Friday, September 04, 2009

So Garth, Could You Take This Up With Your Party?

Turner opposes Harper on Senate appointments, supports Harper on elected Senate

In perhaps the most unshocking turn of events since Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed nine new Senators, former Conservative and Liberal MP Garth Turner announced that he was disappointed in Harper.

More encouraging, however, was the reason why.

"I'm also disappointed in Mr Harper," said Turner, but noted the importance of Senate reform. "I support him on that."

"I think we either need an elected Senate or an abolished Senate," he added.

"Overall, it's a very costly institution that has nothing but a ceremonial role," he continued. "Nobody should be sent to Ottawa who hasn't been sent by the people."

Since he was booted from the Conservative party caucus, very few people should be surprised that Turner is "disappointed" in Stephen Harper. But for Turner to be disappointed in Harper in regard to Senate reform is a welcome change from some of the more blatantly partisan complaints Turner has raised since becoming a Liberal.

Turner's disapproval of Harper's appointmentss unsurprisingly and rightly focused in on Doug Finley.

"He's a political player," Turner said of Finley, whom he also described as "bare-knuckles political operative."

But Turner also noted that the Conservatives most certainly aren't the first party to make such a blatantly partisan appointment to the Senate.

"I know this is not just a Conservative thing," he noted. "Liberals have done it in the past too."

Naturally, however, there is one other forum in which one hopes Turner could take up the cause of Senate reform: namely, with his colleagues in the Liberal Senate caucus.

After all, the House of Commons passed the term limits bill. It's the Liberal Senate Caucus who are holding up the bill, often under the guise of the same specious excuses offered by Stephane Dion.

One more MP who supports Senate reform would be a welcome addition to the Liberal caucus in the minds of many Canadians. It may not even be a stretch of the imagination to suggest that he may be a better alternative to Dufferin-Calderon Conservative MP David Tilson, who offered an unfitting defense of Harper's appointments (even the blatantly partisan ones).

"They're all distinguished canadians," he insisted. "They're all worthy of the job."

As Garth Turner would almost surely remind Tilson, they may not necessarily be any less worthy as many of the appointees who came before them. But that doesn't mean that there weren't many, many better candidates for those jobs.

As Turner would also remind Tilson -- as well as the Premiers of the provinces not currently electing Senators -- the Canadian citizenry may be much better poised to identify those individuals.

Perhaps he could even convince his own party's Senators.

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