Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Garth The Independent

I'm not surprised by the basic contents of Garth Turner's announcement today that he is resigning his membership in the Conservative Party of Canada.

No doubt, conservative apologists will start to belittle Mr. Turner as quickly as possible.

However, I'd like to take a slightly closer look at Mr. Turner's comments for what they reveal to us, especially about the inner workings of a supposedly "grass-roots" party like the CPoC.

The people who selected me as the Conservative candidate in Halton, sent 10 questions to the leadership of the Party. Among those questions:

1. What was the reason the MP was booted out and where's the evidence? After all, they selected him and sent him to Ottawa.

2. What is the MP's status as a candidate for next election? The local party people nominated him twice in 18 months, the last time just 8 weeks ago.

3. What happens if the people in the riding nominate him again? Who decides who represents the people - the people, or the party?

Basically good questions, although the last one is a bit of a leading question - but let's just see what The Party's repsonses were:

Here is what the leader of the Conservative Party, its top officials and the National Caucus chair, have determined:

1. I have been disqualified as a party candidate for in the next election. I am a card-carrying member of the party, and yet denied the right to be a candidate.

2. That decision came in a closed meeting by the Party’s national executive. No reason given.

3. The national president of the party says I will not be permitted to seek a Conservative nomination again.

4. My suspension from caucus is indefinite, no reason will be given for it. No evidence will be provided to my electors. And I don’t know what indefinite means…

5. National caucus chair Rahim Jaffer tells the local riding all of these matters are all internal.

My, but there's a persistent theme going on here. Basically, it boils down to Garth did something to really annoy party brass and whoever they listen to, and the party isn't going to tell either the MP or the electorate what their reasons are.

Unsurprising, really. Ever since the last election campaign it's been pretty clear that Harper has been micromanaging every aspect of things with the CPoC. No big deal, but when as a party they promised us more open, honest and accountable government, I tend to feel that the responsibility for delivering on that promise starts at home.

My guess is that while McVety lost the battle last summer over Garth's nomination, he's been campaigning up and down the hallways to find a way to oust Mr. Turner. Whether or not his gambit to unseat Garth Turner plays out successfully remains to be seen.

Canada’s New Government is suddenly looking a lot like the old ones - controlling power in Ottawa while it makes both MPs and the people who sent them here irrelevant.

Well said.

My own experience has proven that not only is dissention unwelcome, but that the party poohbahs of all colours have made themselves more important than millions of voters and tens of thousands volunteers.

If this can happen to one MP, it can happen to any MP.

Seven hundred members of the Conservative Party in Halton nominated a guy as their candidate - twice. And yet a few party officials, accountable to nobody and meeting in secret, deny their actions. How is this democratic?

At the same time, this is the party that took an MP elected by a majority of people as a Liberal in Vancouver, and made him a member of the Conservative government. It makes you wonder. Sure makes me wonder.

Well, that more or less summarizes what a lot of critics of the CPoC government have been thinking for quite some time. It also tends to lend a certain credibility to the suspicion I have voiced that the party is being less than honest with Canadians in regards to it's real intentions legislatively. There is a growing body of evidence that shows the theocon base of the party is trying to exert control, and in doing so is beginning on the path of purging anyone who dares to question their dominance. I suspect Mr. Turner will be but one of many "classical" Canadian conservatives who find themselves firmly placed on the margins of the "Conservative Party" - unless they are will to at least appear as though they will kowtow to the theocons.


Dennis S.T. said...

I think Garth Turner's days of acting as a thorn in Harper's side are over. There was nothing "disturbing" revealed by Turner today. He always wanted to play by his rules, now he can.

Grog said...

Yes and no. In an immediate and rhetorical sense, yes. However, the way the party has handled Turner makes a club that can be used against them in an election.

Remember, this party campaigned on a platform of "honest, open government", and so far has delivered no such thing.

Dennis S.T. said...

People will have differeing views on Turner and this saga. Don't know if there's much of a club there, especially as his relevance fades in the coming months.

I don't see what's dishonest about any of this on Harper's part. Openness? He wants to pass the most sweeping accountability bill in this country's history, and he has already engaged in Senate reform.

Putting aside the partisan venom for a moment, Harper's record come the next election will probably come pretty close to what he promised. Not exactly, but probably not bad given what we've had in previous years.