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Saturday, February 11, 2006

But they didn't elect an independent in Halton

From the Ottawa Sun (via Bourque):

Conservative MP Garth Turner is contemplating leaving his caucus over the backlash from Prime Minister Stephen Harper's officials, angry at his public criticism of Liberal turncoat David Emerson's appointment to cabinet.

In his online blog, Turner says he had a series of "unhappy meetings" with caucus officials Thursday over his comments, including one with Harper, who demanded he publicly support the appointment.

The Halton MP said party officials have made him feel unwelcome, and have caused him to reconsider sitting in the Commons under the Tory banner.

I suppose he's being true to his principles...sort of:

Turner said he would continue to sit as an MP and represent Halton if he does decide to bolt to the Tory caucus.

Now how many people in Halton voted Conservative because they wanted a Conservative MP to represent them? How many voted for Turner only because they figured the Conservatives were going to win nationally, and wanted to be certain that whatever MP they had in the riding, he was on the government benches and in the governing party caucus?

We don't know, do we?  Maybe we should find out.  Now how do we find out.  I've got it!  We'll have a by-election!

By Turner's reasoning, his change in status should trigger a by-election, with Turner running as an independent, to gauge whether the constituents in Halton really want an independent MP representing them.

Funny that he doesn't mention that.

On election night in Halton, less than 15% of the vote went to neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives. So it seems that the people in Halton aren't enamoured by third parties, or logically, by independents. Moreover, it was a tight race, with less than 3% of the popular vote separating Turner from Liberal Gary Carr. So it doesn't look like a big love-in for Garth Turner either.

I can see why Garth Turner would not be eager to have a potential decision to change his status as a parliamentarian put to the test in a by-election. And yet he wants to force all other parliamentarians to undergo exactly the same test in this situation.

You would think that if Garth Turner were so much more honourable than David Emerson, he would willingly submit himself to the judgment of his constituents, to set an example. Indeed, he should run his by-election campaign on this very issue. It's only fair, since he clearly believes it's in the interests of his constituents to remove himself from caucus. He could use this as an opportunity to show all of Canada that at least in his riding, people are consumed by the Emerson affair, and are demanding an MP willing to make the changes Turner is proposing.

I eagerly wait for the announcement of Turner's removal from caucus, his resignation as an MP, his announcement to run as an independent, his landslide win on the issue of by-elections, and his triumphant return to the House of Commons.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by Steve Janke on February 11, 2006 | Permalink


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God help us. Will some grown-up Tory just cool down and try to save this situation?

If Harper is going to be dictatorial, this will not work.

Garth is a showboater, and very self-centered. Big Deal. Get him in the tent, doing whatever it is they do, outward!

Harper just won a big victory with the people. He should have, and should disply a concommitant amount of magnanimity.

Given where the buck is supposed to stop in a government suppopsedly dedicated to accountability, this is Harper's fault.

Harper should fix it.

Posted by: David M. McClory | 2006-02-11 11:09:47 AM

In theory, the MP is right. But have you ever heard this maxim? Sometimes, there are wrong ways to be right!

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-11 11:20:39 AM

And if he does call a by-election and he does win, what will you do then?

Face it - if Martin had won re-election and pulled the same moves Harper did, you guys would be screaming about how corrupt the Liberals are.

Posted by: Green Party Voter | 2006-02-11 11:25:48 AM

Touché, Mr. Janke!

Of course, you can see that your fellow Tories don't want to see him be principled and leave, and potentially diminish their numbers by one.

What a joke.

Posted by: Will S. | 2006-02-11 11:38:22 AM

I think Mr. Turner is like Kieth Martin, he has no clue what he thinks - if he does think!! Politics is probably not for him. The people of Halton who approved his nomination should decide what to do with him. They are responsible for his conduct and his performance so far is not very good. I have no idea why people question Mr. Emmerson for joining the good guys, a lot of people changed their vote in the last election; are these people all 'turncoats'? If Mr. Turner is afraid of being in the governing party then he should join the Bloc or the Dippers; in either of these parties he could showcase himself 'in outrage' forever. I don't think this fellow had visions of being a backbencher in a winning party, he ran to be in opposition. So Mr. Turner, join an opposition party!

Posted by: jema54j | 2006-02-11 12:07:27 PM

The world according to Garth (in 2002)


Posted by: garth "bizfomercial" turner | 2006-02-11 1:33:51 PM

Hopefully, out of all of this might come some significant electoral reform. People who choose to live by the party system should also be prepared to XXX (not really a good analogy these days) by the party system until such time as reforms have been brought about while having the issues on the table, not under the table,nor making end runs around the table.

Why anybody would take the route that Garth Turner has taken - so openly - so "out there" - when his party is already in a lot of trouble is simply astounding. He feels unwelcome - really!!!!!!! Should it even be his option about wether he stays or goes as a conservative?

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-02-11 2:47:33 PM

Very circular logic Mr. Janke.

Emerson crosses, Turner speak out against crossing, Harper forces Turner to cross. Yes, it's all TURNER'S fault!

I guess you just can't accept that Harper is no different than Martin, and with no other party (or leader) waiting in the wings, you have you choice but support Harper. I understand that, but really, Harper was either too stupid to see all of this coming, or too arrogant to care. After all, the election is over and Harper can weild power for a little while without caring what the voters think... wait a minute... I've got it! Bush was Harper's advisor on this!

Posted by: Jarvis | 2006-02-11 2:59:12 PM

The other big thing is that the Emerson issue reeks of corruption. Emerson did not say, "I know longer share the values of the Liberal party" or "I know believe that only Stephen Harper can lead Canada." No. He wanted a cabinet post. Sorry, but I believe that the defections of people like Garth Turner and even Belinda (to a certain extent...it was partially a power grab too) and David Kilgour were about genuine misgivings they had about the directions of their parties or party leaders.

It's less gross for Garth Turner to cross because he is not doing it for personal gain.

Posted by: Krystle | 2006-02-11 3:09:38 PM

Emerson is a multi-millionaire, I tend to find the notion that his floor crossing is for personal gain beyond the grounds of reasonable consideration. If Emerson wanted personal gain he'd have resigned his seat and went back to the private sector. The man's a businessman who doesn't give a damn about the majority of the idealogical quibbles most of us here are agonizingly parsing over. Likely he saw the opporunity to work on the softwood lumber file further, and as he has a personal commitment too it and truth be told there isn't a great deal of difference between a business liberal and red tory had no difficulty switching parties to do so.

As for Garth Turner, the man is a pompous ass. This is the equivalent of a 4th line grinder taking a lazy slashing penalty when you're attempting to preserve a one goal lead. Did his rather public complaining and condemning of the party help the party? No. It helped those whom are our enemies. It is appropriate to disagree within caucus? Yes, on the other hand running to the media to complain is self-aggrandizing and counter productive.

A minority parliament is simply a marathon of an election campaign. Discipline needs to be maintained and if Garth Turner won't play for the team then a nomination challenge should be organized in his riding. Quite frankly with a whomping 3% margin of victory I have to agree with Angry that his "personal" popularity appears to have been a minimal factor in his victory.

Posted by: Chris | 2006-02-11 3:45:53 PM

Garth has every right to disagree but as a team player his disagreements should be discussed within caucus.

Right now we only have Garth's side of the story. He's experienced enough to know how to use the media to his advantage so I would take his blog comments with a grain of salt.

Harper did nothing unethical or illegal in asking Emmerson to join his team. Harper has no history of corruption or unscrupulous behaviour which is why I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt regarding his intentions.

If Paul Martin had won and done the same thing I probably would be angry. Partly because the Liberals somehow managed to fool Canadians again, but also because Martin has a history of unscrupulous, unprincipled behaviour which naturally arouses suspicion.

Posted by: potato | 2006-02-11 3:59:32 PM

Conservatives seem to have forgotten that motives and purpose matter most. Harper has no bad motives in his recruitment of Emerson. He's getting an experienced businessman, a governmental presence in a major city (good for the next election), and an opportunity to connect his government to the forthcoming Olympics (reducing the inevitable Conservative Party vs. The Canadian Olympics story that eventually would have been played out in the MSM.) Over the long run, its great politics. At least it would be if people in the party just would realize it and get in line.

This is an opportunity for good Conservative government not a display of corruption (ala Belinda.)

Posted by: Pat | 2006-02-11 4:15:58 PM

"This is an opportunity for good Conservative government not a display of corruption (ala Belinda.)"

If you repeat that over and over again you just might convince yourself that's true.

Hilarious, not in power for even a month and Harper has already flushed his lofty 'ideals'. I'm no fan of his but I'm frankly pretty shocked at the level of arrogance he's already displayed. Though I'm not at all shocked at the hypocrisy of many of the ShotDumber posts.

If Belinda was a "whore" than Emerson is a dirty whore and considering the baklash against the government I'd say Harper has already caught a raging case of political VD from him.

Posted by: justin | 2006-02-11 4:32:23 PM

Garth Turner could be any kind of jerk or nice guy, the point is he saw something that he thought was wrong and he may be right.

There are two distinct camps (or more) in this issue and whether it was right or wrong is the debate.

I applaud the motives, (if I understand them rightly) but BOO the means. Harper rushed these moves. He could have known it would look bad on him. If he had waited it would have gone a lot smoother.

Although, it may just be that Emerson couldn't bear even on day on the losing side.

In any case it's coming across very messy and
Harper was supposed go clean up the messes not make more of them.

We will see how this all shakes down, then we can do the "I told you so" then.

Regardless of what happens, Turner should be free to voice dissent if he wishes. If parliament worked as it should, all MPs could speak freely and represent their constituants properly without the fear of not getting as many perks from the boss as are available to good little suckholes.

Apparently it isn't about to change.

Posted by: Duke | 2006-02-11 4:34:08 PM

"... an opportunity to connect his government to the forthcoming Olympics ..."

Translation: an opportunity to take money out of the pockets of Canadian taxpayers and put it into the pockets of various BC politicians, bureaucrats, politically connected contractors and assorted party hacks and flacks.

Because when it comes to paying the bills, it isn't "his" government - it's "our" government.

Posted by: Justzumgai | 2006-02-11 5:29:00 PM

I think you are absolutely wrong. This is not about Garth Turner, this about the Conservative party. Let me state that I know the Liberals to be liars, thieves, and killers and the NDP to be a poor immage of them. I have been a supporter of the reform party since its inception and followed it through aliance and conservative. I have done this because I believe that unless the type of government changes drastically Canada is doomed.
With the new Government I see a non elected person incharge of the largest slush fund in Canada and a liberal. I did not vote for a CP,LIB,NDP and I would hope that someone would point this moral deficit out.
Instead of chasticing this Turner fellow why are you not asking why the ELLECTED CPC members are all sitting on their hands.

Posted by: CAW | 2006-02-11 5:40:24 PM

GARTH TURNER in September:

Maybe I’m too simple, but it seems to me that once you pick a leader, you support that leader. It also strikes me the leader is but one aspect of a political party and what we all should be doing within that party. The political process is a deeper and bigger than one man, regardless of what the media tells you.


So when I got home last night here was a note from Laureen Harper, Stephen’s wife, whom I have not met....

It was an honest and moving note, and spoke of the ups and downs of leadership, and the disappointment at seeing the infighting Canadians, and Conservatives, seem to be so good at. She was frank, refreshingly direct, and encouraging.

....We are a society in which success is rewarded with envious venom, and yet Canadians constantly bemoan the lack of strong leadership.
To become a leader in this country is to open up yourself to endless criticism, of the kind Harper is now receiving. It is hurtful and often destructive. Whether it is standing at the front of a public meeting letting your opponents rip away at you, or opening your Globe and Mail and reading about your shortcomings, leadership is hard. But as much as the leader endures, the family feels even more. This I have learned, and will not forget.

Posted by: Jonathan | 2006-02-11 6:14:39 PM

why won`t harper come out and say to all the reporters from cbc; the toronto star; the globe and mail. "I have put Mr Emerson in my cabinet to give vancouver a voice at my table and nothing else , If i had elected any member from the area Mr emerson would not be in my party at my request. Mr emerson is highly skilled in the areas, that i have put him in charge of. Then kindly remind them too , This will not save his goverment in any kind of numbers game like the belinda affair

Posted by: mark mer | 2006-02-11 6:18:33 PM

" I have done this because I believe that unless the type of government changes drastically Canada is doomed."

Well CAW, because of everything that has tranpired it looks like you will get another 10-15 years to hope someone else comes along.I don't know if you know this or not but unless you are in power its pretty difficult to do SWA. But much better to stick to our principals (even though none have been breached) and be in opposition that to be in power having used the system that has been there for years and that everyone else will use.

On second thought though, why even try and form a government cause all we'll have to do then is use the same tactics the other will use on us.

Horny toad

Horny toad

Posted by: Horny toad | 2006-02-11 6:25:38 PM

Paul Martin and Belinda Stronach colluded to throw the seventh game of the final series.

At least Emerson and Harper had the decency to wait until the series was over.

Posted by: potato | 2006-02-11 6:46:27 PM

Nice try potato, but given that many of the liberal SUPPORTERS who VOLUNTEERED their own time and effort in order to help their LIBERAL CANDIDATE get elected haven't even recovered from their election night VICTORY party hungovers before finding that their guy has gone turncoat I'd say the comparison is weak.

Posted by: justin | 2006-02-11 6:59:25 PM


My point, if you read it, was not that the Olympics were great. It's that they are happening and that they will be understood as Canadian by Canadians and by the rest of the world. The Conservative government can either be part of shaping what "Canadian" means directly or they can be perceived as not part of it at all. I prefer the former.

As for this comment:

"it isn't "his" government - it's "our" government."

Are you kidding? I am not governing the country. Neither are you. Stephen Harper, his cabinent and his caucus are. That's why we elected him. That's what I meant when I said its his government. Its our country, his government.

Posted by: Pat | 2006-02-11 7:42:18 PM

It is sad an funny at the same time. Everybody is trying to win his arguments. During this time the house may catch fire sooner than you think.

The Iranian fuhrer is working feverishly to build nukes. If he succeeds, then what? Most likely terrorists will get nukes.

I wish dear fellow Canadians that you start looking for solutions to the situation in the ME. Otherwise you may be trying to escape the house rather than fighting to find out if our leader was right.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-11 7:43:58 PM

Krystle wrote: “ ...Emerson did not say, "I know longer share the values of the Liberal party..."

I’d argue that this actually raises a point in defense of Emerson’s appointment. I doubt that, in pursuing Emerson for his cabinet, Harper asked him to denounce his Liberal ‘values’ whatever they may be. Should there be a vote on SSM, for example, Harper (unlike Martin) will not be whipping his cabinet. Emerson will be free to vote his own or his constituency’s wishes. Same for any other social issue that might arise. So Vancouver-Kingsway is in pretty much a no-lose situation here. They get a cabinet minister who’ll be working the economic front in their and everyone else’s favour in what could be described as a bi-partisan spirit. On other matters they’ll be getting a Liberal ‘conscience’.

I don’t know why both Emerson and Harper haven’t pushed this line of thinking more vigorously. And Garth Turner should get behind Harper in promoting the wisdom of the DECISION.

Posted by: JR | 2006-02-11 8:06:13 PM

What about Emerson becoming an Independent? It would allow him to fairly represent his Vancouver consituency without having to toe the Conservative party line. At the same time he could sit on cabinet and continue to work on the softwood lumber deal. Next election he could run as a Conservative for the first time.

If I recall Sir Robert Peel was Prime Minister when his party was in Opposition. There are precedents for being called to serve one's country regardless of political stripe.

Now if Garth Turner also became an Independent, Turner and Emerson could start their own little party.

Posted by: Slofstra | 2006-02-11 9:15:44 PM

Garth may not be the dim wit he appears . If involved in another close one in about 18 months he can always pull this out of the hat and play the hero. After all being reelected would be akin to winning the lottery , what with that platinum clad pension . It beats hustling real estate .

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-11 10:07:18 PM

I picked this up at another blog.
"Citizens should be reminded that we do not vote for political parties in this country and that once elected a member represents all voters in their riding, from all political persuations.

I voted for the conservatives so I could have a government that didn't steal from the people, abuse its position and reward its friends. To ask them not to practice politics is absurd. Emerson and Fortier were "political acts" and not a behaviour problem. Corruption, entitlement and smugness were how the "Liberals" behaved when they were in power.

When Belinda crossed the floor I was extremely disappointed, since it was because of her that I joined the party, but grudgingly gave the Lib's their due to the shrewd political maneuver that Paulie had pulled off. As I recall the media were all giggling and squealing over this as well. Saying how it showed that the Conservatives were incapable of running a government, Martin was the better "politician" the better negotiater and dealer. It was an orgasmic time for the MSM"

Horny Toad

Posted by: Horny Toad | 2006-02-11 10:44:59 PM

Why does the West have to pick on the Ontarian dissenter in the CPC? Where is all the fury over cowboy MP Myron Thompson's calls for Emerson to resign? Oh sure, pick on the Ontarian, the easy target. While in the mean-time the MP from Wild Rose (your own provincial flower for heaven's sake!) is saying the same thing!

Don't try and label this as a Liberal/Conservative East/West split. Harper made two very poor political choices this week and should own up to it. It doesn't matter if you come from the right or the left, the CORRECT thing to do is to run a by-election. Harper should realize this, but he pulled the old bait 'n switch and everyone on the wrong side of Thunder Bay fell for it.

Posted by: Jarvis | 2006-02-11 11:16:21 PM

No matter how people try and dress this up, it's still a pig. Many people have high hopes for Harper, particularly after his first press conference as Prime Minister Designate, but I think even his most ardent supporters can't help but feel a little disappointed. These are the signs of a corrupt political class, and I believe Mr. Turner should be commended for his stand against a cynical and manipulative system.

XXX Buchanan 2008 XXX

Posted by: Adrian Pocobelli | 2006-02-12 12:59:47 AM

Let`s get this straight now . Stronach crosses the floor in a fit of conscience , after having campaigned on the Conservative platform. There was no question about the timing , it was mere coincidence that there was going to be a vote of confidence that week and yes Paul Martian definitely needed her prodigious wisdom in cabinet, right away.
Emerson , with his expertise in the softwood file, Olympic games and business to the Orient, would be far more valuable fighting for better street lighting or garbage pick up back in opposition. And I`m sure he would have been quite content to do this till the next election where he would be condemned to opposition for 4 additional years , this a rich Princeton PHD. Yes she was right and he was wrong. How are those poor Vancouver constituents to get by with such a lousy representative sitting next to the prime minister. They should be out picketing this whole sordid affair and getting what they deserve .

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-12 1:16:04 AM

Garth should be thankful that Harper is agaaainst the by-election option because that would plave tge seat under the control of the PM: when and who can run for it.

Turner should do as Harper says and use his feet and not his mouth to show dissatisfaction whith the way people are treating him for making private meeting public.

Go sit as an independant and hopefully your office will be even lower down the basement of the House of Commons. You have every right.

Now you can appreciate why you were looked over for a cabinet position.

Posted by: fiumara | 2006-02-12 4:23:30 AM

Has everyone forgotten the main line of media attack on the new government the day after the election? There were no Tory MPs to represent Canada's major cities (Edmonton, Calgary, Quebec City, etc. not having made the grade) and, according to that media logic, the legitimacy of Harper's government was questionable. In one surgical move, that line of attack was blunted.

In David Emerson, Harper found an MP whose background and experience were likely to be useful to the new government, whose fundamental political views were not really at variance with those of the government, and who would provide the government with a Vancouver representative.

It's not clear that such an option would have been available in Montreal, so Harper turned to Michel Fortier, much as Mulroney appointed Robert de Cotret to his first cabinet and for the same reason (note that the de Cotret appointment did not hurt Mulroney in Quebec in the next election).

I'd prefer to focus on the other 25 cabinet ministers, who appear to reflect some thoughtful, pragmatic cabinet-making on Harper's part, and who represent a far more impressive team than the one they replaced.

Harper's critics in this matter remind me of the kibbitzers who used to stand around at my father's poker games, full of advice and full of themselves, small men who could never understand how a real poker player could win a pot with a weak hand.

Posted by: Roseberry | 2006-02-12 6:18:21 AM

You'll see this morning on www.garth.ca (weblog) that Garth has found peace, and wants to re-commit to the Conservative Party and to Stephen Harper. Yes, it is possible to be "dead right". Good for Stephen Harper for reaching out to Mr. Turner and leading him to an informed decision. No doubt all of the hundreds of Canadians blogging their sentiments and opinions to Mr. Turner over the past week have aided him in his conversion.

Posted by: ann | 2006-02-12 9:30:25 AM

"small men who could never understand how a real poker player could win a pot with a weak hand."

Have you been here for the last few years Roseberry? It's all small men around here bitching about Martin and accountability and now that Harper is playing some of the same games they all of a sudden talk about now it's 'how well you play the game'.

As for the rest of the ministers let's have a look at a few of them:

Michael Fortier: an unelected citizen appointed Minister. Yeah that's real accountabliliy there.

Gordon O'Connor: a lobbyist for the Defense industy as Defense Minister?? Sounds like 'clean' government to me!

Not to mention Ted Menzies, who doesn't seak French, as the Parlimentary Secretary to Josee Verner, the new Quebec Minister for the Francophone file.

Oh and fantastic post Jarvis. It's interesting how no one around here is mentioning Myron Thompson's suggestion that Emerson should consider running a by-election. It's all about Turner.

Posted by: justin | 2006-02-12 9:34:22 AM

Representing the Vancouver and Montreal areas is important , but strictly speaking it should be done with the MP`s as elected. Harper`s motivation in these appointments is a mixture of strategies and a gamble . He is taking advantage of the rules in order to select the best people , but also to send a message to both the opposition and to the electorate that he can and will be tough - minded and pragmatic . Another example of pragmatism over pay- back would be leaving Jason Kenney and Ablonzy from cabinet. The gamble is that Canadians will finally wake up and see that some stiff medicine is going to be required to get this country to a semblance of its former glory. This will require some immediate action on the 5 basic principles and rest assured it will happen.

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-12 9:36:38 AM

Turner is right to express his displeasure with a leader's decision...but the egocentric bluster and snits are all the actions of a primadonna who does not want to be a team player. If Turner leaves he should be answerable to his EDA board. at least sit as an independent until they decide what to do with him.

My opinion of Turner just took a nose dive...what a pissy pants crybaby....guess he can't get used to the fact the camera is off him.

Posted by: WLMackenzie redux | 2006-02-12 9:58:54 AM

Ger real Turner is not going independent; he`s in it for the next term..

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-12 10:21:24 AM

Wake up conservatives. Stop joining the Lieberals. The media seals -- including even today's Toronto Sun -- are driving the stake deeper. If you fools want to continue Lieberal rule. Carry on. We have a fragile minority -- the world is burning around us with real issues needing conservative attention -- and you think your purist stand on this cabinet minister will have any purpose but to weaken and demoralize, and give fodder to the enemey. Shame!

Posted by: Dave | 2006-02-12 10:37:26 AM

T o Dave the 2nd , there will be no fiddling as Canada burns . Paul Martian accomplished one thing in 12 years both as PM and Finance Minister - gay marriage ; what a man .what a legacy.
Strap on your seat belts Liberals , it`s going to be wild and you`re not going to like it. .

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-12 10:53:42 AM

Exactly Dave 1

Posted by: Dave | 2006-02-12 10:58:16 AM

More important for PM Harper and Cabinet is the
importance of monitoring the activities of MP
and Minister Peter MacKay. MacKay stated in Halifax this week that he is fully supportive of the notorious and patronage bastion of the Liberal Party, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities
Agency (ACOA). He stated that ACOA will top off
financial assistance to Michelin Tire to some $20
million in association with the Province of NS
-yet ACOA's maximum financial support for business is $500,000. as approved by Treasury Board. He stated that ACOA would open offices in
Charlottetown PEI. PEI has had two ACOA offices
in Charlottetown for decades, and a recent new
office in Summerside. ACOA has been subject to very critical reviews by the Atlantic Centre for
Market Studies, York University and the Canadian
Taxpayers Foundation. ACOA will not survive a forensic audit, which would also uncover former
ACOA Minister David Dingwall's entitlements. Perhaps Peter MacKay is not capable of responsibility for a major Government portfolio
- a lot of Maritimers insist that ACOA be subject
to a major overhaul, downsized, and personnel
recruited beyond the patronage level.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-12 11:22:42 AM

The National
Your Turn with the party leaders
Stephen Harper, Conservative Party
Jan. 19, 2006
Peter Mansbridge: Next question is coming from a city you're very familiar with, from Calgary.

Colleen Belisle: Hello, my name is Colleen Belisle and I have a question for Stephen Harper regarding the accountability issue. In the past 18 months, I have noticed a number of MPs crossing the floor after the election. This makes me wonder why I should, as a voter, go and vote when my MP can change parties after the election. Mr. Harper, are there any policies that you plan to enforce after the election regarding this issue? Thank you.

Stephen Harper: My short answer is no. And I understand the voters' frustration. You can imagine I feel that frustration as much as anyone. I was the victim of a number of the particular incidents that the voter is referring to, that Colleen's referring to, but the difficulty, Peter – I know that many members of Parliament have put forward various proposals that would restrict the right of MPs to cross the floor, force elections, or whatever. I haven't seen one yet that convinces me that it would create anything other than a situation where party leaders have even more power over the individual members of Parliament. And, as you know, I've said that, of course, I've said that for a long time that I think our members of Parliament need more authority, need to be able to represent their constituents' views, and they may make very bad decisions in crossing from a good party to a bad party or, more particularly, a winning party to a losing party. But that all said, I haven't seen one yet that I'm convinced creates a bigger problem than it's actually trying to fix.

Peter Mansbridge: Do you think voters are as uncomfortable as Ms. Belisle points out when these kinds of things happen? Because if they are, one assumes that they are looking for direction from their political leaders to prevent this from happening. As you pointed out, some parties, the NDP has said it would force an immediate election. Do you think something has to be done?

Stephen Harper: Let me give a concrete example of an alternative situation. The Conservative Party of Canada, the new Conservative Party was created because people left actually no less than three separate old caucuses, two old parties, and joined with a new party, and I think there is widespread consensus among not just members of the old parties, but members of the public as well that this was a good thing to create a stronger opposition, to end the fragmentation of the conservative movement in the country.

Now, you know, this kind of law could have forced us into a situation where we were having 75 byelections. So, you know, that's a problem with any of these proposals. We understand, I understand why people want them, and, believe me, there's a couple of cases that have happened where I'd love to have a law like this, but there's also a lot of downsides when you think it through. As I say, in a practical matter, I could see how party leaders could really abuse that particular provision to make it even more difficult for members who may disagree legitimately with their party to operate within the party.

Posted by: Sharon | 2006-02-12 11:35:49 AM

Horny Toad you just don't see it. When your on a team your suposed to be loyal to it. So why piss on the team when there ahead by recruting two bums of a park bench and putting them on the first string?

Posted by: CAW | 2006-02-12 12:24:00 PM

>Harper made two very poor political choices this week and should own up to it.<

As someone who obviously voted for and supported the most corrupt, inept party in the history of the G8 and were willing to watch the end of Canada (I have news for you, a good many Canadians have simply had enough of your style of government), I find it comical you should talk about poor political choices.

Harper has the right to choose whoever he wants, and doesn't have to own up to anything. I could wear out a keyboard typing about all the things the disastrous Liberal government should have to own up to, but why bother.

The legacy of the Liberal government is one of wasted billions in tax payers dollars and the literal theft of millions more, not to mention forcing their socialist agenda on all of us. And by appointing two cabinet ministers he has sunk to this level? Give it a rest people. I don't agree with the moves either but to compare him in anyway to the "other guys" borders on ridiculous.

Compared to the "choices" made by the last gang of clowns I will give Harper the benefit of the doubt before accusing him of anything.

Posted by: deepblue | 2006-02-12 1:31:58 PM

Reading these postings......... Yikes!! Depressing. We should be suggesting solutions to these problems. Here goes. Deep breath , let all those politicos that want to cross and recross the floor to their hearts content for six days do so. On the seventh day we'll see how it snakes down. We'll at least know who the really expedient ones are for the next election.

Posted by: circe | 2006-02-12 3:36:42 PM

Whoops, I meant shakes down

Posted by: circe | 2006-02-12 3:39:11 PM

You can rationalize any way you want, but there is no way around it:
- Emerson did something very unethical
- Harper is very close to being a hypocrite

I fear this will cost CPC dearly, it may in fact lead to another 12 years of the Libs, much sooner than we would like.

Huge mistake, Mr Harper, huge.

(For the record, I am a CPC supporter.)

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2006-02-12 6:53:20 PM

Rumour has it that 10 to 12 right leaning Liberals may cross the floor in April when Parliament resumes.

Is Garth going to demand for byelections for each one of them?

Posted by: Trawna | 2006-02-12 11:06:25 PM

My summary of the people (on this issue) who are somehow defending Harper and defaming Turner?

Caeser can do no wrong.

Posted by: Jarvis | 2006-02-12 11:29:37 PM

Right on deep blue . These people need a reality check . They are seriosly challenged when assigning proportion . That is the cheapest technique of all and Liberals hold a patent on it.

Posted by: dave h | 2006-02-13 10:31:19 AM

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