Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Was Garth Turner's blog too much for Stephen Harper?

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude
Tuesday October 24, 2006

A Blog Too Far for Harper?

By BILL TIELEMAN

There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail.

- Will Rogers

Call it A Blog Too Far for expelled Conservative Member of Parliament Garth Turner. Or call it GarthBlogistan, after the outspoken politician was exiled from the Tory caucus for allegedly leaking secrets on his website or for being too critical of his colleagues.

But whatever you call Turner's sudden departure, you can be guaranteed the man who made the call was Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And what an amazingly dumb call it was.

Once upon a time most Conservatives belonged to the Reform Party and they believed MPs should be independently minded and listen to the views of their constituents, not take orders from the party.

Now all they do is play follow the leader.

Garth Turner's crime was to speak out, speak up and not kowtow to the party establishment. What's shocking for a Conservative MP is that Turner not only actually thinks for himself, he also says what he thinks.

And Turner defends himself ably, stating that he didn't break caucus confidentiality. He convincingly argues the real reason he got the boot was for criticizing the Conservatives' "green" plan and utterly worthless Clean Air Act.

"The legislative centerpiece of the Conservative autumn is a disappointment on the scale of a Rolling Stones concert. I mean, what were the policy wonks at Environment thinking?" Turner now says.

Before expulsion he even video interviewed Green Party federal leader Elizabeth May about climate change on his website, www.garth.ca.

It's deep green stuff like that that makes a party leader/control freak like Stephen Harper see red. And when Doug Finley, the Conservative's national party director, showed up for the first time ever at the Ontario MP caucus meeting where the decision was made to turf Turner, it was obvious that Harper had ordered the hit and sent in an enforcer.

So the minority government party that bent over backwards to convince then-Liberal MP David Emerson to cross the floor for one more vote throws away another one and ditches a guy who has always been a Conservative. Hell, Turner was even a Brian Mulroney cabinet minister at one point.

With brilliant strategy like this it's no wonder that the Tories are now tied with the leaderless Liberals, according to a Strategic Counsel poll - each with 32 per cent nationally - while the Conservatives have dive bombed from 30 per cent to just 16 per cent in Quebec.

I'd call that being seriously blogged down in the polls.

2 comments:

Evil Eye said...

The fact that Harper could so easily and conveniently forget the roots of the current Conservative party is bad enough.

But the fact that the rank and file, the party faithful, could so easily turn a blind eye to this affront to basic "ideology" is even worse.

Where are all the "Reformers" who wailed and moaned and gnashed their teeth over the merger? Where are all those "principled" Canadians? Isn't the Garth Turner episode PRECISELY what they claimed to be concerned about when the merger was being debated?

Wait, I know ... they're hiding inside the party, waiting for their opportunity to perform the miracle of "change from within".

If Mr. Harper allows "change from within", of course. If he doesn't, well, never mind.

Aaron Unruh said...

"With brilliant strategy like this it's no wonder that the Tories are now tied with the leaderless Liberals, according to a Strategic Counsel poll - each with 32 per cent nationally - while the Conservatives have dive bombed from 30 per cent to just 16 per cent in Quebec."

Given the current batch of front-runners for the Liberal leadership, I'd say that it's an advantage for the party to be leaderless.