Saturday, July 05, 2008

Smooth One, Garth

One of Canada's biggest political big mouths spouts a real gem

One almost has to appreciate Halton Conservative-turned-Liberal MP Garth Turner. He really is the gift that keeps on giving.

More specifically: to Albertans, reasons to not vote Liberal ever again and to his leader Stephane Dion, headaches.

Yesterday, in a post in which he questioned whether or not Stephen Harper would debate Stephane Dion regarding Dion's carbon tax:

"the Conservatives say the Liberal plan would cost consumers, hobble the economy and be unfair to the West. The Libs say the Con plan is a sham since it will have almost no environmental impact, end up making all energy more expensive, do nothing to help consumers cope or assist businesses to go green.

Meanwhile Canadians are freaked out about gas prices, worried about economic slowdown and think governments are doing nothing about the future of the planet. In other words, what would be better to crystallize positions and help us all understand the problem and the solutions, than a debate?

But, sadly, ain’t gonna happen. The prime minister will not play. This is either because (a) he knows he will lose because his plan sucks, or (b) he does not want to give the leader of the opposition equal footing with Himself, or (c) too many pancakes will die, or (d) he feels sorry for the skinny guy, or (f) it’s just a lot easier to say “this will screw everybody.”
Turner let loose this particular pearl of wisdom:

"As for Dion, he will move from Calgary to Edmonton, where he’s to have an open, Town Hall meeting on his climate change plan. You might not agree with everything the man says, but you have to admire this about him. He stood up once to the self-aggrandizing, hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish and balkanizing separatist losers in Quebec. I guess he can do it again in Alberta."
It's hard to decide where to start with Turner.

One could point out that if one were to accept his argument that Alberta and Quebec are the "me-first" provinces, it's hard to overlook Ontario's perennial reputation as the "me-only" province.

And while Turner isn't the first Liberal to write off Alberta (or Western Canada in general) as "hostile" to the rest of Canada -- Hard Right Turn author and failed Liberal candidate Brooke Jeffrey went so far as to breathlessly insist that Western Canadians supported the Reform party as an attempt to dominate the central Canadians they "despise" -- one has to wonder how precisely Turner is defining this hostility.

If he were to suggest that Albertans -- like Quebecers -- are hostile to politicians who want to treat their province as a cash cow while breaking their promises at will, he'd probably be right about that.

And if Albertans really can be considered as "selfish" as Turner insists, there's always one other little nuance that he's naturally overlooked: at least Albertans are being selfish with their own money, as opposed to someone else's.

Then on top of all that, there's the real meat and potatoes of Turner's argument, which turns out to be rather thin gruel indeed.

Certainly, Turner could insist that the Conservatives' plan "sucks", but he'd have to ignore the fact that the Conservative plan, with its mandated 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, is actually much closer in line with what environmental groups are demanding than Dion's plan, which comes with no mandated reduction.

Certainly, Turner could insist that Harper is stooping to the lowest common denominator by pointing out that "the plan will screw everybody", but then he'd have to overlook the fact that the Liberal party has a history of making grand promises, then screwing everybody who believes them.

Certainly, Turner could insist that Dion is merely standing up for Canadians against separatism in Quebec and the West, but then he'd have to overlook that Alberta is as Canadian as anywhere else in the country, and has yet to give rise to a credible separatist movement.

Then again, we know that Turner is quite adept at selectively overlooking things when he feels so inspired.

He only further demonstrated this with what passes for a mea culpa on his blog, wherein he continued to insist he was only commenting about separatists.

(Once again, find a politically credible separatist in Alberta, Mr Turner, and we'll talk.)

And, as ever seems to be the case with Garth Turner, one has to wonder how much this really has to do with separatism, how much this really has to do with climate change and how much this really has to do even with partisanship as it has to do with his unending vendetta against "hats and horses Conservatives" and the people who elected them.

For someone who posts a picture of the Canadian flag atop a post about how he puts the country first and his political opponents don't, Turner has an odd habit of putting his own grudges first and making himself utterly transparent while doing it.

No one can credibly pretend that Turner doesn't remember the 1993 election in which he and his fellow Mulroney-era Progressive Conservatives were unceremoniously routed from office under the rising tide of Reform party support.

When Turner is ready to actually start putting the country ahead of his lingering grudges, Canadians -- or, at the very least, Stephane Dion -- will be all the better off for it.

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