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Rude gestures, hoots greet Turner's first day as Liberal in question period

Published: Wednesday, February 7, 2007 | 4:08 PM ET

Canadian Press


OTTAWA (CP) - Renegade MP Garth Turner was greeted by hoots and a rude gesture from his former Tory colleagues on Wednesday when he made his question period debut as a Liberal.


His new comrades gave him a standing ovation.


Turner once again offered to lay his Commons seat on the line if Prime Minister Stephen Harper would promise an immediate byelection.


The Liberals roared. Tories booed. Selkirk MP James Bezan pumped his forearm in a vulgar gesture in Turner's direction.


Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan marvelled that after only 24 hours in the Liberal caucus, Turner got an ovation by promising to resign.


Turner, who was kicked out of the Tory caucus last fall and joined the Liberals on Tuesday, also challenged the prime minister again to call byelections in the seats held by Conservatives David Emerson and Wajid Khan, both of whom defected from the Liberals.


Turner said he wanted a guarantee of an immediate byelection so voters in his riding of Halton won't be without an MP for months.


The prime minister normally has up to six months in which to call a byelection following an MP's resignation or death.


Van Loan wouldn't promise an immediate byelection, but said the matter is in Turner's hands:


"I will assure the member for Halton if he wishes to see a byelection in Halton, it's fully within his control. He can resign today, I'm sure we would comply."


The question period moment came just hours after Turner made his debut at Liberal caucus, assuring his new colleagues that he's a team player.


Turner was booted from the Tory caucus last October after repeatedly criticizing Harper's government and allegedly disclosing caucus secrets in his popular weblog.


Although they greeted him warmly when Liberal Leader Stephane Dion introduced the party's newest recruit, some Grit MPs privately worried that Turner would turn his critical eye on them.


Turner went out of his way to allay such concerns.


"I know some of you may have heard that I have a blog. Do not fear," Turner told Liberal MPs and senators.


"I understand the rules of the game. I understand completely we have to move together as a team. We can't be a hundred people running in a hundred different directions."


Turner also took a swipe at Harper, saying he's glad to be working under Dion.


"We have a leader in this room who does not lead us through fear and intimidation but who leads us by example and inspiration," he said.


Turner, who served in the cabinet in the short-lived Conservative government of Kim Campbell in 1993, had been sitting in the House of Commons as an independent MP after the Tories threw him out.


His move to the Liberals did not change the balance of power in the minority Parliament.

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Well it has strings attached, Emerson and Khan have to run in a by-election too, and Turner's by-election would have to be immeadite. However, I believe the Grits already have a candidate nominated in Emerson's riding, and the Torys have had plenty of time by now to replace Turner with a new Conservative Party nomination for his riding. So, I doubt it would be too much of a hardship for the parties.

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table-crossings make me so mad sometimes. So undemocratic in way. I wish there was no such thing as political "parties". It takes so much power away from the individual MP's who are supposed to be representing us, since they almost always vote with the party line. Then again, i could see a lot of crookednees happen if every MP was independant. Individuals are much easier to be paid off.


politics BAH!!!

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