Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Conservatives Turf Turner

Bad fucking idea

Instructions for a political fiasco:

1. Get gun
2. Point at feet
3. Pull trigger

The Conservative party followed these instructions perfectly today, squeezing the trigger on the suspension of Garth Turner from the Conservative caucus.

Ever controversial, Turner was noted as being a politician that does not fit in with the stereotype of a Conservative. A small-c conservative with socially progressive views. Sure, he favors smaller government and lower taxes. He’s also a small-l liberal where it counts, favoring more rights for all Canadians.

The Conservative party claimed that Turner was violating the secrecy of caucus. There may be some truth for this. For example, in a recent weblog post, Turner speculated on the contents of the next federal budget, writing, “So, I'd wager the coming budget will look pretty much like this: another point off the GST, a drop in the income tax rate for the lowest bracket, the promised rollover in capital gains taxes for reinvested profits (look for a complicated new investment account to be created - Bay Street will love it), provisions for social benefits not be clawed back for lower-income workers, a lower growth forecast for the economy, an agricultural action plan, bringing in new income-support for farmers, [and] more middle-class tax credits aimed at family expenses.”

Now, if one considers that a budget discussion should take place under conditions of secrecy (I, personally, do not), this certainly does violate that secrecy.

The Conservative party has insisted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper had nothing to do with Turner’s suspension, and even sustained from the national caucus vote that decided the issue.

Interestingly, many media outlets took this story as an opportunity to play a game of “get Harper”, asking questions insinuating that Harper was behind the decision. Neither Turner, nor any of his former colleagues confirmed any allegations.
Turner, for his part, has resolved to follow the wishes of his constituents. He has promised to hold town hall meetings in the next week before he decides what he will do. He has promised he will sit at a “caucus of one”, and will not join any of the other parties.

The Conservative party, however, has some very serious questions to answer. For a party that is garnering a reputation for secrecy, to suspend Turner in such a manner is simply a bone-headed move. Suddenly, the one answer to all the criticisms ideologues levy against the Conservative party has been banished to sit as an Independent.

Bigotry? Garth Turner.

Same sex marriage? Garth Turner.

Right-wing extremism? Garth Turner.

Garth Turner may have been the most prominent leftover from the Progressive Conservative party left in the Conservative party. No more. Mere hours after the suspension of Turner from the Conservative caucus, a new seating plan was released, with Turner sat on the other side of the house – far away from his former colleagues.
On Mike Duffy live, a fellow Conservative MP even suggested that Canadians may see Turner sit as a Liberal or NDP member in the next session of parliament – but not as a Conservative.

The Conservative Party has just distanced itself from the most valuable member of their caucus: their voice of conscientious dissent. This is something that is of incredible value to any party: it demonstrates variety within the opinions of that party.

With recent polls suggesting that the Conservatives and Liberals are tied in national polling, this is a move that could not have possibly came at a worse time. Turner is an MP the Conservative Party should have clutched near and dear to its heart.

If there is any sense left in the minds of the Conservative party, it is hopefully not too late to turn back the clock, and take Turner back.

Otherwise, Canadians may not like the answers the Conservatives have for the questions they will need to answer.

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