I don’t think it came as a surprise to anyone yesterday when Garth Turner changed his suit and joined the Liberal Party. Still, he does know how to put on a show.
There is a lot of righteous indignation being expressed in the op-ed pages and the blogs today, mostly from Conservatives who consider Turner a traitor of the worst kind. There is also a fair bit of criticism from Liberals over the hypocrisy of this move after his condemnation of other defections. His claim is that he isn’t actually switching parties because he wasn’t actually a member of any party when he did it, but that’s obviously just semantics.
I like Garth Turner. I like that he speaks his mind, regardless of the consequences. I like that he embraced blogging before most politicians even knew what a blog was. I even like his blatant self-aggrandizement - it shows an almost charming lack of guile.
I disagree with him on a great number of issues, but the disagreements are mostly in the areas of economics and the military. Not surprisingly, these are the areas where I have always disagreed with the Conservatives, back when they were still the Progressive Conservative Party. And this is why I have less of a problem with Turner’s defection than most.
Turner is a Progressive Conservative to the core. So is my dad, so I recognize the breed. Twenty years ago there wasn’t such a huge gap between the PCs and the Liberals, so switching from one to another wasn’t such a big deal.
Then the Alliance happened, and we were suddenly left with a changeling. It called itself the Conservative Party of Canada. It had blue signs. It even had a few PCs among its membership, but a closer examination would reveal that this new party was really just Reform in a blue suit, complete with Republican-style economics and social policies penned by the Religious Right.
What this meant for old school PCs like Garth Turner was that they were left without a party. Their old middle-right party had suddenly moved so far to the extreme right that the closest party to their old PC position was now… the Liberals.
So yes, I understand why Turner would see his move as no great leap. I’m still not sure if I agree with him enough to want to vote for him, but if he’s going to be our Liberal candidate I guess I’ll have to. And that’s ok. At least he keeps things interesting.