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Sunday, October 29, 2006 

Harper Runs Caucus With Iron Fisted Style

Greg Felton has a great interview with former Tory MP Garth Turner at www.gregfelton.com. The resulting article gives insight into the workings of the federal Conservative Caucus room and the iron fisted, 'no debates allowed' style of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The World According to Garth
On Oct. 18, Garth Turner, MP for the Ontario riding of Halton, was expelled from the Harper Party for having expressed an opinion on a matter of policy.
In an interview, Mr. Turner explains his ouster as a product of Stephen Harper’s secretive, autocratic regime, under which an elected MP needs permission to ask a question, debate or even represent his constituents.
Oct. 28, 2006

"The reality is that prime minister wants to control things very tightly. He has pretty much an iron grip on everything, and it causes problems for guys like me. I don’t think I work for the prime minister; I think I work for my voters, the people who sent me to Ottawa."
Garth Turner

"National caucus is not a place for debate. In fact, in my time during the national caucus I never saw a free-wheeling debate on policy. During the Israeli–Lebanon conflict we did not have a policy debate. An attempt was made to have one during the summer at a caucus meeting, but it was shut down."
Garth Turner


That said, who is running the show? Garth must know this. So is it Harper, along with backstage boys? Who? How about what business interests, such as NACC? This actually frightens me, as if there is only one or a select few, this is not democracy.

That said, who is running the show?

Harper and the TheoCons - read it.

What I find astonishing is the degree of near pathological conformity that the current CPoC crew seems to demand of its membership.

For a group that built the party up on "grassroots" democracy, they seem to have done a 180 degree turnabout since.


I'm not sure I quite believe that no policy debates take place within caucus, and that it is simply a FYI session where Harper's personal preferences are taught in lecture format, and talking points are provided (no talking allowed!)

Ever read the book Governing from the Centre? We all act like previous prime ministers allowed free-wheeling descent away from their own personal positions, and that Harper is some sort of Stalinist aberration. Harper didn't exactly invent the technique.

Olaf - there's a world of difference between the controlled dissent that is normal in caucus relations and the enforced conformity that is becoming all to apparent in the CPoC caucus.

Perhaps the best example of that comes not out of Turner being tossed, but rather from the utter silence of MPs to anything that challenges official party dogma. (MPs like Jason Kenney do NOT respond to anything but "flattering" communication that reinforces their positions)

It's painfully obvious that Harper's orders to caucus as a whole are to "keep it zippered" - and that goes as far as not even acknowledging communication from constituents if it's deemed "politically inconvenient" to do so.

I had far better "responsiveness" from Liberal cabinet ministers in the past than I've had out of bipedal bales of hay like Kenney.

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