Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Garth Turner

Garth Turner has publicy disossociated himself from the Conservative Party and will likely have to contest the next federal election as an independant.

I really like Garth Turner. I really do. I first encountered him as an assistant to a Cabinet Minister in the Mulroney government back in the early 90s. I found him dynamic, full of ideas and different from others in public life. I harboured a secret desire to support him for the leadership during his 1993 run, but went with the flow and "drank the (Kim) Campbell Kool-Aid". I always hoped he would be back.

Well back he came, along with other former Tory M.P.s I admire, such as Rob Nicholson in Niagara Falls. It was rejuvenating to see this class come back; almost as rejuvenating as the Conservative victory itself, at the very least because it turfed the evil Liberals from office. However, much has changed since last January. Did it start when Garth Turner was passed over for a Cabinet post? As a free thinker, you would expect that Turner might become a thorn in the side of the government; being outside on the tent pissing in, rather than in the tent pissing out. And everything must be examined through the prism of the control the Prime Minister's inner circle seems to be trying to exert over "the message" being delivered to Canadians.

I don't think Garth Turner would ever have survived one week in Stephen Harper's Cabinet. I don't want to suggest that Ministers and Tory caucus members have become gagged eunechs, but how else do you explain the reasons for and the manner in which Turner was unceremoniously dumped from caucus? I can't imagine it was really unanimous, nor could I imagine, in the current climate, any other caucus members speaking up on his behalf.

Was the reason for his departure the issues he was raising outside the control of the so-called "inner circle", or was it because he has been blogging it? A la Marshall McLuhan, is it the message or the medium? Turner frequently asserts that "digital democracy" is the wave of the future. I wonder, however, if he's ahead of his time, as how many people actually read his blog (or mine, for that matter). Here in Hamilton, a minor buzz was stirred when mayoral candidate (and eventual winner) Fred Eisenberger ran an attack ad on "". Routinely criticized for running lacklustre campaigns, people are now wondering whether this act was a stroke of genius. How many people are surfing YouTube as routinely as they are their television sets? And are these people looking for campaign ads when they do? Late on election night, after Eisenberger had been declared the victor, I had a look at the ad, which kind of screamed U.S. Republican Party. Slightly over 2,000 people had viewed the video to that point. Eisenberger's margin of victory was 452 votes. Is Garth Turner on to something?

Many were disappointed either that Garth didn't join the Green Party, nor expose secrets on the Prime Minister /his government. With the type of control that PMO has, what kind of information did they expect Garth Turner to actually be in possesion of? For my part, I may be most disappointed that Garth Turner's return to the House of Commons may be short-lived. I don't think he's going back to the Conservatives and I hope he has enough scruples to stay the hell away from the Liberals. In fact, if you are to believe what he is saying on his blog these days, he's finished with party politics altogether.

Oh well. Maybe he can pull a Joe Lieberman (what I used to call a Chuck Cadman) and win it all in Halton as an independant. As a Conservative, I don't know if that would make me happy or upset! It would be worth it, though, to still have Garth Turner around, rambling MPTV rants and all!

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