Entries from December 2006 ↓

Strangely undead.

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No shock, surely, to hear me say I can’t wait for 2006 to end. I’ve met more mean-spirited people in one 12-month period than in my entire life. I’ve suffered more disappointment in a year than in decades. Never before, so much belittling, bullying and conflict, as in 2006. It sucked. Totally.

And while many people have end-of-the-year nostalgia and reflect on their accomplishments on this day, not here. My year started in triumphant expectations and end up on the rocks of deceit, intolerance and exclusion. As it turned out, I discovered public life may be no place anymore for somebody who values principles over party, refuses to lie to voters, or won’t break a promise. This year I suffered the greatest dishonouring in my life, and was attacked by the most powerful man in the country.

Colleagues I trusted – powerful men in high positions – let me down, while lesser people never left an insult unsaid or a criticism unspoken. As a result, I could count on the fingers of one hand the days I spent in Ottawa in 2006 that felt worthwhile. I invested almost a year of my life and a chunk of wealth becoming an MP, getting to that city and throwing myself into my work. I did it for what I felt were the right reasons and with a self-made promise not to compromise from my ethics. But it took less than a week to blow up.

Ten weeks ago they threw me out of the party I had been in my entire life, and for a reason that was patently false. I’ve now been barred from running again as a Conservative, either in my home community, or anywhere. My party is now organizing to defeat me – and with money my own last campaign raised. If these circumstances were normal, this would be the end of a political career. The government, the prime minister, the finance minister, the backroom boys – they have all put time, energy and resources into removing me from the national stage. This should be it. Finished.

But these times are not normal, and neither am I.

It may sound like I’m bitter and angry and will be out to effect revenge, if at all possible, giving as I got. But, ain’t going to happen. On the contrary, it’s clear to me that Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty, and backroom boys like Doug Finley and Ian Brodie are dedicated and intelligent professionals working non-stop to achieve what they think are worthy goals. At the end of their time, Canada will be a better country.

Nobody has the corner on moral behaviour or the answer to all our challenges. Conservatives, Liberals, socialists, separatists – all just people in public life because they are driven to it. God knows getting into the House of Commons takes sacrifice upon sacrifice, so everyone there is precious.

But the act of achieving public office is not synonymous with honouring it. There are things that matter more to our country than the pursuit of personal influence and power, than the aggrandizement of a party, or even winning. Some of the most principled people in our national life never sat in the prime minister’s chair, Tommy Douglas, Robert Stanfield, Ellen Fairclough or Ed Broadbent. And yet we remember them more than some of our chief executives.

Without a doubt, those who gave me a rotten year now count me out. Maybe they’re right. Perhaps it will be impossible to win election again, with these forces stacked against me. Maybe I was utterly naive and pointless in making a stand against floor-crossing MPs, or spineless environmental policy, or the muzzing of MPs, or broken election promises or the growing influence of religion in politics. Because, when I did, I was no longer a “team player”? The team turned against me.

However, I believe in a greater team, and in it I’m placing my faith. That team’s made up of countless voters who want to be independently represented, with their voices heard and their hopes expressed daily. That team knows democracy can be messy and noisy at times, that debate is absolutely critical, that not everyone can possibly agree on everything and that the people we choose to represent us can only do so by putting their fellow citizens first and their ambitions, and parties, second.

So, no white flag here. Not done, strangely undead.

Care to help?

The plan

hill3.jpg A visitor asks the following question today in light of the post I made here yesterday on Halton politics:

Garth how come you are not running for the nomination in your own riding? If this other guy is as bad as you say the best way to stop him from running is if you win the nomination battle. Have you been officially kicked out of the Conservative Party of Canada and barred from doing so?

To recap, I was suspended from the caucus of Stephen Harper on October 19th, 2006, allegedly for breaking caucus confidentiality. I did not, of course, as the book which will be published in March will clearly reveal. Enough said on that.

Subsequently the National Committee of the Conservative Party, whose membership is secret and whose meetings are held in secret and whose decisions cannot be appealed save by another party committee, decided

(1) that the Conservative nomination I’d won eight weeks before for the coming election would be disqualified and,

(2) that I would be barred from running again for the Conservative Party. Anywhere.

This was, I felt, an extreme position for a person who has been a two-time MP, a Tory cabinet minister and who once ran as a candidate in a national leadership campaign. But, there you go. A good example of how Big Party politics and the backroomers who control it have trampled local democracy and ended up telling voters who may, or may not, represent them.

But this is old news. You can read more here.

Going forward, some new guy will be nominated to run in Halton for the Conservatives, and I will campaign as an Independent, unless something unforeseen transpires. I will win the riding, sit once again as an MP, force reform of the system, break the stranglehold of machine politics, allow the sunshine of democracy to stream back into the process and free my people.

At least, that’s the theory. Care to help?

Local politics!

champion-logo.jpg As one might expect, Halton is a seething cauldron of political activity right now. The Conservatives are about to enter into a nomiantion process to pick some poor guy who I will obliterate in the coming election, and that process will be dominated by breast-thumping yodels on who can be a “better” Stephen Harper Conservative than I was (not too hard, it seems).

Last week one of the contenders, Rick Malboeuf, wrote the local papers claiming that because the current Halton MP is an indepedendent thinker, and no longer part of the Tory caucus, the government will surely starve this riding of 160,000 people of all federal funding. It’s part of the mythical thinking that an MP sitting in a government caucus means more than one in another caucus, or an Indie like me. Having had experience on both sides, I know the truth, unlike Malbouef. But, hey, let me share with you the view of another local voter, whose words were published this morning…

Malbouef’s views confounding…
Canadian Milton Champion, December 29, 2006

So Rick Malboeuf, our very own real-life Flem Snopes (Oh, go look it up, Mr. Malboeuf), believes the Conservatives will punish thousands of people in Halton as a way to get at MP Garth Turner.
Think about this, folks. This is how Malboeuf thinks. This is how he believes government works, as if we were all something right out of a William Faulkner novel.

It’s dumbfounding that a political hopeful like Malboeuf would even commit this to writing.

Just so no one misses the point, as if we didn’t know, let’s suppose that Malboeuf magically woke up in Stephen Harper’s Gucci loafers, with this same Turner problem.

I think Malboeuf has essentially declared that he himself would feel justified to withhold fair funding from a riding just because its duly elected representative’s proboscis refused to stain the proper shade of umber.

Given that Malboeuf could actually say what he did, I have to question whether he has the ability to think this through. Do you, Mr. Malboeuf?

If you have any hopes of winning the nod to run as the Conservative candidate in the next federal election — now there’s an understatement — let’s make this a little test of your eligibility, shall we?

Specifically, how artfully could you explain how you didn’t really mean that people should be punished when their elected representative merely stands up for convictions not fully in accord with his party’s leader?

And while you’re at it, since you’re obviously making ‘infrastructure’ your personal big deal, how about explaining how your favourite form of it might be a gallow in every prison, if not in the public square?

I’ve been a lifelong Liberal, but I believe Turner has stood up for himself and for Halton in a very big way. The only question that remains is whether Halton will stand up for him in the next election. I will.

He’s a man with integrity and courage. That’s exactly what we need in Ottawa now and, I believe, a forerunner of a welcome future trend in Canadian politics.

RICHARD H.
HOLLY AVENUE, MILTON ONT.