Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Turner Turns

I've made it clear in the past that I certainly don't have much time for Garth "It's tough to live off a six figure salary" Turner. I think Harper made the right choice to dump him from caucus, and I don't think the Liberals are any better off with him.

However, Garth's extended walk across the isle does raise the question about floor crossing in our parliamentary system. Here's how I feel about it:

Everybody who makes up the government should be elected. They should sit in Parliament as they were elected. If they decide to change parties, they should go and get re-elected. To do otherwise is to place politicians above the people when, actually, it’s the other way around. After stating many a time that Belinda Stronach should have sought a by-election after her defection, how could I not say the same obvious thing now? End of story.

I think the problem is that Parliament is dominated by party machines who, during elections, pound each other to a pulp, telling Canadians they have totally different visions for the country. But once the voting is done, it’s all about power and position.

Feeling cynical? Man, you have cause.


UPDATES:

1. Repo Creepo had this story back in January.


2. Garth polled his constituents back in October on what he should do. The results?

(1) Resign your seat - zero
(2) Negotiate back into caucus - 17
(3) Join the Liberals - zero
(4) Go Green - 17
(5) Stay independent - 31

(h/t Stephen Taylor)


3. Either Elizabeth May has the driest wit of any Canadian politician for she's smoking something:

"I think it's a good choice for Garth. As an independent, he's been making some good contributions to parliamentary discourse and debate and conducting himself in a way that I think is admirable," Ms. May told CBC TV.

"He had his time to think over what his constituents wanted him to do. This must be the message he got from his constituents."

But given Mr. Turner's turbulent year, she hasn't ruled him out of Green contention.

"He remains welcome to join the Green Party of Canada should Mr. Dion throw him out of caucus," Ms. May said.

I guess it's refreshing to see honesty from politicians but I'm not sure if Ms. May should go around saying that:

a) Picking the Liberals over the Greens is the right choice
b) They'll take anyone in their party

55 Comments:

  • Great post CG!

    I laughed out loud at Turner crossing the floor. Everybody is into musical chairs these days!

    I am very glad to see that you are denouncing this move. Glad to see SOME people can stick to their guns!

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 1:30 PM  

  • Agreed, great post.

    I really don't see how he can rectify this hypocrisy in his head, let alone publicly. It's like Dion coming out tomorrow and denouncing Kyoto as a money sucking socialist scheme. I think Garth just wanted another press conference so he can see himself on TV and point to the TV and say "hey, everybody, look who's on tv!".

    By Blogger Olaf, at 1:38 PM  

  • I don't care if people cross the floor. I certainly dont support banning it and have refrained from criticizing Wajid Khan or David Emerson in the interests of consistency (although I would say that given that he crossed the floor two weeks after an election I would put David Emerson on the "sleazy" end of floor crossing spectrum).

    Im not entirely comfortable with having Garth Turner in Caucus (although Im not opposed to it either) and Im sure you can find more specific quotes to prove him a hypocrite but the ones you have provided don't quite serve to indict him:

    Everybody who makes up the government should be elected.

    The Liberals aren't the governing party, and even if they were a case can be made that one isn't in the cabinet they don't "make up" the government.

    They should sit in Parliament as they were elected.

    When Harper kicked him out of Caucus that really wasn't an option for him.

    If they decide to change parties, they should go and get re-elected. To do otherwise is to place politicians above the people when, actually, it’s the other way around.

    Garth isn't "changing parties" from a strict understanding of the words. He is joining another party after being kicked out of another. There is nuance there.

    is dominated by party machines who, during elections, pound each other to a pulp, telling Canadians they have totally different visions for the country. But once the voting is done, it’s all about power and position.

    Ok but the Liberal's dont have power and they havent (and probably wont even if they form government with a reelected Garth Turner) given him a position.

    By Blogger KC, at 1:42 PM  

  • Olaf is right... it seems the only purpose for this was to get Garth's name in the news again. Congrats Garth, you're the man!! Now everyone can reaffirm their belief that you are an absolute idiot.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 1:42 PM  

  • Hmm, I didn't see this coming. However, this isn't really a defection or floor-crossing, is it? Sure, Garth was elected as a Conservative... and then he was kicked out and sat as an Independent - not by his own choice, I might add. So... where's the hypocrisy? This isn't much like Emerson or Stronach - neither of whom were forced to leave by any stretch. If anything, it's similar to Khan, though it can be argued that it was his choice not to accept the terms of his leader.

    In any case, Garth is getting a further 15 minutes of fame, but I don't see any hypocrisy in it whatsoever. Whether his constituents agree will be determined in the next election.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 1:43 PM  

  • Turner is a lose cannon which is a concern. he is also entirely self motivated because he knew he would never get reelcted as an independent. He is however very Liberal in his social views and not even that conservative fiscally. He was one of the reddest of the Harris Torries and there are many sitting Liberal MP's who are far more conservative than he is.

    The real concern is his lack of respect for process and his self interest which he has displayed several times.

    By Blogger s.b., at 2:09 PM  

  • Oh this doesn't surprise me. i would have placed bets on it. The fact that it didn't happen sooner is probbably just because of the leadership racce.

    By Blogger s.b., at 2:10 PM  

  • Dion taking Turner in is another example of his lack of leadership skills since he took over in December.

    What does the party gain from having a proven loose cannon like Turner on it's side?

    Is Dion going to be picking up Turner's income trust hobby horse as well.

    Dion is a diaster!

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 2:20 PM  

  • Floor-crossing doesn't bother me a great deal -- though I would be happier if a person quit their party, claimed intent to run under the new party, and sat Independent til next election.

    However, if we wanted to put in the effort for a by-election - sure, I would be all for that, no problem whatsoever. It is probably the best way, you are right.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 2:46 PM  

  • On Turner specifically -- this makes no sense. I agree, without hesitation, that his game is to be talked about and seek attention. So why not join the Green Party? He'd be a non-stop hit parade of "Canada's ONLY Green Party MP", etc etc blah blah blah.

    (I'm not a member of the Green Party - I'm just saying, it fits with his M.O. better is all)

    To be honest, I almost think the Liberals should have said, "No thanks!"

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 2:49 PM  

  • I too believe that Liberals should have said no thanks and that we could have won Halton easily without him, as he would split the Conservative vote and he won by the thinnest of margins. There are probably reasons why Dion wanted another MP in the house right now and he can give us some needed intel as well. But he certainly brings some liablilites with him.

    By Blogger s.b., at 3:14 PM  

  • I agree - the Liberals should have said, "thanks for coming out, now leave."

    This kinda makes me wonder if Stephane Dion has perhaps been massively overestimated, because from where I sit, I don't see any political gain for the Liberals on this one.

    Still, this is funny:

    From the Globe and Mail Elizabeth May says, "He remains welcome to join the Green Party of Canada should Mr. Dion throw him out of caucus.”

    If Elizabeth May wants a guy who was turfed out of two parties to join the Greens, perhaps the Greens too, have been grossly overestimated.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 3:17 PM  

  • I have to copy a post I've already made elsewhere on this topic.

    With Garth joining the Liberals, I am reminded of something that the late Tommy Douglas said after MP Ross Thatcher (the eventual last ever Liberal Premier of Saskatchewan) completed his political defection (CCF to Independent to Liberals):

    "We had him yesterday. You have him today. Heaven help who has him tomorrow."

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 3:18 PM  

  • The realy question is: why now?

    Politics is about timing and momentum. They could have timed this move for any time. Why now? Why do they feel it is important to build momentum right now?

    (The answer will have the word 'election' in there somewhere).

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 3:27 PM  

  • The realy question is: why now?

    Politics is about timing and momentum. They could have timed this move for any time. Why now? Why do they feel it is important to build momentum right now?

    (The answer will have the word 'election' in there somewhere).
    tion' in there somewhere).

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 3:28 PM  

  • Robert unfortunately because I think the money is now on a May election, being called in April. So nominatons have to start now. Sitting MP's have their nominations first very very soon. So he had to cross now or not be nominated. It was now or never.

    By Blogger s.b., at 4:30 PM  

  • Turner's a loose Cannon and the Libs should have stayed away from him. From a math perspective, the extra MP doesn't do them any good and Turner running as an independent probably would have helped them more in Halton than having Turner run for them.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:46 PM  

  • There is no way in hades that any leader that might form a government would want a renegade and loose cannon like Turner in their party. I think Dion made a huge mistake. Turner did not see eye to eye with CPC policies, and I sure can't see him buying into the majority of the LPC ones.

    The writer who suggested that it is his best chance at re-election is probably right. I think it would have been interesting for Turner to go to the Greens, as although I am a bit right of Attila the Hun, I would not mind a Green voice in Parliament. As May is not going to be sitting any time soon, having a maverick like Turner would not hurt that party. Again, the writer who talked about the vested pension may be exactly right, this is all about Turner, and no one else.

    By Blogger Andy, at 5:16 PM  

  • "He is however very Liberal in his social views and not even that conservative fiscally"

    Really? Do some research on his social and fiscal policies.

    Income splitting and child-care for an example.

    By Blogger paulsstuff, at 5:29 PM  

  • I think floor crossing is a fair part of the game of politics in Canada.

    However, what irks me is how he spent 2-3 months preaching at Harper re: David Emerson, and now he goes to the Lib's without even saying that he's going to run in a by-election. Its hypocrisy at its worst!

    Reading Garth's blog from back then he noted that when ever a MP changes parties they should go back to the electorate. Now that he's with the Liberals does he ask for a by-election? Of course not. Astounding.

    By Blogger M. K. Braaten, at 5:34 PM  

  • Why did Garth do it?

    There was no hope in hell that he was going to be able to raise the funds or garner enough support as an Independent to win this riding. He is not stupid. Therefore he had to latch onto one of the other parties. He didn't think he would be able to get enough support running as a Green; the Conservatives did not want him; so he had to settle for the Liberals.

    On August 7, on this blog I wrote: "Wajid realizes he is not going to be a minister in the next Liberal cabinet. It's time for a Liberal nomination meeting in Mississauga-Streetsville."

    Today, on this blog I write: "Turner will bolt from the Liberals within 6 months unless 1) he becomes minister; or 2) he thinks he can replace Dion.

    The real question is: Why did Dion take him?

    MississaugaPeter

    By Blogger Peter, at 6:26 PM  

  • Good post, fair points, but after the likes of Khan, Emerson, Brison, Stronach, etc. etc., I think the cries of hypocrisy won't have legs.

    As an unpredictable maverick, Garth would be far from alone in the Grit caucus.

    And on the issues, he's no worse or better a fit than Brison or Keith Martin.

    Which leaves the question of whether he brings any useful assets to the Liberal Party. I think he does. I think his media skills and especially his web-savvyness will be put to good use.

    By Blogger d. andy jette, at 6:47 PM  

  • I can hardly wait to read the caucus "secrets" on his blog, should be fun...ciao

    By Blogger Rositta, at 7:33 PM  

  • I unlike Calgarygrit do agree that MPs should have the right to cross the floor. In terms of re-electability, Garth Turner is the big winner as he now has at least a 50% chance if not better of being re-elected whereas it was close to zero as an independent. The Conservatives are sort of winners since they at least now have a chance at reclaiming the riding as the right wing vote won't be split as it would have had Turner run as an independent.

    The Liberals if anything actually lose here since their chances of reclaiming the riding have dropped from a near certainty to almost even, maybe a slightly better than even chance, but certainly not a guarantee.

    Halton is what I call the purple zone in Golden Horseshoe since it isn't solidly conservative like Wellington County to the West, but not solidly Liberal either like Mississauga. The median voter is to the right of the Liberals and to the left of the Conservatives and just depending on the leaders, candidates, and issues, could really go either way. If the Old PCs still existed it would probably be a safe Conservative riding as they are the closest to your average voter here while the merger puts them in a difficult position since most lie somewhere between the two parties.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 7:36 PM  

  • Garth Turner offers a byelection in Halton! Surely Harper will take up the offer Turner just made live at his press conference on CTV newsnet. Garth Turner will run in a byelection provided Harper also calls one for the other floor crossers at the same time: Mississauga Streetsville, Vancouver Kingsway, and one for Fortier who says he is waiting for a Montreal seat to run in. What an exciting set of byelections this will be...provided that Harper shows some courage and calls the byelections which seems like an ethical decision on behalf of Canadian voters. I am glad Turner had the guts to offer to run in the byelection, and surely Harper will take him up on his offer...right????

    By Blogger ktr, at 8:42 PM  

  • ktr,

    Garth is blowing smoke to obscure the fact that he is the one who originally stated that floor crossers should run in byelections, not Harper. His arrogance is truly breathtaking to behold, especially considering that arguing this very point re:Emerson is what got him in Harper's doghouse in the first place.

    He's yours now. Have fun.

    By Blogger pheenster, at 8:56 PM  

  • The Liberals add another MP because of the hard work and dedication of Joe Volpe.

    I hope Dan Arnold and other Volpe bashers remember what he brings to our party.

    By Blogger A Toronto Liberal, at 9:00 PM  

  • A Toronto Liberal - Joe Volpe was the only one available, but he only arranged the meeting with Dion. In reality I think Turner would have defected regardless of what Volpe did.

    In addition if anything I think this is a bad thing as Volpe is a liability to our party. Ever wonder why of the 8 candidates, he has the smallest role. Perhaps Dion realizes he is a slimeball and wants to avoid allowing him to cause us any damage.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 9:15 PM  

  • Re: the May update.

    I was never impressed with the Green Party selecting her as leader. I quite admire her "politics of nice" attitude, and she is, of course, excellent at getting media. They would have been smarter to go with Chernushenko and take May as the public face of the party, as Harper and MacKay at one time functioned. Or, in a way, Chretien and Martin. She has enormous skills, but she's not Leader material - Dan's update shows why.

    Poor thinking on her part.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:26 PM  

  • A Toronto Liberal, you rock.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:27 PM  

  • Yes Garth knew he would never win his seat as an independent and we should have said no thank you. We didn't need him to take back Halton.

    By Blogger s.b., at 9:53 PM  

  • Firstly, I am a Burkean. I believe we elect members of parliament to apply their judgement - even if we disagree. If their judgment is faulty, we throw them out next time.

    Garth Turner can (possibly) serve his constituents better as a Liberal than an independent. He is not really crossing the floor anyway, since he was not a member of a party (the Tories kicked him out, and deservedly so).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:44 PM  

  • Sean "If Elizabeth May wants a guy who was turfed out of two parties to join the Greens, perhaps the Greens too, have been grossly overestimated."

    It has more to do with the reasons the guy is turfed. If it's for something criminal, yeah a party would be stupid to take a criminal. But what Garth apparently did, and will presumably do to the Liberals, is poke the problems from the inside until holes show up and the leaders get tired of their hypocritical bubble being burst. Since the Green Party doesn't yet have that aroma of talk-but-no-action, there'd be a chance Garth would be happiest there, poking holes in other parties, instead of the ones apparent to him while he sits listening to tripe from his leader.

    By Blogger Saskboy, at 11:17 PM  

  • what about the Halton Lib Can who is getting the bum's rush?

    Dion to http://www.josezlatar.ca/:

    "No way, Jose.
    See you later, Zlatar!"

    Nice way to build an election team, Mr. Green, turf your front line infantry so that you can superannuat an opportunistic outsider.

    Nice. Should work out great for Dion's 07 Green Team.

    By Blogger At Dot Com, at 11:53 PM  

  • Garth's opportunism is very transparent.

    The question is why did Dion choose to burden all of his fellow Liberals with this character.

    And what does it say about Dion as a "leader"?

    By Blogger Paul, at 12:46 AM  

  • Is Garth even guaranteed the Liberal nomination in Halton? For all we know, he could just be a vote till it's time to turf him, a-la John Bryden or Annamarie Castrilli.

    By Blogger Andrew, at 1:33 AM  

  • pheenster,
    you cant say he is blowing smoke until Harper agrees to the byelections and Garth recinds his offer. Until that happens Garth has more credibility on the issue than any con. I can't wait to hear preston and guergis trashing turner.

    Miles Lunn, get a life with your trash talking. in case you missed it, the leadership campaign ended 2 months ago.

    By Blogger ktr, at 3:13 AM  

  • so now that turner is no longer a con, will Harper and crew finally tell us exactly what Turner did to get kicked out? I mean, just tell me a specific. If he leaked some caucus confidentiality to the public, please tell me what it was. Since it is already leaked to the public, you have nothing to lose, right?
    i mean, the ontario con caucus voted him out based on a specific incident, so i think they still owe the halton residents an explanation.

    By Blogger ktr, at 3:16 AM  

  • Local Fiberals were Pretty Ticked Off with Garth’s antics when he ran against former MPP Julian Reed

    < after Garth ran against PM Kim Campbell inside the Tory Party >

    who Beat Garth as the Least of the Worst in a partnership of sorts called GROG Get Rid of Garth when Garth was the GST Garth’s Special Tax Minister.

    The NDP & the Reform Party were a part of it then along with the Fiberals.

    At Least the Halton Green Party & NDP have a Candidate after a Nomination meeting of two Candidates & a proper local democratic election.

    See http://www.robertwagner.ca/

    Wonder what the other hopeful Liberal contender for Halton riding is saying now ?

    By Blogger Robert, at 3:21 AM  

  • Saskboy:

    I get that.

    I was speaking of the comedic value in Elizabeth May's statement. If you're trying to get your party to become a feasible mainstream option for voters, it might not be the best idea in the world to openly invite someone to your party if he is punted out of another party... bad optics.

    By Blogger Sean Cummings, at 5:11 AM  

  • Jason:

    Are you suggesting May is out to sabotage the Green party?

    She has been making some very pleasant noises toward Dion and the liberal party, especially during the by-election in LNC. Her background as an ex-Progressive Conservative may also support a tinfoil hat observation that she has an axe to grind over the merger.

    That aside, I agree that Garth might not be the coup he's being billed as.
    I hope Dion knows what he's doing.

    By Blogger gimbol, at 6:54 AM  

  • Paul Garth supports the Charter, which several Liberals MP's don't. His fiscalpolicy in a nut shell is tax breaks for the middle class, not that un Liberal. He isn't abot tax breaks for the rich or for corporations and he is not anti choice anti gay marriage etc. There are many sitting Liberal MP's who are far more conservative than he is.

    That being said, I still think he is a liablity in our current minority situation and still fragile party after leadership. He is divisive to say the least and we should have said no thanks.

    By Blogger s.b., at 9:47 AM  

  • Andrew, all sitting MP's are guarenteed thier nomination which will be soon which is why this happened now and yes, he is guarenteed the nomination.

    Gerrard however, has not been guarenteed his nomination, nor will Mr. Rae be guarenteed his. Trudeau will also have to win a nomination battle, and may the best woman win I say.

    By Blogger s.b., at 9:50 AM  

  • SB, who can guarantee a sitting MP the nomination? I'm not saying it won't happen, that just sounds pretty undemocratic to me, at least anti-grassroots.

    "Sean Cummings said...

    Saskboy:

    I get that.

    I was speaking of the comedic value in Elizabeth May's statement. If you're trying to get your party to become a feasible mainstream option for voters, it might not be the best idea in the world to openly invite someone to your party if he is punted out of another party... bad optics. "

    I agree it can have bad optics, but when you're a marginalized party not in the House, it seems more important to get at least a butt in a seat so the media perks up. It's not worth worrying about optics damage control, when you're stuck out of sight to main stream Canadian voters. And I think the optics look worse for the Liberals to take Garth, than it would for the Greens.

    By Blogger Saskboy, at 10:10 AM  

  • It is going to be rather interesting watching how Garth votes as a member of the LPC.Will he tow the party line and throw all those long held progressive conservative party beliefs in the toilet?

    By Blogger greyburr, at 10:54 AM  

  • I'm sure that s.b. has it right re the timing of Turner's move and the impending nomination of Lib candidates.

    I also like the idea of protecting sitting MPs. It takes up too much of their time if they have to be organbizing for nomination fights and it creates unnecessary tensions in caucus if one MP thinks that a friend of another is involved in trying to unseat him or her.

    Garth's offer to run in a bye-election if Harper also calls them in Vancouver and Streetsville should help defuse that issue.

    By Blogger Abrawang, at 11:04 AM  

  • No, Gimbol - I did not suggest May is out to "sabotage" the Green Party.

    I think she is not leader material is all. More Sisko than Picard.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 11:52 AM  

  • you cant say he is blowing smoke until Harper agrees to the byelections and Garth recinds his offer. Until that happens Garth has more credibility on the issue than any con.

    ktr - that is really funny. I am just rolling on the floor laughing. Oh wait, you're actually serious, aren't you? Sigh! As has been said more than once, Harper specifically said in a pre-election interview that he was not against floor crossing because to ban it would give party leaders too much control. As far as Turner is concerned he at the time of the Emerson defection did not in any way qualify his opposition to floor crossing.

    ... will Harper and crew finally tell us exactly what Turner did to get kicked out?

    Why don't you ask your friend, Garth Turner. After all, he's still playing the victim. He should be glad to go into detail about he was unfairly done in by those nasty old Tories and about how what he did was not so bad.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 12:23 PM  

  • I don't have a problem protecting sitting MPs in a minority parliament. With the uncertainty, they just don't have the time to organize for a nomination challenge.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:32 PM  

  • "I think she is not leader material is all. More Sisko than Picard."

    Awesome. I'm picturing her as an imposing bald black dude, and an imposing bald white dude now.

    Make Kyoto So.

    By Blogger Saskboy, at 4:38 PM  

  • brian in calgary said "As has been said more than once, Harper specifically said in a pre-election interview that he was not against floor crossing because to ban it would give party leaders too much control."

    sure he did, and i am not saying i disagree with him. i actually agree with him. i am disagreeing with guergis and preston, and all the cons who called belinda a dipstick and whore. check out bill c-251.

    garth did not choose to leave the cons, he was kicked out. sorry to confuse you with the facts. garth has been asked why, and he says he doesnt know. whether he doesnt know, or you still believe he does know, the party still owes the public a quick line on why it booted him. Now is the perfect time to take a shot at him, so what is Harper waiting for. tell me Turner was hitting on Harper's wife for all i care, just a damn explanation is what we deserve.

    surely, garth is a pretty even trade for Khan.

    By Blogger ktr, at 7:00 PM  

  • i am disagreeing with guergis and preston, and all the cons who called belinda a dipstick and whore. check out bill c-251.

    I agree that name-calling is childish.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 9:20 PM  

  • ktr, Turner was kicked out of _caucus_ by the Ontario caucus. He wasn't kicked out of the party, he was also told that he couldn't run for the CPC again.

    Garth left the CPC of his own accord.

    Cheers,
    lance

    By Blogger lance, at 7:10 PM  

  • That photo where Garth was standing between Dion and some other liberal MP and they are holding his arms up like he won a prize fight or something had to be the saddest and most desperate display I've seen this year. Garth Turner is no prize. You can have him....And I've glad he left the party I voted for..

    By Blogger Troy, at 8:51 PM  

  • That photograph where Dion and some other MP are holding up Garths arms like he won a prize fight in the 12th round by unanimous decision had to be the saddest, most desperate spectacle I've seen this year. Garth is NO prize....I'm glad he left the Conservative Party because now I can watch him get knocked out in the next election..

    By Blogger Troy, at 9:06 PM  

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