Saturday, October 21, 2006

Daily Digest October 21, 2006

Joe Hueglin wrote:


CHARLOTTETOWN GUARDIAN - Giving schools the resources they need
If we want to encourage immigration, we must put resources toward this.

HALIFAX HERALD - Not green enough

HALIFAX HERALD - Acting like kids

OTTAWA CITIZEN - Fighting and helping

TORONTO STAR - Victory possible in war on poverty

TORONTO STAR - Canada's Afghan aid

TORONTO STAR - Prompt action needed on border ID

NATIONAL POST - The Mounties and the media

NATIONAL POST - Belinda & Puppygate

TORONTO SUN - Gripes don't pass smell test


HAMILTON SPECTATOR - Medical records need regulating

K-W RECORD - Press ruling is welcome

WINDSOR STAR - Justice served: Ruling backs freedom of press

WINNIPEG SUN - 'Right thing to do' finally gets done

CALGARY HERALD - A victory for press freedom

CALGARY SUN - Turner crossed line

EDMONTON SUN - Let 'em play tag!


VANCOUVER SUN - Conservatives' credibility on the environment goes up in smoke

VANCOUVER SUN - Tories are playing with fire by dumping maverick MP


Military to hold back details on clashes that injure soldiers
Tally of wounded troops stands at 210, Forces say

Welcome to Taliban-istan
Canadian troops in Afghanistan will never defeat the Taliban, experts say, as long as the enemy can roam free in Pakistan

Taliban regime in Kabul would ease one of Pakistan's greatest fears

NATO probing Afghan man's war-crimes claim

Canada builds video army
Combat simulator to train soldiers without risking lives

Canadian military eyes plan to turn sailors into soldiers

Navy ship's high-tech charting mission hits snags

Tories reconsider secrecy on Afghan mission

Shared values, shared kinship

Iggy's rant on Bush 'campaign rhetoric'

Ottawa area pot pouring across border

Bank of Canada chief backs defined-benefit pensions

Labour: Learning the tricks of the trades
Young workers are bringing enthusiasm and strength onto job sites, but not needed experience

Gov't inaction worries Big Oil
The lack of a coherent greenhouse gas emissions policy has created uncertainty in Alberta's booming oilsands as companies are afraid of being caught unprepared

Don't expect rate cut, says central bank

Too much, too fast: Can Alberta learn from Norway?

Linguistic divide continues for domestic film: Telefilm

The mistake was to stay

The President isn't an aberration

Day calls for review after sex offender obtains pardon

Is Ottawa Citizen case really a victory for press?

Provinces want money to back clean-air efforts

National program of bailing out have-not provinces must be fixed, says chair of study panel

Tory leadership candidate touts public-private health-care mix

Free energy entrepreneurs!

Protecting Nova Scotians with the wind

Ottawa to get tab for standoff
Bill for Caledonia dispute hits $16M
Premier tells feds to `get serious'

Bouchard speaks, and outrage follow

PM's fishery stand confuses Campbell
Notes on ending 'separate commercial fisheries in Pacific region' advised Harper to expect calls for clarification

Duceppe says Bloc will force election if fiscal imbalance not dealt with

Women voters turning away from Tories: poll

Security spat led to francophonie 'crisis'

Candidate camps begin wooing delegates ... Ignatieff draws suspicion

Dion lauded for toughness, principles ... 'He has gained the respect' of angry Quebecers

Ignatieff targeted over early terror writings

Harper trying to market alternative universe
How else to explain the Clean Air Act?

Green leader to join the race
Elizabeth May, who lives in Ottawa, will run in London-North-Centre if a byelection is called.

Senators accuse PM of sabotaging Afghan probe

Federal Liberals' Quebec wing passes motion calling Quebec a nation

Chrétien friend bragged about 'a little scheme'

Put an end to citizenship review, NDP says

Alberta appeal court to hear bid to oust MP

Free thinker or real stinker?

CTV VIDEOS's%20comment&clip_id=ctvnews.20061020.00167000-00167339-clip2&subhub=video&no_ads=&sortdate=20061020&slug=stronach_mackay_061020&archive=CTVNews#ctvnews.20061020.00167000-00167339-clip2

CTV News: Craig Oliver covers MacKay's comment
Mike Duffy Live: Female MPs discuss the comment 9:59
Mike Duffy Live: Panel discusses parliamentary politeness 7:22
CTV Atlanitc: Nicolle Carlin on the political dogfight 2:07
Liberal website clip of MacKay's comment 0:30
CTV Toronto: Stronach demands MacKay apologize 1:04
CTV Newsnet: Belinda Stronach demands apology 3:18
CTV Newsnet: Shelia Copps comments on the climate in the House 2:09
Craig Oliver on MacKay's comment 1:56

MacKay dogged by scandal

Behaviour could cost MacKay his job
Bizarre comment and subsequent denial raise questions about fitness for cabinet

Adolescent MacKay could learn from Trudeau

MacKay denies calling Stronach a dog'

Layton demands MacKay apologize or resign

Politicians in doghouse: just say sorry

Remark exposes Tories' true colours: Stronach

The 2006 U.S. mid-terms. What's at stake
CBC News Online Oct. 20, 2006

Republicans have broken faith David Frum

The Generals are worried

Eyeing the exits

Little apparent change after Bush reviews Iraq strategy with generals

MPs hand out compensation for Chinese head tax

RCMP to help train border guards to use firearms ... First guns in August

Tory claim that transit tax credit took out 56,000 cars puzzling to experts

The green police state

"A threat to our security" - Trucks skipping customs checks

Extremes get worse in wild-weather future

Unleash Canada's capitalist creativity on global warming

Foot-dragging is a tradition

Mulroney is looking pretty good

Dog House antics all too Commons

Women do well in math if they think they can

Colonialism wasn't all bad

The double-edged sword of technology

The Birth of Gun Control

Guns: a Question of Control

Registry might do more than meets the eye

Save water by stopping the waste

Michaelle Jean: A long journey into night
Alzheimer's condemns a once-vibrant woman to a twilight existence

As Diwali celebrations begin, Jains choose a quieter ritual
The small religious community is devoted to non-violence in all things

What a concept: adultery as a sin again

The super-powered gospel
Evangelical sabre-rattling doesn't advance global understanding

Harper fails to grasp challenges of real women

The Man of the Cloth and the Tory MP

# L'aile québécoise du PLC prête à reconnaître le Québec comme nation

# Le Bloc québécois promet d'être prêt pour des élections d'ici aux Fêtes

# Le ton monte, Dion et Rae somment Ignatieff d'expliquer des écrits du passé

# MacKay doit s'excuser ou démissionner, selon Jack Layton

# Bob Rae s'explique sur son départ du Nouveau Parti démocratique

Un civil afghan aurait été exécuté lors d'une attaque menée par l'OTAN

Les aspirants chefs croisent le fer

Layton à la défense de Belinda Stronach

Charest accuse ses prédécesseurs

Jacques Corriveau fier d'«une petite combine»

Le Bloc prêt à faire tomber le gouvernement

Stronach piquée au vif



Dunno how many of the 110 plus links you read above - but I'm too beat to make comments relating to the quotes
below that just seemed to grow as I went along.

Gonna take a bit of time out and pleasure myself by visiting Free Dominion.


"These trucks can be hauling anything from people to explosives."

"The military is looking at a number of ways to generate the required troops to meet the commitments in Afghanistan,
with the goal of minimizing the number of personnel that must re-deploy,"

It's bad enough that society pushes kids to grow up too fast. Schools shouldn't be encouraging that by not allowing
kids to be kids in the first place.

Just last week, we finally resolved our most contentious trade issue, softwood lumber, thanks in great part to efforts
by President Bush and Prime Minister Harper. And we will apply the same effort to implementing the changes in
travel regulations required by our Congress under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

The mistake wasn't going into Iraq; the mistake was to stay. The mistake wasn't resorting to bayonets; the mistake
was trying to sit on them. The mistake wasn't to remove a tyrant who wasn't ready to go; the mistake was to try to
build a nation that wasn't ready to be. The mistake wasn't leading a horse to water, the mistake was trying to make
it drink. With the best of intentions, America managed to make Iraq's problem its own. Now the U.S. President is
standing on the riverbank, hanging on to a spooked, rearing, kicking horse. It's not a pretty sight.

"Open up! I'm Corporal Rona Brockovich, with the Royal Canadian Indoor Air Quality Police.

"We need many, many more troops there, a vastly increased presence, to show Pakistan we're in for the long haul."

You don't own your personal medical history, although it is likely the most intimate record of your life that exists.
They are owned by your doctor, who will put them in storage if he or she closes his or her practice.


Mary Dolan

I am shocked and disgusted by the comment of Peter MacKay towards Belinda Stronach. It is an insult to all men and woman who value respect, as an integral part of life. regards

Mary Dolan

Brian D. Marlatt

Subject: For DD


Mike Watkins is right to prefer the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy with its effective instruments of responsible government and second chamber legislative revision, which Mr. Harper sees as the opposition along with the courts, over presidential administrations and the congressional elected legislatures of the United States, lacking in effective executive accountability and frequently characterized by gridlock between houses dominated by partisans of party and state, which Mr. Harper prefers.

Mr. Harper prefers the sweeping power of a presidency and states rights politics to the sometimes withering criticism of the prime minister in parliament and national perspective in national politics.

Mr. Harper's preferences for fixed date elections, proportional representation, senators elected to be partisans of party and province are well-known. They were opposed by Progressive Conservatives as either unconstitutional, inclined to weaken and destabilize parliament, or because they are mere mimicry of American practices, an embarrassing pantomime without legitmacy and a bastarization of parliamentary practices in any case. They make a mockery of the claim that "uniting the Right" could create a united party of Conservatives.

Brian Marlatt
South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale

Stratos Psarianos

Hi, Joe.

Hhhhmmmm ... interesting, how the DD reader response tends to support Mr. Turner. Though I consider this to be wrong (not under the "emotional" sense of morality but rather on the "higher-feeling" sense of it; plus, on practical sense), I find it interesting. The things that I draw from all this are:

- there's an undercurrent of resentment among many CPCers, ex-Reformers, ex-PCers, etc. as concerns either Mr. Harper's seeming aims, his methods, his not explaining why he does what he does, his sphinx-like emotional detachment, etc.; the resentment will always be around in a mass movement (I've heard that internal union politics are detestable in the extreme, with infighting, backstabbing, emotion-laden confrontation, etc. being very present);
- this kind of thing, to a degree reflects Canadians' attitude towards their elected officials.

First thing first: several arguments can be made in support of Mr. Turner's having to walk the plank. MPs' loyalties are complex and can be seen as either hierarchical or as co-equal. Those loyalties are to:

- some encompassing ideal whose establishment will bring peace, justice, etc. for a better world either for all or for a given group; example are: communism, fascism, flying-saucer cults, religions, etc.; NOTE: this is NOT meant as a subversion of religion by association with detestable things; it's meant as a comparison of things where faith and philia, that is "brotherly/sisterly love", are the basis for working towards a better tomorrow; communism, fascism, many cults, etc., had that as a basis even though (ahem) their results turn out otherwise;
- "humanity" worldwide;
- his country and to a lesser degree its allies and "brother" countries; this is meant in the sense of his country vs. others or against people outside it;
- his province, region, whatever within his country;
- the people in his riding;
- "little guys" against the rich and powerful - this is a form of idealism but that I'll treat separately here;
- his political party (assuming he's not an independent);
- personal/party power-acquisition (in the practical sense, not in a save-the-world from the others one);
- himself, in the sense of being out to fulfll some deep-felt personal need (this is more common than one thinks; from what I've seen, a big part of wanting to become an MP amounts to the search for fulfillment and esteem both from oneself and from others).

MPs also have other loyalties such as those to friends and family but let's stop the list at the riding level.

We can infer from the list above that choosing what's the right thing to do at any moment isn't easy. Different MPs will emphasize different things at different times. For example, NDPers have a reputation for emphasizing ideals, humanity worldwide, sharing, compassion, "ordinary people", etc. LThe Liberal establishment tends to emphasize party and power acquisition, whereas its membership to a great degree emphasizes humanity, country (not always in a positive sense, witness anti-US attitudes), and party. The CPC tends to emphasize country and allies, province, and party; and its establishment is also bent on power acquisition.

So, as a CPCer where does Mr. Turner fit in? Let's go through the list:

1. Ideals - hard to say. Whether Mr. Turner was acting based on an ideal or other is shaky. An argument could be made that he was out to be "democratic". But nothing has prevented him from beinging matters up in caucus, being outspoken therein, and then falling into ranks when consensus is achieved. Mind you, if the cabinet is steamrolling things through without involving the caucus very much, then the caucus willl begin to feel like a fifth wheel. Given the present circumstances, what with Mr. Harper leading a minority government and his having a small window of opportunity to get things done and to set the CPC up for the next election, steamrolling is to be expected and MP patience is in order. (The window of opportunity has been open since January 2006 - less than a year ago! - and will close when the Liberals will have a new leader). If this kind of thing goes on in a MAJORITY situation, then we have a problem, one all too frequent these days. My evaluation: Mr. Turner's actings arise more from incontinence than they do from (democratic?) idealism EVEN IF HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE PURSUING THE LATTER. Idealism is all very nice but the means and methods used to achieve its goals have to be suited to the purpose.

2. Humanity - I don't recall Mr. Turner having made world-encompassing statements so I don't think that "humanity" in the large sense was a primary driver of what he did.

3. Country - same thing as humanity.

4. Province, region, etc. - we're getting closer but we're not quite there.

5. People in Mr. Turner's riding - to tell you th etruth, I don't know to what degree Mr. Turner was out to advocate the interests of his riding's constituents. Thus, I don't know what to say here except that I suspect that he was out to help the "little guys" in his riding, who would be a subset of item 6 below.

6. "Little guys" against the rich and powerful - I suspect that this is a big part of Mr. Tuirner's loyalties (that, anb unbridled self-expression aka incontinence).

7. Political party - underemphasized by Mr. Turner. He may have felt that the CPC (and formerly the PCs) were most cogenial to him (or closest to his psychological bent), but this time around he treated his party as an elect-Turner support machine rather an institution to which he has to pay dues (i.e. paying a personal/local price for the greater good, also known as emphasizing overall optimization at the expense of local optimization <== in business, engineering, etc., optimizing a unit in a manner that subverts the greater whole (e.g. "Always keep the sales guys happy, no matter what") is called "suboptimization"). Not surprisingly, the party doesn't appreciate being used and dumped so its ejecting prima donas doesn't come as a surprise. Now, Mr. Turner will be free top express whatever he wants in whatever manner he feels most appropriate. He just won't do it as a CPC MP and he'll have to get himself elected on his own, nothing more, nothing less. The price of "personal virtue" ...

8. Personal power-acquisition. I suspect that this had something to do with it, not in an "I'll take over the world" way but rather in a "Mind my issues otherwise I'll make a stink and you'll be sorry" kind of way. As for party power-acquisition - I can only suspect that he may have reasoned that a Strong Turner would have led to his securing his seat for the future and thus getting the CPC one more seat in Parliament.

9. Himself / self-fulfillment - Mr. Turner may be talented (I've never met him so I don't know), but people being what they are, I suspect that there's strong self-fulfillment thing going on here. That's a neutral thing, in the sense that it can serve (and most often DOES serve) as the motor to one's getting into politics. Many (and in my mind even most) of the great people of this world had self-fulfillment (honour-seeking, etc.) as a strong motor for their thoughts and actions.

The above isn't exactly the most thought-out argument that I've made. However, the thing that stands out is that Mr. Turner's loyalties had no party component. He used the party to help himself get elected and then he cast it aside in the public arena (though he did maintain his access to caucus). Mr. Turner's thus became a parasite to the CPC, with him feeding on it while draining its strength. And no party that respects itself will put up with that unless overarching circumstances make it necessary.

Garth Turner: parasite. Out of what he thinks are noble motives, perhaps, but a parasite nevertheless. The CPC was right in ejecting him. Now let's see how he flies on his own (<== NOTE: not meant as a parting shot; I'm curious to see if Mr. Turner will rise to the occasion of his being unmuzzled).


P.S. Good luck, Green PArty. It'll be a fun ride, I'm sure ...

Michael Watkins


Stratos injected into the discussion:
> (Turner quote): "I know the PMO has a song sheet it wants all
> caucus members to sing from, and I know what happens when an individual
> chooses to go his or her own way. I was just hoping this time I would not
> be asked to choose _ between party and principle. I chose principle.'' --
> Feb. 9.

And commented:

> All very nice, but if you're presenting yourself as a party man during an
> election, the least that can be expected from you is party solidarity.

When we at the constituency level interview and vote for candidates do we ask "will you check your brain at the door? Will do you everything you are told to do, even if we, your constituents, feel its wrong, or you feel its wrong? Will you simply be a "yes man"? Will you, having run on your promises, renege on those promises when ordered to do so?"

How many of our current MP's - any party - ran their nomination campaigns telling party members that they'd fight for, in some undefined way, improved democracy? How many former Reformers would agree that the will of *two men* (Harper and Emerson) means more than the collective will of 46,168 voters? For that matter, how many former Reformers valued the ideals of free votes? Your vote is an expression of what you are thinking.

The notion of party discipline has quite simply got out of hand. Over many years political power within the Prime Minister's Office has increased in concentration.

No one voted for that. There was no plebiscite, no referenda. Indeed, certain conservative parties have railed against this power grab for decades, even as others were willing participants.

The use of party discipline through use of the Whip, confidence votes, and placement on committees, has certainly increased over the decades. In our more modern times it seems we expect our highly educated and opinionated members to be more like lapdogs than ever before.

Are we trying to promote a more closed and secretive system of governing? While that might appeal to those trying to implement an unpopular and ideologically driven agenda, can we rightly call such an approach democratic? No, we can not.

Do not good ideas shine in the light of full disclosure, and bad ones wither and die?

Sure, we expect some party solidarity, but the "party" is not just one person, and despite Harper's obvious expectations to the contrary, the party is not just his voice. The party is the collective will of hundreds of thousands, these days, and they are not all of one voice.

If the party leader makes an egregious affront on democracy - a mistake - even on his first day as PM, he should pay a price, as others have done.

Immediately after Harper's decision to bring Emerson into cabinet, Turner was the only sitting Conservative MP to take a very strong and principled stand on the issue. His stand was consistent with his belief that MP's should seek another mandate from their constituents if they cross the floor. While a few other Conservative names grumbled, none were willing to be as openly critical of the move.

Ironically, Turner's stand, which I happen to share, is one that helps to reinforce the very meaning of "party". In my view nothing more dilutes the brand or meaning of a party than members crossing left and right. The public are told by parties "hey, we're different", and indeed in some areas of ideology the differences between parties are profound. When members cross, the value, the meaning of the party brands, is lost and confused.

Crossing the floor without seeking a mandate leaves the constituency with a representative supporting a party, ideology and policies for which they did not extend their approval. That clearly is not democracy in action.

On the Emerson affair, Turner's stand was the only appropriate position for a MP to take. Stand up for Canada by standing up for democracy. Instead, most Conservative MP's decided to stand up for their party.

Party does not equal democracy. Just ask the 46,168 voters of Vancouver--Kingsway.

Back to the quotation provided by Stratos -- Turner's finest hour was back in February. While he may be engaged in a bit of self promotion, then as now, I do not believe that Turner's position was wrong or that his intent is anything but what he states throughout his writings.

Its up to him now to prove it by his future actions.

Phyllis Wagg

Comments on yesterday’s posts
George Pringle
18 Oct 2006 21:48:42 -0400 (EDT)

As I was an actual Reform populist when he was trying to revive the elitist PC Party, I find his populist act to be fake and totally egotistic rather than a true committment to the people.

Many former PCs remained or returned to the Progressive Conservative Party to try to reclaim it for the members and we were in the process of working towards that end. (Parties in power quickly become elitist especially when the leader stops interacting with the general membership.) This frightened the elitist elements who banded together with former Reform/Canadian Alliance elitists to create the new Conservative Party. They wanted to be rid of any trace of populism. The result is that we now have an elitist rather than a “conservative” party.

Preston Manning quite effectively managed to combine populism with ideology because of the power of his personality. It was inevitable that populism and ideology would come into conflict and one would win out. Harper was always an opponent of populism. That was why Harper was so eager to align himself with the elitists in the Conservative Party to create a new political alignment of neo-liberals and social conservatives. There was certainly a major communications effort to convince the Reform “populists” that it was the “progressives” that were their enemy and it worked remarkably well as a means to defeat both more populist factions within the two parties and create an more elitist party than either the former Reform or Progressive Conservative Parties. This was a good example of the effectiveness of the “divide and conquer” strategy that is Harper’s stock in trade.
Barry Douglas
Date: Thu,
19 Oct 2006 10:29:59 -0400

Subject: Garth Turner tossing

Harper, Day and Manning were previously sunk by “loose lips sink ships”, loose cannonballs who gave the Reform Party’s detractors lots of ammunition, to a situation now where members of the Conservatives, if they have retained the ability to think for themselves, are no longer allowed to speak for themselves.

This is a good point. The question is whether anyone can trust a party that has many members so out of tune with the majority that they must be muzzled. Every party has some members who will at times make statements that would be considered “embarrassing” by the standards of the majority of Canadians. When such statements are often made by members of the “professional wing,” it does become an issue.

Part of the problem comes from trying to build a party based on neo-liberal economic extremism and a form of social conservatism that draws large numbers of people with strongly held personal, often prejudiced, views. I call this “neo-liberal economic extremism” because it focuses on giving the economic elite control over government policy, something that classical liberal theory opposed.

For those who support totalitarian style government this kind of solidarity is a must. However, it does not prevent the media and the opposition from getting ammunition unless opposition is stifled. That is why in a fascist society all communication and opposition is controlled by both government and corporate power. In a society with freedom to oppose there will always be negative ammunition. Look at the comments of Peter MacKay with regard to Belinda Stronach: party solidarity has resulted in them denying that something was said which was caught on tape. At this point party solidarity simply makes them look silly and MacKay look “unprofessional” in his bitterness over being dumped by his former girlfriend.

Selected quotes from former Tory MP Garth Turner's blog. >
From the article (Turner quote): "I know the PMO has a song sheet it wants all caucus members to sing from, and I know what happens when an individual chooses to go his or her own way. I was just hoping this time I would not be asked to choose _ between party and principle. I chose principle.'' -- Feb. 9.

All very nice, but if you're presenting yourself as a party man during an election, the least that can be expected from you is party solidarity. Otherwise, you won't get beaten up, you won't get thrown out of the House, you'll just not be allowed to remain in a party. Simple as that.

The question is how far “party solidarity” needs to be carried to achieve effective government. Some may have other experiences but from what I can determine party solidarity and party discipline is carried through all levels of the party. In a party in which everything is controlled by the ideology of the leader, there is no real democracy. The choices presented to the party are all approved by the leader and although there may be “choices” most of them are little more than different wordings of the same policy because it is governed by ideology.

What happens if the party is defeated in the next election and it needs a new leader? Every elected M.P. will be perceived as a “trained seal” of Stephen Harper. The same thing has happened to the Liberal Party and it is note worthy that the two leading contenders come from outside the party and have little or no federal experience: one has even come from outside the country and another from a different political party.

That someone as right wing as Garth Turner is unacceptable in the new party illustrates how right wing and elitist it has become. On most issues Turner was to the right of the old Progressive Conservative Party and would have seemed a perfect fit for the new Conservative Party but ironically, it appears that some of the issues on which he now is being booted from the party (positions on environmentalism, income splitting, etc.) are ones that show a “true commitment to the people.” The party knew where he stood on these issues when they allowed his nomination. In fact, at the time I was surprised that his nomination was accepted given his more progressive positions on certain issues. Others who had publicly taken positions, not in line with Harper’s policies, on certain issues had their nominations denied.

Phyllis Wagg

Richard Neumann

Subject: Turner Thoughts


In going over much of what has been said or written regarding Turner's expulsion, I can come to only one inescapable conclusion, I can't state whether or not I support the action taken. Cabinet and caucus confidentiality are important to the functioning of government, and to a lesser degree any political party. That being said, I am not convinced that Turner crossed any line in that regard. Further, solidarity within a political organization is also an important ingredient to success. Witness the attention the media has given to the issue of whether Harper can reign in the "social conservatives" within his caucus, or the self-destruction of the Liberals under the strain of the Martin-Chretien rift. The media views solidarity as a sign of strength in a party, not weakness, and it tends to conclude weakness where dissent becomes public. That is an unfortunate and not necessarily accurate representation of the social relationships within the organization.

An MP must have significant freedom to express personal views within caucus, and some additional freedom to promote those views outside of caucus as well. The line is not written in stone, and where it falls is clearly influenced by several factors, including, but not limited to, the leadership style of the PM, the prevailing political climate, and the member's own history.

At this point in time we have a PM/Leader who earned his title during a period of significant divisions within the Party. Harper succeeded Day, who came to symbolize the pitfalls of an inability to keep vocal individual MPs united. Subsequently, Harper took the reigns of a raw CPC at a time when the immediate survival of the Party required a far greater reliance on unity than might otherwise have been the case. His formative years as a Leader have been absolutely dominated by the critical need to demonstrate unity to the public, and this need has only been reinforced by the electoral success of running a disciplined campaign. Further, Harper's view would be that the ability of his government to accomplish many of the goals he set for it during that election was based principally on maintaining a strong focus on the priorities set. Harper's history as Leader makes the CPC predisposed to treat dissent more seriously than has historically been the case for other leaders.

The prevailing political climate also tends to focus the attention on party discipline. The nature of this type of fractious minority parliament means that individual MPs who chose to express views which are not complimentary to Party policy must be cognizant of the fact that these views will be dissected more closely than in a more stable environment. The media will tend to make far more out of a dissenting opinion than would be the case were a majority government in place. This would be true of individual MPs of all political stripes, with the exception that the Liberal leadership contest gives them an accepted forum to differ on policy and direction.

Finally, the history of the MP must be considered when deciding where to draw the line. MPs who have a history of public dissent have lower expectations with respect to questions surrounding unity, but their personal views are also given less weight and importance by the media the more often they come into conflict with the Party. The MP eventually earns the label of a maverick, and the media is less likely to make the leap that comments from such an MP necessarily reflect divisions within the Party as a whole. MPs who are cautious and reserved about where and when to disagree with the government are more likely to be taken seriously when they do, but they are more likely to have their opinions gauged against those of the general membership. In other words, the risks to the more cautious MP are actually higher than those associated with the maverick.

Garth Turner's position in caucus was one in which he did relatively little harm. There was an expectation that he would take positions contrary to those proposed by the Party, and that he would be vocal about them. The media would give him some play, but they had ceased to draw conclusions regarding party unity from his actions. Indeed, his ongoing presence may have had some benefit by counteracting the impression that the CPC, and in particular the PMO, had become intolerant towards opposing viewpoints.

For this reason, I must conclude that caucus confidentiality and party solidarity were not the principal issues driving his expulsion. Indeed, the action appears almost defensive in nature and lends credibility to the assertion that something more significant was about to occur. Some consideration has been given to the possibility that Turner was going to leave the CPC on his own terms, and possibly join the Greens. I don't know whether this is the case or not, but if it was a very real concern within the CPC, then perhaps the decision to act was warranted.

Turner is having his week in the spotlight now, but the glare of the media will shift rapidly to other matters. A more important conversation than the specifics of the Turner case is how the CPC will deal with dissenting views in the future, how political parties in general grapple with the issue, and how some change might benefit our political system. Unfortunately, the media becomes the driving force behind this question, because as long as the political costs of dissent are viewed as so significant, too high a premium will be placed on the concept of unity within the political party, and in particular, within the CPC.

Richard Neumann