Garth Turner campaign steps on a landmine
Back in the day, the Hon. Garth Turner was a very successful public speaker, and an author of books providing investment advice suitable for Joe and Jill Retail. At some point, he wanted to dive into politics, assuming that the interest he garnered in his speeches to investment conferences could be transformed into support at the polls. When then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was looking for candidates, Mr. Turner agreed to run in the Free Trade Election of 1988. Mr. Turner fit the bill.
As a Tory caucus member in the early 90s, Mr. Turner was always kicking against the stalls. Given his fierce independent streak, this didn’t come as a surprise. When he crossed the floor and joined the Liberal Party in 2006, that DID come as a surprise, given his original position in the Free Trade debate, and his overall “less government is better” mentality.
He won the Halton riding in 2006 as a Conservative, and is now trying to keep it as a Liberal. That got a bit tougher a few days ago, when the CPAC Network sent a television crew on one of Mr. Turner’s door-knocking outings.
The controversy began when CPAC was told by Turner campaign manager to show up at a certain address at a certain time, where they’d meet up with Mr. Turner and get the chance to charge along for a while. The first door was quite friendly, and the occupant seemed to be quite supportive of Mr. Turner, despite the fact that he had changed political teams (and economic philosophies, apparently).
Once CPAC ran the video, a viewer noticed something odd about that first doorstep. Wasn’t that the son of Mr. Turner’s campaign manager? Naturally, CPAC went ballistic, and have made it clear to all and sundry that at no time did anyone associated with the Turner campaign let on that they were being set up. Before or after.
Turner’s campaign team wobbles on this, and it is worth hearing their side of the story on this video clip — as there really isn’t much to hear. But hearing firsthand that there isn’t anything to hear is worth hearing, if you know what I mean. For Mr. Turner, his on-air response to CPAC speaks volumes:
“I don’t want to make a federal case out of it.”
Truer words were never spoken. But for a politician who made his name and career on “straight talk”, this could be the death knell.
If you have any interest in politics or the media, take the time to watch the clip. The metaphors will flow. You’ll think of the Roman Coliseum, when the lions tore into their prey. Or perhaps a cat on a hot tin roof. A train wreck in slow motion. An ice cube on a hot skillet.
You get the idea.
UPDATE: Mr. Turner is now taking on the CBC as well. See the 10:41am comment by Susan Ormiston of the CBC News on Mr. Turner’s website.
(disclosure – one of Mr. Turner’s opponents is Lisa Raitt, who is currently on leave from the Toronto Port Authority; I’m on the board)