Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Another Conservative double standard

Conservative bloggers are fond of criticizing Jack Layton for "turfing" Bev Desjarlais from caucus once upon a time. Never mind that it's not actually true (he actually demoted her to the back bench for voting against equal marriage, and she later quit the party all on her own), they still go on about it ad nauseum, repeating the misinformation at every possible opportunity. Some even claim that Layton was in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Now that Harper has booted Garth Turner from his own caucus (actually booted, now, not just demoted to the back bench...where he incidentally had already resided) for criticizing his party and his dear leader, though, I wonder what all these Tory freedom fighters will have to say for themselves?

[Update: While he wasn't interested in commenting on the original post over here, Stephen Taylor has criticized this post elsewhere for being untrue. Stephen claims the following:

First, Desjarlais was turfed out by her local riding members in a nomination battle.

Second, Harper didn't toss Garth to the curb, Ontario caucus did.
In response I can only say this: Desjarlais wasn't removed from the party by her riding association--riding associations don't have that power. She quit the party of her own accord, as indicated in the link above, and now works for a Conservative cabinet minister. And the original idea to throw Turner out may have come from the Ontario caucus, but the vote was subsequently endorsed by the overall caucus:
The general caucus endorsed the unanimous vote to suspend Turner based on what some have called indiscretions on his weblog, including breaches of caucus secrecy and criticism of his government and the prime minister.
That level of spin is pretty impressive, though, Stephen--it'll probably actually fool a few people. My hat's off to you.]


James Bow said...

Did Dejarlais quit the party, or did she lose the riding nomination? Other than that, your point stands.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Both, actually. She quit the party only after losing her riding's nomination. She now works for a Conservative cabinet minister.

wayward son said...

Come on idealistic, these two incidents have nothing in common.

The NDP was completely in the wrong for their treatment of Bev. The woman was standing up for the rights of religious fundamentalists to impose their far superior belief system on everyone else. I expect that she will be made a saint after she dies for trying to protect us from the evils of allowing bad people to enjoy the same rights and privledges as good people.

Now when it comes to the Turner affair, well the Conservatives are right. How could anyone expect the party to put up with someone criticizing dear leader Kim Jong Harper? If anything the party was far two lenient - the should have put his head on a spike to warn all the evil doers against speaking out.

Mike said...

Wayward captures the Reformer's logic to a tee...

Olaf said...


I'm a conservative blogger, and I roasted the Conservatives on this one. I think it was not only wrong, but stupid politically, making Harper look even more like an authoritarian, even if he had nothing to do with it.

Josh Gould said...

How could Harper have nothing to do with it? That's what I don't get. Either he's completely out of touch with his caucus or he's being disingenuous. And what's this about *caucus* confidentiality? Since when are MPs supposed to keep their debates and their opinions secret?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Look how you rock for being consistent! *grin*

I actually don't know enough to know whether he should have been booted--did he go against an established party rule that he had agreed to, or was the rule made up on the fly? That's still unclear to me. If he didn't go against a rule that he'd agreed to, though, then there's something pretty gross about expelling him.


Excellent point about "violating caucus confidentiality." That's certainly not part of the parliamentary tradition I'm familiar with. And if it's a CPC rule, it's certainly not one they publicize.

Jan_ from_ BruceCounty said...

you dont really belief the Con spin that Harper didnt know about this. Come on, he is the biggest control freak MP going, where all press releases and speaking engagements by his cabinet and sitting members must be OKED by him. Now he is treating his supporters as idiots. Oh yeh, poor old stevie harper out of the loop.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Yes, and as everyone's been reporting, the caucus vote to oust him was unanimous. Harper is a member of the caucus. QED.

Josh Gould said...

It wasn't even a matter of violating some explicit matter of confidentiality, but the "theme" of confidentiality. If you will permit, WTF?

Check this out, IP. Nothing there suggests any breach of confidentiality - Turner's comments about caucus meetings are nothing more than generalities. Otherwise, Turner's main offence seems to have been speaking honestly about his opinions and having none of the Dear Leader's personality cult or his acolytes. He even seems to have the audacity to believe that the PM is simply primus inter pares rather than his Overlord.

I can see the need (or at least the desire) for keeping party strategy or internal squabbling out of the limelight, but CTV at least hasn't identified anything particularly explosive.

Olaf said...


I didn't say that Harper didn't know about it at all... I said even if (I even emphasized the if) he had nothing to do with it. I do not for a second think he didn't know it was coming, but I do entertain the possibility that he didn't have anything to do with it, which is to say that it wasn't his idea in the first place, and just went along with it.

And I do "rock". But not for consistency... I didn't even know about the Dejarlais incident, and as such had nothing to say about it, and as such had nothing to be consistent with. But IP, you just made my manipulated blogger endorsements list. Congrats! I'm gonna make it look like you said "Olaf, you rock".

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I actually meant that your pro-Turner position was consistent with your overall position that freedom of speech is important. But if you think having an endorsement from Jane Random NDP blogger is going to make you look good in the circles you travel in, by all means, manipulate away!

Deanna said...

To their credit, a lot of Conservative supporters are actually quite upset about this.

Noel M said...

If you look at the Google "cached" version of Garth's weblog, you can see that one of his last postings was a discussion about the budget. In the post he highlighted some of the "proposals" likely to be contained in it.

I believe that this is the reason why he was turfed.

Lone Primate said...

How could Harper have nothing to do with it?

Yeah, that's rubbish. We're talking about a party where no one in caucus has gone to the bathroom for eight months now because they haven't been given permission from the PMO to ask.

Stephen Taylor said...

I said before,

"First, Desjarlais was turfed out by her local riding members in a nomination battle.

Second, Harper didn't toss Garth to the curb, Ontario caucus did."

Desjarlais was turfed out via nomination battle wasn't she?

Wikipedia says "She represented Churchill in the Canadian House of Commons from 1997 to 2006, initially as a New Democrat and later as an Independent after losing her party nomination in late 2005."

I think that's straight forward, the powers that be in her riding (ie. the members I presume) stripped her of her NDP nomination and status no?

"Second, Harper didn't toss Garth to the curb, Ontario caucus did."

The story that we've all heard was that the PMO (ie. Harper) didn't know until it happened (you can, of course, suspect differently). Ontario caucus is the group which tossed Garth as a Conservative MP.

I don't see where I've spun, perhaps you can help?

Stephen Taylor said...

Just checked OC's comments again...

I can see where you might perceive some spinning.

You may have understood "riding association" to mean the NDP local officials in her riding instead of "riding constituents".

I suppose I should have clarified, when I said "riding association", I meant the association of local members in her riding, not just the board. My fault if I should have made that clear.

I consider our local "riding association" to have hundreds of members.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Desjarlais was not ejected from the party through the nomination battle. The NDP members in her riding chose someone else to run for the nomination, and the day after that, she chose of her own accord to quit the party. Lots of people lose nomination battles and don't quit the party entirely. It happens all the time. Desjarlais, on the other hand, turned in her party membership card and went to work for a Conservative cabinet minister. Now, that's certainly her right as a voluntarily free agent, but saying either that Jack Layton threw her out of the party or that her riding association did is one hundred percent incorrect.

As for what happened to Turner, yeah, I do believe that Harper knew (Harper knows about everything that goes on in his government!), but that's not really the point. The point is that the entire federal caucus agreed with the Ontario caucus's decision. That's not speculation, that's been reported all over the place (and, in fact, is quoted in the addendum to this post).

Like I said earlier in comments to Olaf, I actually don't have enough information to determine whether turfing Turner was ethical or not. My take: if the Conservatives had a party rule that Turner had agreed to before becoming an MP (as had been the case with Desjarlais and the NDP, incidentally), then the party was fully within their rights to throw him out. But a) it's not clear that that was the case--it looks an awful lot like they were making up rules on the fly, which is not cool, and b) even if it within their rights, it was still a really, really bad idea. And taking a bad idea and trying to make it sound like a good one is the very definition of spin.

Stephen Taylor said...

IP, I suppose I know about as much as you do re: Turner and I think we may be splitting hairs on Desjarlais.

Desjarlais was rejected by her constit members, she quit on her own... ok.

Interestingly enough, I believe that Garth is still able to run for nomination of the CPC in Halton (he still retains nomination status for the CPC in Halton). He's just not welcome in caucus. There are indeed a few blurry definitions here.

I enjoyed this debate though. Keep up the good work.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Garth is now claiming that he's been told he doesn't have permission to run as a Conservative in the next election. He apparently has a letter indicating this, so he's not talking through his hat. Since when does the federal party control what goes on at the riding association level? With Desjarlais, the membership was given a chance to decide. Weak, weak, weak.