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Friday, February 10, 2006

Garth Turner Agonistes

My friend Andrew Coyne says that Tory MP Garth Turner has been punished for "the crime of calling the Conservative party back to its senses" by criticizing the democratically iffy cabinet appointments of Michael Fortier and David Emerson.

I disagree.

Many people are criticizing the cabinet picks. Much of the conservative punditocracy and blogosphere is -- that's their job; no crime there. Much of the Tory caucus and cabinet is, too -- maybe even most of them. Again, that's their job, no crime there. But they're doing it in caucus and cabinet.

They understand that for a government to survive -- especially a minority government, in power for the first time in over a decade -- it must show discipline and unity, at least outwardly. That discipline has its limits, of course, pace John Nunziata's principled dissent on the core Liberal promise of a GST cut. Is Turner really at that point -- has he really put a good faith effort into resolving the problem within caucus or the party itself? Is it a do-or-die issue with him? Is this really his issue -- did he ever express such a democratic hankering when he was an MP in Brian Mulroney's or Kim Campbell's rather, uh, top-down administrations? Perhaps he is a late convert to the Reform Party's principles; too bad that party no longer exists.

Back to reality, please. This is a showboat MP acting out -- someone who resents not being in cabinet, who expected that he would be. He knows that he can get as much airtime as a cabinet minister if he dishes his own party, all in the name of democracy.

I repeat, for the benefit of critics of the cabinet appointments, that there are legitimate criticisms to be made. But what Turner is doing -- at this early stage, in this showy manner -- is not genuine, constructive criticism. It is undermining; it is fomenting; it is splitting. There might be a time or an issue for such desperate measures. This is not it.

I don't generally recommend Jeffrey Simpson, who was an honourary cabinet minister in Paul Martin's government, and still carries a torch for that team. But his 1980 book about how Joe Clark's minority government failed should be required reading for the entire 2006 Tory caucus -- Turner should be asked to read it out loud to the whole group. It's title says it all: Discipline of Power: The Conservative interlude and the Liberal restoration.

Turner is a delight to the press gallery, of course. He gives them cover for their own lust to attack Harper. But that is not what the party needs if it is going to achieve its important policy objectives over the next two years.

This is not actually about the cabinet appointment. It is a clarifying moment for Turner and the rest of the caucus. Is a showy, public venting of a disagreement more important the the resultant weakening of the party's ability to govern? Or is this just Turner scratching his own political itch for fawning press?

I'm betting that most of the caucus, and most Tory voters, would rather implement the GST cut, choice in childcare, better Canada-US relations, a stronger military, etc., etc., than to win an ideological purity contest. And coming from an old Mulroney/Campbell hack like Turner, the purity schtick is a little unconvincing.

Posted by Ezra Levant on February 10, 2006 | Permalink


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Exactly! Turner knew exactly what he was doing, and extracted the maximum amount of damage to Harper and the party in doing so. He's very media-savvy. And Susan Bonner, filling in on Newman's program, was oh-so obliging to hold the knife while Garth pushed it it.

This guy is a loose cannon. Fit's with his own shady past.

Posted by: Erik Sorenson | 2006-02-10 1:06:29 PM

Agreed - absolutely right. If Turner keeps it up
the Liberals may not accept him; can't be trusted
-a Greeter at WalMart perhaps?

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-10 1:12:12 PM

Speaking of that shady past:


Garth, enquiring minds want to know...

Posted by: Paul Canniff | 2006-02-10 1:19:38 PM

Figures that Levant would scrape up some pathetic excuse for the behaviour of the Conservatives thus far. Drum roll... it's yet another media conspiracy! All those Conservative-hating media types are out to get Harper, and Turner is helping them! Of course, that must be it!

What a joke. Harper messed up and showed himself to be as power hungry and Machiavellian as any Liberal. He's no different. Talk about media conspiracies all you want, but Harper and the Conservatives just blew all their political capital on a couple of piddly cabinet picks. Way to go.

Posted by: newsjunkie | 2006-02-10 1:19:49 PM

We're not saying overthrow the government. But why can't PM Harper admit he made a mistake, and call a by-election and have Mr. Emerson run as a Conservative? Harper would be admitting that he's not perfect and he should have never appointed a turncoat to Cabinet.

Posted by: Q | 2006-02-10 1:24:09 PM

Garth Turner: A Man of Principle or the Jimmy Swaggart of Business News? A dubious past at any rate:


Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-10 1:50:03 PM

Funny how every other Party can have floor crossers and the media doesn't keep it going for days and if we need a byelection to cross the floor, what about to sit as an Independant. They aren't representing the Party that paid all their expenses. Think this story has had it's day. Let's all mellow out.

Posted by: Ruth | 2006-02-10 1:58:09 PM

I think the situation is more complex than a 'crossing the floor'.

And, most certainly, newsjunkie, the media ARE against Harper. Remember, that most of them have lived their educational and working lives within the Liberal regime and, intellectually, well - there aren't many who have 'the smarts', in my view, to see beyond that propaganda. Those who went to university were educated within the socialist ideology of the welfare state- the dominant ideology of the social science and humanities programs of our universities.

But, this situation is far more complex than the way it is being portrayed in the media. If you are operating in a party system, where the leader must select his cabinet only from within his own party, and only from within those elected - this sets up a particular constraint. The constraint is: (a)only within the political party and (b)only elected.

Now, what if you have an agenda of operations that requires skills and knowledge that is outside of the range of (a) and (b)?? How do you deal with this?

I am NOT dealing here, with the agenda of 'Next Time We Get A Majority' - and agenda which is being proposed by the Media, for Harper's actions. That is, the MSM are claiming that the ONLY reason Harper selected Emerson and Fournier, is to Get Representation in the Big Cities..so that Next Time...etc. I am sceptical about this as a reason. The MSM, however, operate only within this mindset of "Power, Take Over, Win..". I don't think Harper is operating this way.

Most certainly, the MSM were crowing, repeatedly, that Harper doesn't have any Urban Support!...He's just a farm-boy! When it was pointed out to them, that the cities which DID go CP, were hardly outback chicken-in-the-front-yard towns...they moved to: "But he doesn't have the Big Three!!!!". So- the MSM think that these two appointments are to deal with that.

I wonder.

I think that they are about expertise. Harper wanted THEM, these particular men. Not a Body in a Big City. But - THEM. He wanted their expertise.

I get the sense, and I know that it sounds strange, that Harper is focused on a governance. He has a PLAN for the development of Canada. I know we aren't used to our government having a plan for the future development of Canada. We are used to Chretien, who had only ONE goal; himself staying in power. And Martin, who equally, had only one goal - the Liberals staying in power. Chretien laundered money, bribed people, set his cronies up in patronage positions..to enable this. Martin flung bribes to each and all; Martin's Laws, passed in parl't, eg. SSM, had only ONE GOAL - votes.

Harper is completely different. Completely. He has a specific blueprint for the development of Canada. It is decentralized, it gives economic, political and social power to the provinces and reduces Ottawa's nature as a Nanny-Welfare Authority. It increases Canada's role in defense and the fight against terrorism in the world. It increases Canada's capacity to be economically viable in the world..and not rely on and only on, the US to take 85% of all our exports. And so on.
It's an actual plan. No Liberal govt has had a plan for Canada. All of them, have had only ONE agenda. Their own power.

We aren't used to blueprints and plans. We aren't used to a requirement for people to implement these plans. Instead, we are used to positions of power going to people as REWARDS for supporting the Liberals (Stronach); and..all the appointments made by Chretien and Martin (eg Gagliano, Radzwanski, Guite, Dingwall, on and on and on.) These are all appointments made as favours, for favours received. They have NOTHING to do with expertise or any plan for Canada.

Harper is completely different. He requires specific expertise to do specific tasks. His dilemma is - what does he do, if his elected people don't have such expertise? He required Emerson for the economic operations of the West, and Fournier, for Montreal and Quebec.

Now - as Captain's Quarters has pointed out, in the US, you CAN appoint someone from the opposite political party to your cabinet. His example was Clinton picking a Republican, Willian Cohen, to be Secretary of Defense. Rather an important position.

Could Harper have put Emerson into that position if he remained a Liberal? I suggest that would have been the 'best solution'. Is it possible in our system? I am maintaining that what Harper wanted, was Emerson's expertise. He's indifferent to the political party.

Fournier? Could he have appointed him as a Deputy Minister? Or the same with Emerson, and achieved the same goal? Or, if he had to 'cover' both of them with a 'fake Minister'..would that have created personality conflicts?

Again- it's complex. I'm suggesting that our system has some 'kinks' in it, as a system, which make it difficult to select people to run a government..that has an active agenda, that has specific tasks to carry out. Does our system only enable a party to stay in power, but doesn't enable that party to develop and work out a blueprint for the country?

I think Harper is doing what in some fields is called 'bricolage'..which is where one doesn't have all the tools one needs, and so, makes up some of those tools..with bits and pieces from elsewhere.

Then - he'll work on his blueprint. I suggest that the MSM go on holiday or find something else to attack.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-10 2:01:41 PM

That's right ET. Wasn't the Reform Party at one time proposing that all MP's could work together and vote according to their own principles not having to go along party lines? And I suppose for the best government use the best people in the house?

Posted by: Stewart | 2006-02-10 2:15:06 PM

It's funny how the daggers come out for Turner when he pipes up, but nobody says boo when Myron Thompson says pretty much the same thing.

I'm not the biggest Turner fan, but at least has the guts to say what a lot of conservatives are thinking.

Posted by: Gunnar | 2006-02-10 2:36:00 PM

Garth ran one of the best campaigns in the country, becoming the only true Toronto suburban candidate to hold back the anti-anti-abortion tide the last week of the campaign. (Sorry Durham...you don't count as Toronto suburbia). But, he got carried away with himself yesterday, and it's really created quite a mess. At least he's the only one to get sucked in by the press vultures (no one seems to want to interview Myron Thompson...). Sounds like Harper and Hill brought down the hammer very hard, so hopefully this won't happen again. Ezra, you are absolutely right. We didn't wait 13 years in the wilderness to let a loose cannon help tear it down in Clarkian style.

Posted by: NCF TO | 2006-02-10 2:37:07 PM

Your hyperbole is over the top. How can a couple of contraversial decisions possibly be equivalent to twelve years of incompetence, scandal and the undermining of democracy?

Garth reminds me of the hockey player who slags his coach everytime someone puts a mike in front of his face. Pretty classless. However, I'll take this over Adscam, HRDC, Relogate, Shawinigate, Dingwall, etc, etc, anyday.

Posted by: potato | 2006-02-10 2:41:22 PM

Garth Turner owes the fact he is sitting in Government rather than opposition to Stephen Harper.

Newsjunkie: There are two sides to every story. Why is the media only reporting one? When Belinda crossed there were both critics and supporters. I am not seeing that here, and this crossing had far less impact on the sitting goverment than Belindas did.

Posted by: ward | 2006-02-10 2:56:41 PM

The bias of the MSM is nowhere more evident in how they are handling this issue. When Belinda crossed over, they were all over Stephen Harper for losing an MP. Now, they're all over him for gaining one. In contrast, the Liberals haven't been subjected to one peep of criticism for losing one of their own.

This is just another reason why I get most of my news from blogs these days. I get the feeling that the MSM is increasingly preaching to the choir. They deserve every loss of readership and viewership they get.

Posted by: Dennis | 2006-02-10 3:13:32 PM

Garth Turner is the turn coat not Emerson.

Posted by: Robert | 2006-02-10 3:26:58 PM

Ezra...you're on the money......ET,that was eloquently said......Garth Turner, you ran an admirable campaign but you've fallen in love with your own image in the camera lens.....maybe you always were a mirror junkie....maybe you're just so insecure that you need constant media attention......I think people are actually laughing at you Garth not with you!......Mr Harper is indeed a blueprint mechanic and hopefully not lost at sea with a bunch of Party Hacks....Only time will tell;so loosen up and at least let the guy drive the bus like we hired him to......This sanctimonious undermining of the current standing gov't is foolish politics at best and self servingly destructive as an exercise in keyboard semantics at worst. In other words give the guy a chance.......that includes at least voters and caucus......After all is said and done what do we want?....More of the last twelve years or a fresh approach to our future as a strong Canada.

Posted by: simon | 2006-02-10 3:30:33 PM

There's an old joke about the Norwegians, that they're opposed to sex because it leads to dancing. The joke being that insistence on principle for the sake of principle can result in the eversion of principles.

In this case a party was elected on a promise to stop unprincipled behaviour -- money laundering, third-world style entitlements, intimidation. That the leader of the new government would opt where appropriate for invaluable experience and knowledge over partisanship is commendable.

It is obviously contentious too, but for those who scream of hypocrisy it is worth remembering that back when Conservative voters were almost apoplectic over Belinda's crossing, Harper, uniquely, more or less shrugged. And more recently, when asked in a televised voter forum days before the last election whether he would be in favour of legislation that would require byelections in the case of floor crossings, he stated clearly that he did not, and that voters could speak out at the next election.

As for Conservatives like Garth Turner, it's the same old story: they're opposed to power, because it leads to politics.

Posted by: EBD | 2006-02-10 3:40:27 PM

So Little Stevie Firewall has a blueprint, does he? Well, since he has a blueprint, I suppose we should put aside all talk of consistency, democratic accountabilty, parliamentary government, and all those other messy procedural niceties and let him implement it.

Because, hey, he got 36% of the vote. Elected a whole 21 more members than the next nearest party. Clearly, this is an overwhelming mandate for massive and irreversible change and no one -- not the media that gave him a comparatively easy ride during the election, not his own caucus, which sold him as a man of integrity and incrementalism to the voters back home, and certainly not the electorate or the opposition parties (traitors is more like it!) -- should dare stand in his way or utter a peep as Little Stevie does What Has To Be Done. Because he has a vision. Mind you, so did Hitler. And Stalin. And Mao. And Mussolini. Vision is over-rated. Happily, in this country, you have to sell your vision to, if not a majority, at least a substantial plurality of the country. And Little Stevie didn't close the deal in the last election.

As much as I'm amused at conservatives turning themselves inside out over Emerson and Fortier -- watching you guys try to get this thing up and running is more fun than watching the clowns-in- the-car stunt at the circus -- I kind of feel bad for the true believers, who've had their moral high-ground yanked right out from under them. Sure, that's the natural result when holier-than-thou meets political reality, but still, kudos to them for taking their principles seriously.

And while their complaints may be naive, they're a lot easier to stomach than than the paranoids(the MSM's out to get us!) the wannabe republicans (Stevie should be able to appoint Donald Rumsfeld to Foreign Affairs if Rummy's the right man for the job!) and other assorted Harper apologists (Ezra!) who are attacking them.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-10 4:26:08 PM

Too bad for Garth Turner,
he's on the back burner,
And not even part of the mix;

Some said our man Dave,
was just a rogue knave,
but problems he knew how to fix;

Now Stronach's a honey,
don't look at her funny,
she looks really good after six;

But old Stephen Harper
has proved to be sharper,
while CBC's up to old trix...

Posted by: peter o'donnell | 2006-02-10 4:51:20 PM

Oh, good god, truewest - what an absolutely juvenile and 'ad absurdum' remark- bringing up the 'Hitler syndrome'. In pop logic, it's called 'reductio ad Hitlerum'.

Hey- did you know that Harper is male? And..so was Hitler..Oh gosh. Oh...and their last names..gosh..they both begin with 'H'. Gosh. Hey, so does 'hell'...and...Oh..

Stop name-calling. Stop the 'Little Stevie' trivial schoolyard semantics. Stop ad hominem. Stop your ever-present fallacious analogies. Stop reductio ad...whatever.

And stop, stop, stop writing in such a contemptuous, sneering manner. You always inform us, in your superiority, how 'amused' you are at our, according to you, utterly invalid and ignorant opinions and discussion. How condescending and scornful you are to us.

I repeat my point. Harper has, unlike the Liberal governments, a specific agenda. The problem in our governance is - how does one achieve a governance, for a blueprint, that requires expertise in certain areas. In other countries, you don't have to rely only on the elected representatives for all your expertise. How does one achieve this, in Canada?

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-10 5:09:59 PM

You want me to stop name-calling on a site that sells Libranoes t-shirts? Where every third poster uses the coinage"Lieberals"? Where the media is generally derided as the MSM (why not make it the 666?) by people who seem to have a trouble reporting simple facts or adhering to basic principles of reporting -- you know, accuracy and reliability - much less understanding the workings of parliamentary democracy? Hey, I'm just trying to fit it -- in my own little way.

As for your serious question -- if Mr. Harper wants Mr. Emerson and Mr. Fortier to serve in his cabinet, without pissing off his true-believer supporters, he can find them safe seats. I hear there are a few in Alberta. If he merely wants them to work for his government, he can hire them as Deputy Ministers - and if they're as good as you think they are, they may even stick around for the next government. If he wants to appoint whomever he likes to his cabinet, regardless of their electability, he can run for office in another country.

BTW, I'm not comparing Harper to Hitler (and I don't think you actually believe I am). I'm merely pointing out that the existence of a blueprint is not, in itself, the fine idea that you seem to think it is.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-10 5:30:28 PM

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.

Posted by: Lemmytowner | 2006-02-10 5:33:52 PM

ET, you write exactly what I am thinking, only far better. Thank you for the comments that are
adult and the fact the prime minister has more
going for him than the next election.
He has done more for us than people realize, they
are now working to bring the age level to sixteen
of contsent. This was something I was very determined to see changed.
He has already shown America we are friends, but
not friends who will be bullied. I am sure the
Americans, including President Bush, respect
this. We can disagree and still be friends. No
stupid and wrong remarks from Canadians anymore.
He has had to deal with his family having to move
into a dump which must have been fun, see the
stupid comments on not hugging his children in
public, the cabinet that people have a knee
jerk reaction to, not looking at the long term,
be installed as prime minister, while telling
the border guards they will get guns, will be
stopping the registry, has promised the RCMP
they will get more very needed staff.
Hmm, gee, maybe all the petty talk around here
should take a look at the reality out there.
He is a very smart man and if the critics would
stop and think, they could see the damage they
Get after the CBC and other media that are going
to do every piece of negative thinking of the
prime minister they can. They are powerful and
nasty and if you want to really help, try some
real loyalty and fight the right war.

Posted by: cjg | 2006-02-10 5:52:15 PM

I guess we can see many commentators are frustrated libranos! They are looking for a bone to chew on!

Political parties are not a religion. They are a group of people trying their best according to ideas.

Come on frustrated libs, try to work for the good of this country.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-10 5:53:29 PM

That's right, truewest, I'd like you to stop name calling. Your attempt to justify yourself by 'tu quoque' is trivial. Don't tell me you are 'just trying to fit in'. That's not a good enough reason for you, or anyone, to do that.

As for the term 'MSM' - that's an acronym for Mainstream Media, and refers to the standard communication systems of print, radio and television. There's nothing derogatory about such an acronym.

What people who have trouble reporting facts and adhering to basic principles of reporting? Who are you referring to??? We bloggers? Kindly prove that bloggers have 'trouble reporting simple facts' and so on. Blogs have shown, over the past few years, that they are vitally important in the actions of validity and reliability. Get your facts wrong, and within minutes, some blogger, somewhere, will correct you. The important strength of the internet is its self-organizing capacity, its self-correcting capacity. No journalist has that. Only a network can do that...

And name-calling and contemptuous sneers are not a mature way of 'fitting in'. They are juvenile.

Personally, I find the practice of parachuting in some desired individual into a 'safe-seat' an absolutely undemocratic action.

You hear there 'are a few in Alberta'. Is that yet another one of your snide, sneering remarks?

No- I didn't say that they are good; so, you have no right to say: 'If they are as good as you think they are". I am saying that Mr. Harper thinks they are good. OK? Get the difference? How could I say such a thing, when I don't know either of them?

You are the one who brought up the Hitler analogy, so, your attempt to backpeddle on it won't work. That includes your attempt to absolve yourself of your action by stating that I didn't really believe that you meant it (what do you know what I thought?)...You brought up the analogy..

My question remains - how does our system deal with the need for expertise in the running of a gov't, when the elected representatives don't supply that expertise. What does one do? I don't know the answers..and I'd like to know. I think it would have been a great tactic to LEAVE Emerson as a Liberal..and still have him in the CP cabinet. Would that have been possible?

Would Emerson have been eligible to be appointed as a Deputy Minister? How?

I think it's an important question..and wonder how, for example, Australia, which I consider has improved its political system ten times better than Canada - how would Australia deal with this?

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-10 5:54:02 PM

Did I login onto the bizzaro internet or is this www.easternstandard.ca?

I'm seeing a lot of 180-degree attitude changes, that wouldn't have stood before Jan 23rd.

Posted by: Gunnar | 2006-02-10 6:04:36 PM

Looks to me like Garth Turner is Canada's very own John McCain.

Posted by: MSYB | 2006-02-10 6:08:30 PM

I know what MSM stands for. I also know that's it not a neutral term in these parts.
As for the self-correcting nature of the blogosphere, I'm afraid it's greatly overrated. The internet as a whole may self-correct, but most blogs, including this one most of the time, preach to the choir. And so all manner of crap that is discredited in the dreaded MSM -- Swift Boat Vets, Iraq sponsored al Quaeda, Beverley McLachlin (or McLaughlin or..) as Liberal hack -- lives on in these little corners of heaven.
As for the rest, name-calling is common practice here, so I'll post as abrasively as I like, thanks very much. And you may scold me for it.

BTW, if David Emerson wanted to serve as Deputy Minister in a Harper government, he could have. It's not a very glamourous job. Nobody calls you by your title. But if all you're worried about is public service...well, the opportunity exists.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-10 6:28:48 PM

Right on Remi houle! Lots of frustrated liberanos on here, seems they and the media just can't get used to the idea, a severe case of denial, that the Conservatives are in!

On an interesting note, George Stroumboulopoulos CBC-tv was in BC last night. He interviewed, Pia Shandel from CFUN 1410 Vancouver Radio(rather he tried to put his usual negative slants and criticisms of the hows and whys of the new cabinet appointments this week, namely the appointment of David Emerson and what an un-conservative thing to do.) Pia Shandel basically congratulated Mr. Harper and put the whole thing in perspective --- David Emerson is a very powerful, successful and well-connected man, and he will use that power to solve the softwood lumber issues as well as other trade issues for Canada.

Our new prime minister knows what he's doing, so liberano's take a break from chewing the bone.

Posted by: TWestCGY | 2006-02-10 6:39:31 PM

truewest - no, the self-correcting nature of the internet is NOT greatly overrated; it exists and is a basic component of a networked communication system. And a blog is part of the internet; even one blog will self-correct.

MSM means exactly what I said it means- and as such, it has informational problems of validity and reliability that the internet doesn't have. THAT is the reason for its 'not being a neutral term'. It can't be; it has informational problems, namely - it is linear; one-way unidirectional. That's not how a robust information system should operate. In our modern world, information travels without attention to space and time; the MSM, with its unilinear format, finds it very difficult, indeed, impossible, to operate in a non-linear or complex networked manner. (Check out Castell's books for this).

Go ahead - continue with your juvenile tactics of argumentation: name-calling, sneers, constant perjorative metaphors, telling us how 'amused' you, The Superior One, are at our discussions, and, the use of fallacious analogies. And, your common excuse for your contemptuous comments- is to say that 'it's your fault that I behave the way I do; I'm just copying you'. Now - that has to be one of the most juvenile excuses of all. Do you behave only as others do, or don't you have your own principles?

Oh-so now, you assert that the reason Emerson didn't serve as Deputy Minister, is because it's not a 'glamorous job' and one is not called by a 'title'. So - now we know why. You've told us the Real Truth. The facts. Or is it just - More contempt, more slander, more ad hominem. And not a single fact.

Again, I'd like to know - Can an elected representative serve as Deputy Minister? What are the qualifications for such?

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-10 7:15:48 PM

It amuses me to no end that you trot out theory, but seem to have no clue at all how a parliamentary democracy works. If service is all Emerson's interested in, he could resign his seat and hire on as a deputy minister. then the voters of vancouver-kingsway could choose their representative and Emerson could lend his expertise to the greater good. How hard is that to understand? (BTW, I'm not saying there's something horrible about him crossing the floor. It's a little shady, but it's hardly unprecedented. Take note: It's conservatives who are calling him unprincipled.)
You seem to suffer the same illusion in relation to the supposedly self-correcting nature of the internet in general and blogs in particular. Sure, it works fine in theory - and it may even work in practice, albeit unreliably, in a truly open forum like wikepedia. But as far as I can see, this blog (and others like it) rely on interlopers for correction. Beyond that, it's about as reliable as a group of dogs sniffing each other at the off-leash park. Case in point: the torrent of flattery that greeted Ezra's shameless fishing for compliments about his appearance on Newsworld (that bastion of MSM).
As for Emerson's chances of re-election or success in a by-election, if Pia Shandel's your source for that slice of wisdom, I say bet the farm. Pia knows all, sees all. Your money is as good as doubled. Disregard historical results or anything said by anyone who actually lives in the riding or, indeed, the fact that the Conservatives have never won VanKingsway and finished a distant third in the last vote. Forget that. Emerson's a man of almost irresistible charisma. Listen to Pia. This is one to bet the RRSPs on.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-10 11:23:50 PM

Yes, this is the Bizarro universe version of Canada, I think. The number one news story -- hockey players are placing bets on sports events.


The number two news story, Wiarton Willie predicts an early spring, heads into his burrow, and is buried under a metre of snow.


Okay, then there's news story number three, people are out in their shorts in Calgary in the middle of January. When was the last time that happened?

UMM, 2005?? 2004?? EVERY YEAR SINCE 1890???

Moving on, residents of Vancouver-Kingsway are dreadfully upset that their M.P. has joined the (ugh) Conservatives. Pleading with international journalists and representatives from the Vatican, they tearfully aver that they are Liberals, or if not that, then New Democrats, and really, really progressive people who like to roller blade, have sex with any life form that they choose, and take care of mother earth. This takes up so much of their time that they just can't get around to picking up the garbage that is everywhere on their streets. Can't the international media help them in this hour of dreadful need? Instead of snoring away beside a comatose Ken Dryden on their behalf, their M.P. is now proposing to bring prosperity and influence to British Columbia. This will wreck everything the people of Vancouver-Kingsway have not worked for, and force them out to work.

There may be another news story just coming in, ah yes here it is, "people die of shock as Ezra Levant appears on CBC, fills ten minutes of air time with sensible analysis."

Posted by: Peter O'Donnell | 2006-02-10 11:31:52 PM

My final comment on Turner, have written him off
but I must point out that as the Conservative
Candidate, Turner did not "run the best campaign
in Canada" - Harper's Conservative election strategy group ran an excellent campaign, which is mandatory to beat the Red Machine. I worked in the election as a long time Liberal when we
destroyed Kim Campbell; Turner was a member of
that Government. The "Progressive Conservatives"
of the period were left with two seats, Garth
Turner's was not one of them. What really bothers
me is what Turner has done to his own Party, and
by definition, to Canadian politics. Harper's
election campaign was classic,focused on winning
heats and minds Canadian politics. As I have said
Harper won because he deserved to win; without him there would be no Conservative government in

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-11 1:53:54 AM

truewest - you still haven't, despite your assertion of your own superiority, ("it amuses me") - answered my question.

YOU haven't informed me HOW one becomes a deputy minister. Can an elected representative move into such a position? I strongly suspect, and this is despite your oft-repeated assertions of your intellectual and moral superiority to everyone here - that you simply haven't a clue.

As for the internet - I stand by my point; it's self-correcting. Your example is spurious and irrelevant. Notice: You JUST corrected that example!!! Get it? There's no such thing as an 'interloper' in the internet; you are 'thinking' of the internet as if it were a closed set. Wrong (and this is despite your self-asserted superiority). It isn't; it's open; there's no such thing as a closed set, ie a closed membership made up of only homogeneous members in a complex network; it couldn't be a node in that network if it were.

I've no idea who/what Pia Shandel is.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-11 5:49:43 AM

Peter O'Donnel is truly a 'real piece of work.' People who follow Green policies don't work? Vancouver Kingsway is full of litter? Has this person even visited Vancouver? Does he work? Doubtful.

Anyway, ET poses an excellent question. What should a Canadian government do if it needs more experience and brain power in Cabinet. Emmerson brings these.

But does Harper have to restrict himself to Cabinet to get this expertise? I do not have enough direct experience to judge and I think we need to wait and see how a CPC cabinet will work before we pass judgement.

That said, Emmerson will not be elected again in Vancouver, I doubt he will even bother to run again. Harper will not call a by-election he knows he will lose. Emmerson will resign after a few months, quietly dissillusioned, and go on to do what he does best - run large organizations. He is not an innovator, not even a great strategist, but he is solid and Vancouver needs people like him in positions of authortity. I remain concerned about Vanoc - let's have Emmerson there.

ET - are you suggesting that Emmerson remain in parliment and become a DM? Sounds like a dangerous precedent. I am foolishly hoping that Harper will help us get back to a professional civil service and not further politicize it. Naive, I know.

Posted by: Vancouver Cyclist | 2006-02-11 7:16:46 AM

I think I've said this several times. If Emerson was interested solely in public service, he could resign his seat and Harper could appoint him deputy minister, a position in the bureacracy.
Emerson's been down this road before; he was, I believe, a bureaucrat - i'm not sure a dm - in the Bill Bennett government of the 1980s. I'm not sure he'd want to do it again. While the position would allow him to use his skills - and the pays not bad -- his influence on government would be limited to his particular file. And having stepped into the political arena, I don't imagine having to say yes minister to some seat-holder would be his idea of a honest work.
As to recruiting talent for the cabinet when you find your own party lacking, the answer is you do what Harper has done. again, for the record, there's nothing wrong or unprecedented about poaching cabinet ministers from the opposition benches. it's been done throughout history. Likewise, appointing someone to Senate to ge them ingto cabinet. Another option is a coalition government; in this case, given Harper's devolutionist plan, he could team up with the Bloc and the get a solid majority in favour of bleeding the federal government (for it's own good, of course).
All these option carry with them political consequences. In the case of the Emerson move (and the Fortier move), Harper has caused dissent in his own party and caucus and has appointed two cabinet ministers who can't be reassured of re-election. (Emerson can't win as a Tory in VanKingsway, despite anything Pia Shandel, who is a second-tier Vancouver radio talk show host, might say). You also surrender the high ground that you used to such effect in the campaign; the public now views Harper less as genial hockey dad who decided to run for PM after chatting with friends over cruller and coffee at Tim Hortons and more as the political animal he has been for most of his adult life.
In the case of a coalition with the Bloc, Harper would probably face a backlash in English Canada and would abandon his beachhead in Quebec.
Governing is hard. Harder than running a message-a-day election campaign against an government that was long in the tootht and that was dealt a body blow going in (gomery) and another mid-campaign (income trusts). And when the electorate, in its wisdom, grants you only a minority government, it's even harder. A blueprint isn't going to help.

As for the internet, the system as a whole may correct while individual nodes remain mired in misinformation. In my time here I have attempted to correct errors as I have found them, but I suspect my efforts are akin to someone whistling in a windstorm. Hands up who still believes Canada's Chief Justice is a Liberal hack (albeit one appointed and promoted by a Conservative) who told Parliament how to draft its marriage legislation?

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-11 8:04:27 AM

In reply to Vancouver Cyclist - no, I'm not suggesting that Emerson become a Deputy Minister. I'm asking HOW a gov't can get expertise in its governing capacities, when the elected representatives don't supply that particular expertise.

I've heard lots of sneers and suggestions from people, such as truewest (including the deputy minister suggestion and parachuting someone into a 'safe riding'- which I reject), but, I wonder how it could be done. I'm sure it wouldn't be possible to parachute someone into the civil service. The union, CUPE, would go beserk.

How is it done in other countries? If one assumes that a gov't wants expertise, then, how do they obtain it?

As for Emerson being elected again - remember, Stronach, who 'jumped', not to supply expertise but only to supply a body-count, was re-elected. I wonder why Emerson would want to run; his expertise shouldn't be subject to mob politics and the way the MSM have been treating him - that's the word for it.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-11 8:09:46 AM

Deputy Ministers in the Canadian government are
professional bureaucrats, usually promoted through the system. They answer to their Minister
and are under the administrative control of Treasury Board. Are DM's political? in same cases, yes, but the many I have dealt with and met over the past nearly forty years were certainly not, in the Federal sector that is. All
DM's in NS, NB and PEI are indeed political. It
was the late Dr. John Savage's refusal to replace
Tory appointed DM's in Nova Scotia which caused
his demise in the Liberal Party of NS, and his political career. But the Harper government in
particular needs high profile Ministers like
Dr Emmerson.

Posted by: Jack Macleod | 2006-02-11 8:13:10 AM

My god, truewest, your egoism knows no bounds. You inform us 'in my time here, I have attempted to correct errors as I have found them". What incredible overwhelming egoism.

I strongly suspect that you simply can't parachute a non-civil servant into the public service, without the union strongly objecting. There are such things as hiring procedures, seniority and etc, etc.

Why would Harper team up with the Bloc? Does it have the expertise he wanted; namely, Emerson and Fortier? And why would he, a decentralist and non-welfare state promoter, team up with the nanny-state socialist Bloc?

Ahh, your wisdom - "governing is hard". The wisdom.

A blueprint IS going to help. A government should not be run without one; otherwise, it is merely a windmill, reacting to the public 'whim of the day' (e.g., Martin's gov't)..with its only agenda To Stay In Power. That's not governance. A government absolutely requires a blueprint.

So- we here are, in your egoism, defined as a 'windstorm'. You, the only homo sapiens, are The Whistler. I'd suggest that you whistle off somewhere else, to a site more appreciative of the emptiness of your tune and the hollowness of your ego.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-11 8:22:20 AM

The Emerson fiasco underlines the superiority of the US system where the cabinet is not elected, it is selected on competence.

An example would the Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin or Larry Summers who were highly qualified even for Democrats (sarcasm):

Rubin, Robert Edward, 1938–, U.S. business executive and government official, b. New York City. A graduate of Harvard, he attended the London School of Economics before receiving his law degree from Yale in 1964. After briefly practicing law, Rubin joined (1966) the investment firm of Goldman, Sachs & Co., where he become (1971) a partner and eventually (1990–93) cochairman of the firm. During his tenure, Rubin worked to stabilize the value of the dollar. He held the post during a long boom, and some analysts credit his policies for the massive U.S. economic growth of the late 1990s. He resigned in 1999 and was succeeded by his deputy, Lawrence Summers. He later joined the Citigroup financial services company as a director and chairman of the executive committee. Rubin detailed his approaches to economics in his book In An Uncertain World (2003).

My point is, we are handicapped in Canada; we need high quality people in cabinet. Many of our best simply will not expose their families to the process required to get elected. I agree that “parachuting” is not the answer. Plus Deputy Ministers are not the answer as our Civil Service has to be bilingual so we only get Quebecers and most in our Civil Service have never worked in the real world like Robert Rubin did.

The fastest way to solve the problem is to outsource and shrink government involvement in our lives. Otherwise, we’ll stay on the path to mediocrity.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-02-11 8:51:32 AM

There's no pleasing you, is there. Let me put this another way, just so you can see that its not all about me. People here regularly post all sort of crap that is simply factually incorrect. I call them on it and post the correct information. By the terms of your earlier post, I'm part of the self-correcting mechanism of the internet. Now, I'm an egotist. GFY.
It is, however, beyond my power to fill the yawning chasm in your understanding of how our government works. You're on your own professor. Maybe you should try doing a little research.

BTW, there's absolutely no comparison between Emerson's chances of re-election and Stronach. Stronach actually increased her chances by running as a Liberal, since riding (and it predecessors) had gone that way since the late 1980s. Unless Emerson walks on water between now and the next election, he's toast. VanKingsway has elected a tory exactly once - in 1958

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-11 9:13:48 AM

No, truewest, egotists don't please me. You haven't provided ONE valid answer to my questions about 'How does one get expertise into a government in Canada'.

You state that people here 'regularly post all sort of crap that is simply factually incorrect'. And you, noble and wise, 'call them on it' and post the correct information. No, you don't. All that you do is mock, sneer and boast endlessly about yourself. That's egoism - and I don't have any respect for that - or for your profanity. Grow up.

What is egotistical about you, is not your corrections, but your constant self-praise, your constant informing us that we are 'all wrong' and that you, in your kindness, and compassion and superior wisdom, have taken it upon yourself to visit this site, and 'correct our errors'. Now that's how you are behaving as an egoist.

Please read what nomdenet wrote about the civil service. You can't, in contradiction to your Words of Superior Wisdom, simply parachute someone into the civil service. First, as I've pointed out, there's the infamous CUPE to deal with; they wouldn't like that. And second, as nomdenet points out, there's the insidious requirement for bilingualism, particularly in Deputy Ministers, who are in the majority, all francophone.

But, you, Who Know All, have informed us that yes, indeed, Emerson could have simply been made a Deputy Minister. Wrong. Now, you are doing your usual tactic which is to try to slough off your own errors onto others. Won't work.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-11 9:34:00 AM

Now that Turner's in government again, hide your grandmothers. He may try to sell them a "reverse mortgage" scheme.

I'm Garth Turner. Martha here made a smart decision to apply for a reverse mortgage to get payments for as long as she lives in her home. Congratulations Martha, please sign this twenty page document in these 75 places and we'll start sending cheques right away. No no, Martha, you don't need your spectacles - the fine print's not that important. Martha will get some money from the bank and the bank will confiscate her home after she dies. I'm Garth Turner for the reverse mortgage, and I'm leaving now before Martha's kids get wind of this. This has been the Turner Mortgage Minute.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-02-11 9:35:22 AM

Correcting your errors is only one of the reasons I drop by (although it does seem to be one of the most time-consuming reasons.) The others are many and various, but range from engaging measured exchanges with reasonable people (rare, but it's happened) and poking sticks through the bars at the exotic political animals resident here (hey, it's not all sacrifice).
BTW, nomendet didn't say the PM can't appoint a politician as a DM. he said it's not a good idea. And it's not. But we were talking about what was possible, not what was advisable.

And I'll say again, while Emerson's appointment was fishy, it was hardly unprecedented. Hope he does a good job -- and finishes quickly. Because his opportunity to do what he's supposed will not extend beyond the term of this minority government.
Indeed, his best option at this point might be to get up and say, "I entered politics to do a job I thought needed doing. Because of circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to finish the job I started under the previous administration. I hope to be able to do so now. But whatever happens, I will not run in the next federal election. When I entered public life, I thought I could do the job I set out to do and handle the political end of things. If the uproar over my crossing the floor has taught me anything, it's that politics are not my strong suit. I apologize to the voters of Vancouver Kingway who feel betrayed by my move to the CPC, but if I have to choose between my political future and finishing the job I started, the choice for me is clear."

Then, just before the government falls, Harper can appoint him to the Senate.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-11 10:41:27 AM

Actually, my comment re parachuting referred to getting star candidates into safe ridings and elected easily. I think they should run in or near their home riding like everyone else.

As to a politician, having a DM appointment? It’s so rare as to not be a meaningful discussion.

We need more Emersons. But it won’t happen. Successful Business people will continue to avoid the election process like the plague. That won’t keep the mediocre like Garth Turner from trying to get elected. Our system worked during an agricultural age, successful farmers could leave the farm to their families to run. It started to break down during the Industrial age. Now it’s broken in a knowledge based economy. A lot of our MPs don’t know what the knowledge based economy is. Essentially, we’re taxing money away from success and giving it to the mediocrity to spend. The government is now 42% of our economy. The Liberals and NDP even want to look after our kids. The set-up is a recipe for disaster.

We need to shrink government, outsource etc. Canada has a shortage of talent at the CEO level too. But there, a Board of Directors would insist that the CEO never let his/her duties outstrip their competence. Parts of the company get sold , spun-off from time to time so the company stays focused on the future. With government, the owner/taxpayers don’t think like a Board of Directors, they just let the government grow and and keep adding, nothing gets spun-off, until conservatives get elected. Therefore, we now find ourselves in a place where we don’t have the competence to manage the unwieldy giant of government. In his previous incarnation, Garth Turner even suggested people mortgage their houses and put the money with him. Sheer greed and incompetence, now’s he’s an MP whining because he’s not a cabinet minister and jealous of Emerson. Scary.

I hope Harper is able to say to Laureen in a couple of years:
“Honey I Shrunk the Government”.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-02-11 11:44:40 AM

Sorry didn't mean to misrepresent your position. I see, though, that you advocate the American solution: an appointed cabinet. I presume you're not advocating this as a piecemeal measure, but rather as part of a process whereby Canada would be come a republic, with the executive elected chosen by a different process - or different vote -- than the legislature, with the resulting checks and balances.
Which, of course, we could do with a few minor amendments to the constitution.

Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-11 12:04:24 PM

Truewest, as you know they aren’t “minor”. Therefore we aren’t going to become a republic fast enough, even if there was the will to do so.

So failing the appointed competence solution in the US, we have only one option, shrink Ottawa and decentralize to the provinces where we can still find some competence commensurate with the scope of accountabilities of a Province. Blair did it with Scotland. Nobody noticed yet everybody seems more content. Let’s get on with devolution here ASAP.

Posted by: nomdenet | 2006-02-11 12:56:57 PM

screw all you guys. I voted for Garth to represent me. I voted for him in spite of the "conservative" party, and so did many others. Garth is paid to represent me, not to kiss harper's ass, which is what all of you nutjobs can go do. and if you'll take the time to actually read his blog back before all you wingnuts started whining, you'll see he never had cabinet aspirations. you're all a bunch of assholes. i knew the conservatives could never get through a year without showing themselves to be paranoid and controlling - you'll be back on
the opposition benches soon boys.

Posted by: mike | 2006-02-11 4:20:44 PM

hey mike, before you screw anyone of us nutjobs (who let you in anyway) your email address appears a little suspicious, and looks like you must live in Texas (an ex-pat perhaps, or using a phoney email). Hmm, when I think of Texas I think of Ted Nugent --- that's where he lives also. Now Ted's ultra-blue conservative, and maybe you ought to take a couple lessons from him (see http://www.tnugent.com/) maybe you can moderate and simmer down a little, like one of these people:
"I was fortunate enough to see Ted in 1998 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I still can't hear anything! I actually felt the Spirit there. That night really changed me. I stopped smoking and drinking and paid more attention to the sights and sounds of nature." --Stephanie Olson, Hudsonville, MI

"I would like Ted to know how proud I am to be a fan of his--the positive example he sets makes me realize there are people who use their position and 'power' in a good way." --Angela Mason

Posted by: TWestCGY | 2006-02-11 10:58:55 PM

Word Mike!

And why are you not all up in arms about Myron Thompson's dissention???? Pickin' on the Ontarian is easy for you, but you dare not cannabalize Wild Rose!

Harper fuqed up large with the appointments he made and should fix, admit to, or at least defend his mistakes.

Posted by: Jarvis | 2006-02-11 11:25:29 PM

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