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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Did Garth Turner believe he was somewhere over the rainbow?

That day in 2006 when former Tory MP Garth Turner was elected to parliament, was he, I wonder, instantly transported to the magical land of Oz? Or perhaps he fell down a rabbit-hole into Alice’s wonderland?

The problem is, blogging doesn't work well with party politics. Caucuses don’t want their debates, disagreements and strategies broadcast to the opposition. [Garth] Turner understands this but ignores it. In his view, the problem’s not his, but his tormentors’.

- National Post

I prefer to believe the former, though strong arguments can be made in support of the latter scenario. Both would explain why Mr. Turner found it bewildering that he was booted out of the conservative caucus.

There is a third possibility: Xurbia, a figment Garth’s imagination that he describes as being “anywhere, and nowhere.”

In his fantasy world, a backbench MP can freely criticize his leader and other fellow caucus members in a public blog. Garth’s is a world in which a multi-term MP and former cabinet minister can be so naive that he blogs away about whatever enters his mind, including questioning the principles of his boss and wanting to point out when the party said one thing before forming a government, and was doing something different after it gained power. Even more appalling to him is the idea that, in his world, a political party would want to play tricks on opponents, or to manipulate the press.

Apparently, the fantasy elements of his life have found their way into his new book, Sheeple: Caucus Confidential in Stephen Harper’s Ottawa.

Stuart Woods reports at Quill & Quire that Garth’s book “was set to go on sale last Friday, but an allegation of defamation made by The Canadian Press forced publisher Key Porter Books to delay the release.”

In a passage in his new book, Garth reportedly:

…questions the accuracy of a Canadian Press report from 2006, in which the Tory caucus was said to have given Prime Minister Stephen Harper a standing ovation for remarks made at a behind-closed-doors meeting. According to Turner, the standing ovation never happened, and he goes on to write that a CP bureau chief told him that ‘information of this kind is never verified [by CP], never confirmed, because of the inherent difficulty in doing so’.


Oops! Publisher, Key Porter Books, has since agreed to a clarification that they will paste it on the inside cover of all copies of the book. In the clarification, Turner reportedly accepts that “all Canadian Press stories that use anonymous sources are double-sourced and cleared for publication.” And, apparently, other meā culpā can be found in the “clarification.”

Does that line that runs between fact and fiction become blurred elsewhere in the book, I wonder?

Poor Garth Turner. Could it be that he was looking in a mirror when he suggested—as Kelly McParland of the National Post tells us—that “Albertans were a bunch of ‘hostile, me-first, greedy, macho, selfish’ losers, just like Quebec separatists?” Was Garth, perhaps, painting a self-portrait with those cruel words?

3 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Garth Turner in my humble opinion is a megalomaniac who's only loyalty and concern is Garth Turner. Qu'el surprise.

    He reminds me as a spoiled rotten child who refuses to be accountable for his actions and who will inflict a temper tantrum on all who are around him if he is not the center of attention.

    The Liberals have latched on to him because his big mouth will be perceived to take the Conservatives down a fraction of a notch. The day they don't need him he will be road kill as Count Ignatieff will not tolerate dissension in his party.


  2. Frankly, Anon, I doubt the Grits want him anymore.