Friday, October 20, 2006


Joe Hueglin wrote:


Jason Hickman
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 18:47:59 -0700 (PDT)

For the DD:

Joe, I wouldn't ask you to breach any confidences from your time as an MP, but I'm sure folks would appreciate your thoughts in *general* terms as to the importance of confidentiality and loyalty in a parliamentary caucus.

I've always imagined that most MPs take that sort of thing *very* seriously - but unlike most of the DD-getters, you've *been* there.

So, any thoughts?

(Jason - too late in the day to respond as of now. I will however think on it
George Pringle
Wed, 18 Oct 2006 21:48:42 -0400 (EDT)


On the potential cross to the Green Party. Since the rules of the debate is a media practice, not a standing order in the House, it is flexible. In BC, a BC Liberal crossed to a new minor party with no MLAs, they did not get into the debate.

The process is between the parties and the group of media reps, no one wants the debate cluttered with unelectable parties. The parties play hard ball in these meetings and will threaten not to debate or establish something on their own. A gimmick MP won't cut it. Obviously, Jack Layton has the most to lose so don't expect an ally there.

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.

Dorothy Dobbie
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 21:15:55 -0500


The wages of honesty and hard work in politics?
Having sat in the house with Garth under the former Progressive Conservative government, I can only say that he was an exemplary member who made a strong and positive contribution in his work on the GST and other financial files. I am sorry that he is being now treated as an outsider and made to look like a rabble-rouser when all I ever observed from him was an earnest desire to serve his constituents and to work diligently to fulfil his duties as an MP.

Best of luck to you Garth. Your job is to do what your constituents elected you to do and to represent their best interests, using judgement and intelligence. I don't believe you have erred in that regard.

Dorothy Dobbie

Glen Turner
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 02:59:30 +0000



Only a few comments...

1) In a government that is run almost entirely by the PMO, this comes as no surprise.

2) Suggesting that this is just a decision by the Ontario caucus is ridiculous

3) The CPC control of all arms of government is complete, but they just can't tolerate any dissent (if and when it happens)

4) This government was somehow supposed to be ;diifferent'.

yeah, right.

Keith coghlan
Belleville Ontario

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 23:10:59 -0400

Subject: Garth Turner Dumped

HI Joe:

Interesting news from Ottawa with the Conservatives
dumping Garth Turner. Well really does Garth fit into the "ALL HARPER
PARTY". Theres only one view in that party and I dont see how a
different view can be allowed to be expressed.

Also pretty interesting that Turner had a right wing Christian group
trying to win the nomination in his riding. Seems they dont like his
stand on Gay Marriage too liberal for the Harper group. Guess its good
that he was removed. Wonder who is next??

Should be interesting to see how this develops over the next few days.

Take care

Keith coghlan
Belleville Ontario

Matthew Wensley

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 23:16:16 -0400

Subject: Dear Garth

So you were tossed from a caucus that seems to have put aside democratic ideals in order to have ideological purity. Big Woop.

The reality is that you were elected by your constituents to represent them and their concerns to Ottawa, not elected to pass along the dictates of a party or government to the people of Halton.

Somewhere, we seem to have forgotten that democracy requires dissent and discussion. We seem to have forgotten that a political party is not some monolithic institution, but rather works best as a large tent that embraces a number of different points of view.

There are many things about the current government that I approve of. But there are some fundamentally anti-democratic forces that have been unleashed in the Conservative Party that deserve to be seen in the light of day.

You have the duty and obligation to point out the democratic deficiencies of any government, even one that you are a part of. Because at the end of the day, we must believe in democratic principals first and foremost.

I hope that the people of Halton return you to Ottawa, no matter if you represent a party or as an independent.


"There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches, and the like...
But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safeguard which is the common possession of all, and this applies especially to the dealings of democracies. What is this safeguard?
This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm."
-- Demosthenes
(384 B.C.-322 B.C.)
Source: Oration

John Halonen
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 01:16:27 -0400



Interesting that the Free Dominion has the topic on the web.

I put one there yesterday re "Should Canada Join the North American Union. Some Interesting comments by the Conservative members!


Alexander T. Bussmann
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2006 23:22:48 -0700

I'd be much surprised if the PM was surprised

Michael Watkins, Vancouver Kingsway
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 07:28:48 -0700

+1: I'd be much surprised if the PM was surprised.

Political Ops Director Doug Finley - election mastermind and Harper confidant - was there at the caucus meeting, which was not his custom. Who believes in a minority government, or any government, that the political leader of a party, who in this case happens to be the Prime Minister, is not fully informed of a plan to essentially eject a sitting MP from the party?

While I'm a fan of our Westminster model, this government has taken party discipline to extremes. Democracy is not well served by a dictatorial PMO which instructs Ministers when they can and can not talk to the press, where they should park, quite literally erects barriers to the press from meeting with Ministers and members, and requires political approval for almost every public communication. Given this oppressive and controlling regime, we should expect some members to simply roll over and go with the flow, rather than challenge the institutional group think being pushed down from on high.

Its a fine methodology for an ideological dictatorship. Some will say thus it has always been, and that Harper's leadership has only refined the art.

To this I can't respond that its a good thing.

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.

And this has occurred despite previous statements that they would be open.

Garth’s tossing, in this environment, is accordingly not surprising.

Subject: much surprised.


Phyllis Wagg
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 15:39:21 -0300

Implications of the Garth Turner Case

The case of Garth Turner brings into full focus the question of democracy and whether democracy can exist within centralized, disciplined, and hierarchical political parties. It has been evident for some time that Garth Turner’s independent stance on a series of issues made him a rebel within the party. In the past, political parties have had a high tolerance for individuality but in the last few decades, the role of the back bench MP has become far more restricted and his freedom curtailed.

The official reason for Turner’s expulsion from caucus was provided by Rahim Jaffer who is reported to have said: “There were attacks that have been made on individuals, including the Prime Minister, on his blog at different times. There have been issues relating to things that were discussed in caucus.” The implication here is that once an issue comes up in caucus the freedom of the individual MP to discuss the issue outside official party channels is eliminated. It also suggests that any caucus members that discuss and make statements on issues are doing so as part of official government policy. This is a totally new concept of solidarity because it demands not only cabinet solidarity but enforces caucus solidarity. It gives new meaning to “like-minded” conservatives.

There are many issues on which Garth Turner and I would disagree and in a free political environment we could be members of the same political party and still do so. That is not the case with the new Conservative Party because it requires a total solidarity at the elected level and high levels of solidarity among all levels of the rank and file. That was brought home to me when I was attacked at a provincial party event by the Conservative candidate for taking a position on a certain issue in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. He assumed that since I was involved in the provincial party I must also provide unconditional support to the federal party (my membership was terminated the day after the federal Progressive Conservative Party ceased to exist).

I have quoted Stephen Harper’s concept of party several times but I will repeat it here to underline why it was inevitable that Garth Turner would be expelled.

This quote comes from an interview between a reporter for the Alberta Report and Harper when the latter was seeking the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. When asked about his view of the place of the “grassroots” in the Canadian Alliance he replied in part: “Among the volunteers, the tens of thousands of people who work for the party and contribute to it, they have a fair degree of freedom of speech and action­they’re volunteers. But for the professional wing of the party, people in high and elected senior positions, I don’t think they can fall back on the term grassroots. They’re expected to act as a disciplined, professional, hierarchical organization.”

Democratic political parties were traditionally highly dependent on input from the members because the general membership was the conduit between the electorate in general and the party hierarchy. This is still how some of the provincial parties operate. When the parties went to using public opinion polls to determine public opinion the role of the membership changed radically. The general membership was reduced to fund raising and the grunt work associated with election campaigns. From what I can gather, this change initially had a radical affect on the Liberal Party as the traditional role of constituency organizations as a conduit was replaced by a top down structure.

The Garth Turner Case provides an opportunity to debate democracy and what it means. There are obviously many who like the certainty of the modern right wing ideological approach (this is the same as the left wing approach only the focus is the reverse). Decisions are predictable and based on a clear duality of values without any gray areas: the wants of capital come before the requirements of society (based on the belief that the superiority of corporate values makes their CEOs entitled to control public policy – Adam Smith must be rolling over in his grave); the rich take precedence over the poor; “traditional” allies are always right; hard power takes precedence over diplomacy; the private corporate institution is paramount over the institution of government, and so on. Granted, whenever there are “gray” areas decision making becomes far more difficult because it eliminates consideration of any strategy that could be characterized as “left.” The concept of hierarchy permeates both the party and the resulting government.

The former Progressive Conservative Party worked on the concept of consensus building rather than stark ideological divisions. In my opinion many former PCs and Reformers never understood the central issue. Manning was effective in softening the hard right wing approach with his support for a limited form of “managed” populism. Harper rejected populism because he understood that ideological purity and populism would eventually come into conflict.

Garth Turner and his approach certainly is an approach from the past in which he tries to influence policy by attempting to build a different consensus and support a more populist viewpoint. The party has clearly sent the message that there is no room for such an approach in the new Conservative Party. The question is whether the new hierarchical and centralized approach is the kind of system best suited to the needs and wants of all Canadians

From: "Dylan Tarnowsky
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 16:32:06 -0500


Given the Prime Ministers tight grip on what his cabinet says and does, I'd be very surprised if he was unaware of Garth being stripped of his caucus status. The PMO approves of everything the government and especially Conservative MPs do and say (and especially what they do not do and what they don't say). Will Harper put out a formal apology to Garth Turner if he was not aware of the decision? Will he invite Garth back to caucus? It depends on how "Steve" plays the game.

Garth Turner was a rebel in the CPC and no doubt that lit a fire under Harper. Garth is an old-school Progressive Conservative member who campaigned on accountability, fiscal responsibility and the environment. No doubt Garth thought he could "change" the CPC like most ex-PCs inside the neo-Conservative party; and look at what became of him! When the government was not accountable and down-right unethical Garth spoke up and was punished for it. He didn't toe the cold, hard line of Harper and his robotic minions and that was unacceptable. It's "unacceptable" to have a blog or to put your constituents first and the party second.

This is the kind of guy the Progressive Canadian party needs! He exposed the CPC as being the same old Reform/Canadian Alliance while they try to act like the Progressive Conservatives of old. If Elizabeth May and the Green party can court Turner, why can't we? This is an opportunity we should not pass up!

Dylan Tarnowsky, Winnipeg

Derrall Bellaire
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 18:42:29 -0400

Joe, there is no doubt in my mind that the pm, the good self righteous christian that he is, gave the go ahead. So whether or not he actually knew what he was doing, it could not have happened without his approval.

Just like the upcoming by-election in London North Centre. There are some interesting happenings within the alliance/conservative party in preparation for the soon expected call.

all the best,
Derrall Bellaire

Rosalie Piccioni
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2006 19:04:25 -0700

Hi Joe,

Asked for a decision as part of your readership, I opt for "I accept the PM was as surprised as anyone." Since Mr. Turner had been warned prior to the dismissal, it's likely that no one was really surprised that it happened. The element of surpise would have been in not being involved and not being "in on" the latest: i.e. the suspension being issued now.

Just my thoughts.



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.

Turner points to backroom boys for suspension from Tory caucus
From the article (Turner quote): "My colleagues are free to do whatever they want, but by the same token, I'm a member of Parliament and I'm free to do what I want.

Yup. You are. But as an independent now.

Turner calls Tory caucus suspension ?unfortunate'
And wouldn't we all like to hear "... not to mention justified and overdue."


The PMO has made it clear Turner's suspension was not Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision, and he was just
as surprised as anyone else, Fife said.
Of course, he knew. He just may not have been the first initiator. I'd be surprised if he didn't initial Mr. Turner's boot-out papers, though.