Sunday, February 19, 2006

Garth Turner Gets Nice Office Despite Criticism of Cabinet Appointments

This is a good sign.

Tory MP Garth Turner, who openly criticized the government's appointment of turncoat David Emerson and unelected Michael Fortier to Cabinet and was rebuked, nevertheless apparently hasn't been punished.

Yes, this is good. Mr. Harper, despite his very duly questionable first week appointments, doesn't seem to have doled out any punishment other than the voicing of disapproval of the public criticism from within by Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner gets a very nice office on the top floor rather than the "converted-crapper" one in the basement he figured he'd end up with.

I must say that this is a good sign. Dissent, while not impervious to being frowned upon, is still tolerated. Contrast this to Liberal practice in which one can be expelled from caucus for speaking out against one's own party. I remember John Nunziata and Carolyn Parrish very well.

Freedom of expression continues in the Conservative Party, it seems.

Being in government apparently means sometimes doing unpopular things. The measure of whether it is a good government is partly determined by its openness and ability to take criticism.

In the future, either in this term or in the next one if a majority is needed, I'd like to see the Tories bring in laws restricting certain types of appointments. If not banning them outright, in cases like the Emerson and Fortier appointments, there should at least be a requirement to wait first and go to a byelection before being appointed to Cabinet. Although I can understand the political strategy behind the appointments, I would like to see a law addressing this sort of thing to make appointments more democratically palatable to the people. Perhaps there could be exceptions allowed, as in, for example, national emergencies or times of war, when time isn't a luxury, for these kinds of appointments. This would be consistent with the already-existing allowance of a government to temporarily avoid an election in wartime, as an election at such a time could be considered too dangerous in too many ways.

There needs, I believe, to be a better balance between political/governmental needs and the democratic rights of Canadians.

Still, the real, big-deal work has yet to begin. The brand-new government requires a bit of time to get settled in to the everyday nuts and bolts of governing prior to the return of the House on April 3rd. Then it's going to get interesting!