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Martin's statement about Stronach

Globe and Mail Update

"Last night, after returning from Atlantic Canada, I met with Belinda Stronach at 24 Sussex Drive to talk with her about the current political situation, about all that is at stake with Thursday's vote on the budget -- and, most of all, about what is required to build a stronger, better future for all Canadians.

We found that on critical questions of both policy and politics, we have much in common.

We both believe in centrist, balanced and moderate policies. We both believe in a strong economic and fiscal program. We both believe in the need to equip our people with the skills to compete anywhere, with anyone. And we both believe in the Gomery Commission.

Based on these shared beliefs, she and I have agreed that she fits more comfortably, can serve more appropriately and can contribute more substantially as a member of the government caucus.

Accordingly, I am very pleased to announce that Belinda Stronach will cross the floor and has agreed to join the cabinet as Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

In addition, Ms. Stronach will assume responsibilities for democratic renewal and will help guide the implementation of the recommendations that flow from the Gomery Commission's final report.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Lucienne Robillard, who has so capably directed the ministry of Human Resources and Skills Development during this time in addition to her existing cabinet responsibilities and her role as National Campaign Co-Chair.

Finally, I want to thank Martha Hall-Findlay, who has agreed to stand down as the Liberal candidate in Newmarket-Aurora.

Before turning things over to Ms Stronach, let me say one thing further.

I am proud to have Belinda Stronach as a member of the government and as a member of my cabinet. She is capable. She has achieved great success already in the fields of business and politics.

But I am particularly proud to have her join us at this important time.

The significance of her decision is not that it necessarily alters the outcome of Thursday's vote — indeed we still do not know whether the budget will pass.

The significance is that on Thursday, Members of Parliament will stand and be counted in the most-watched vote of the past 25 years. And Belinda Stronach has chosen to stand for what she believes is best for Canada.

She believes it would be wrong for the country if the Conservative Party combines with the Bloc to kill this budget and force an early election. And she's doing something about it.

That's gutsy.

And that's why I'm proud to have Belinda Stronach as part of my team."

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