Garth Turner: Good Blogger

There's been a huge amount of noise in the Canadian blogosphere in the last 24 hours, reacting to the news that Conservative MP Garth Turner was just summarily dismissed from the federal caucus over comments he'd made in his blog, The Turner Report. A couple of friends have asked my opinion on this, so here it is, for what it's worth.

For the record, first of all: I'm no particular fan of Mr. Turner's political views, nor am I in any way a Conservative supporter. In truth, I don't really have a strong opinion on Garth as an individual, one way or the other. He's done well for himself, clearly, and seems like a smart bloke - but whatever thoughts I have to offer on this incident inevitably have to come from a different perspective.

Like Garth, I'm a blogger, and have been for close to six years. So my response to this comes solely from a blogger's perspective. As Voltaire put it: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it," to which I would add: especially when you say it on your blog.

Blogging is about openness, clarity, transparency, truth, and opinion. In this respect, Garth Turner is a good blogger - he speaks his mind fearlessly; is clear and candid about his opinions.  I may not like his opinions, but I respect him for his candour.

Perhaps, as a very public figure, he should have been more prudent in his remarks. "Blog smart" is a good maxim to follow, no matter what your day job is. From what I've gleaned, the reason for his dismissal was stated as "compromising caucus confidentiality". If that's true, he goofed - for sure.

The scuttlebutt, however, suggests a different story: that he was uninstalled primarily because his outspoken and sometimes controversial blog comments flew in the face of the official party line. If that is really the case, then the entire incident is much more worrying. Is Garth Turner being punished for having and expressing ideas?

A government that is not open to a broad mix of ideas and opinions - especially within its own ranks - is a scary thing. Is bland, on-message homogeneity really what we want from the people we vote into positions of power? Again: I don't particularly like where he stands on a lot of issues, but I like the fact that he says what he thinks and causes me to think in return.

Brendan Hodgson also has some thoughts worth reading on this topic.

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