Sunday, October 22, 2006

Politics: Canada: Frmr Conserv Finance Min booted from Harper's govt, may join Greens in break-thru move

Toronto Star reporters, Richard Brennan and Susan Delacourt, "Ousted Turner considers future with Green Party" (Oct20,2k6) follow up on recent Parliamentary developments where the Conservatives, the minority-govt party, ousted from their caucus the loose-lipped former Finance Minister, Garth Turner.

Turner had served in the cabinet of the previous Progressive Conservative Party which was brawt down to 2 members under Janet Campbell, allowing the Liberals to return to power for the next 20 yrs it would seem. The corrupt Lib govt under Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien (majority govts) and Paul Martin (minority govt) provided the season when former Finance Minister Turner began selling finance-seminar participation events on TV widely in Canada, creating his own entrepreneurial brand for the purpose. In the most recent January election in Canada for seats in the House of Commons, Garth Turner returned to the fray and, winning his seat, took his place in the newly-merged Conservative Party of Canada (uniting the PregConservs under Peter Mackay with the Reform > Canadian Alliance forces under Stephen Harper). Turner, however, was restless, and could not follow party discipline regarding confidentiality. He blabbed. He was booted from caucus. Now, he's an independent, and stunningly is negotiating with his friend Elizabeth Mays, leader of the Green Party of Canada (which has not yet one any specific riding to place a member in Parliament, but has one sufficient votes to win at least one, if not two, were a system of proporational representation in place in Canada. Canada follows the faux-democratic system of first-past-the-post to win a seat as representative, tho the Green Party percentage of votes nationally really does belong in the House, the fifth party.

Thus, it makes complete sense on some levels that Garth Turner is negotiating with his friend Elizabeth Mays to represent the Green Party in the Commons. The move would be history-making, tho not system-shattering. Turner, however, would probably not be able to conform to the Green Party platform. It is, as of this summer's convention in Toronto (where Mays was elected leader), a fiercely anti-war party. This new development in the greenery was what forced Jack Layton of the New Democrat Party to swing his party in its later convention in a suddenly-storng anti-war direction, which pleased a good number of NDP activists who like Layton recognized that the Greens in the next election could drain away votes from the NDP, which till then had paid lip-service to the anti-war position but was otherwise rather listless on the issue. (At the same time, the NDP is beefing up its classwar and anti-business rhetoric, a fact that recently moved former NDP candidate and economist Paul Summerville to bolt to the Libs. The NDP motive here toward revamping the classwar anti-biz rhetoric, is to try to regain the disaffected labour votes it has alienated by kicking out of its membership the Canadian AutoWorkers prex Buzz Hardgrove. The CAW leaders sin was to advise his members and other voters to vote NDP only in ridings where the party had a chance of winning. No spoiling a Lib win in ridings where the Conservs were strong and the NDP an unwinnable third. Now, CAW will not be supporting the NDP, since it was viewed as too yuppie and too anti-socialist, to which add now anti-war. Union-members have sons dieing in Afghanistan.)

Back to the possible Mays-Turner alliance. Mays has to allow Turner to speak his mind, as he will, however unpredictably, however short of the Green platform. What does Mays gain in return for her Greens? They would get a nominal Green in Parliament until the next election; but also, now being represented in Parliament, the Greens would be able to field Mays as a fifth person in the Party Leaders Debates on TV in the coming national election. (On that matter, yesterday Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québecois, has just made the first announcement of intention to call for a vote of confidence ostensibly to bring down the Conserv minority govt. This too is another faux call, since the Libs cannot approve a no-confidence vote until after they have conculded their own inner-party vote at a convention in December. Without the Libs, the united NDP and BQ cannot win a no-confidence vote to bring down the govt. The reason for the call, however faux, is neverthless interesting: the BQ wants to defeat the Conserv's proposed legislation on clean-air which is out of line with the Kyoto Protocols to which Canada is signatory and which is storngly supported in Québec, the idea being to whittle away Québec votes that had shifted to the Conserves from the Libs. The BQ wants those votes for itself, and this is a moment to make a try to get a certain percentage of them.)

North America > Canada

In effect, the coming election is already in the air, tho the Libs haven't held their convetion yet. Meantime, the Greens may have time to slip into Parliament as a result of the Turner fiasco, and to get their spokesperson into the field of what would be a five Party Leaders series of debates in English and French on national TV.

While Conservative MP Garth Turner was assessing his prospects yesterday, others were saying his expulsion from caucus is further evidence of Stephen Harper government's increasing isolation.

Turner, who got kicked out of the Conservative caucus Wednesday for his outspoken style and for breaking caucus confidentiality, told reporters he will speak to anybody about his political future, including the Green Party.

"I am happy to talk to anybody right now," said Turner, a former Progressive Conservative revenue minister, who will initially sit as an independent.

Turner said public response from Halton constituents to his expulsion "has been nothing short of unbelievable ... and in the main they are supportive."

He plans to find out what constituents want him to do in town hall meetings this weekend.

Constituent Peter Haight, who is running for a Milton council seat, spoke of his fear the Conservative government is isolating itself from the people who put them there. "If a government can't listen to diverse opinion, it's no longer a democracy," he said. "Why should the MPs be expected to toe the line? This attitude is making (Harper) more remote."

Turner repeated his suspicion that his ousting was orchestrated by the Prime Minister's office. "The Prime Minister likes to be in control ... (but) I think any leader who is too rigid will end up with some problems."

Haight said he voted for Turner because his first allegiance is to constituents, not the Prime Minister or the party, and would vote for him again, even if he runs for the Green Party.

Turner and Green Party leader Elizabeth May have begun talks that could lead to Canada's first Green MP.

For Turner, it would mean a large platform in a Commons dominated by the environment issue. For the Greens, it would be a "tremendous" boost in visibility and relevance, May said. "In the Green Party of Canada, none of our members of Parliament will ever have to check their brains at the door."

"It certainly would change the dynamics of federal politics," Turner said. "That's why it is a very important decision for me to contemplate."

Pat Whyte, president of the Halton Conservative riding association, said every attempt will be made to get Turner back into the Tory tent. If unsuccessful, the association will have to find a new candidate to run in the next federal election.
Hopefully, all the shuffling and manoeuvring will neither cripple the minority govt nor diminish the trend toward greater pluralism in Canada's flawed democratic system, a trend which should result in proportional representation. -- Owlb

Further Research:

Garth and the Greens
Garth Turner invited to join Liberals
Paul Summerville, NDPer & economist, joins Liberals

No comments: