I took the Garth challenge: Example of caucus breach

In his news conference today, Garth Turner challenged members of the media to find record of him breaching caucus confidentiality. Garth explained that his blog contains record of what he has said.

I have found a section which has been altered.

The original version:

It wasn’t too long ago that Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice took the podium in national caucus to brief people on the soon-to-be-announced settlement for aboriginal people victimized by their residential schools experience. Prentice apparently had been appalled at the deal he found the outgoing Liberals had struck — essentially handing money over without proof a person had actually been at one of those places — and did a lot to tighten it up.

Still, when he announced the multi-billion-dollar amount involved, the room let out one collective gasp. It was simply breathtaking — enough money to give the Canadian military their dream shopping list for the next four years. Enough to bail out all those floundering farmers. Enough to start slashing health care waiting times for all Canadians.

Anyway, I guess the deal is going forward. Wiser minds than mine — lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers — have determined there’s no turning back. Pay now, we were told, or the feds will end up paying more later.

So it was hard to keep from thinking about that as I watched the footage of native protestors in Caledonia dragging a downed hydro tower along a road and using a power shovel to rip up the asphalt. I thought about it as I fielded calls from some anguished business owners in that town, who are teetering on the edge of failure *their customers scared off, and now the lights extinguished after a big transformer was torched.

I certainly thought about it as I read through emails like this one from a couple of fed-up constituents:

We watched tonight’s news coverage. We were disgusted by the actions that continue to be allowed by Native Canadians and the lack of policing by the OPP. As non natives we would not be allowed (by Canadian law) to behave in the way that the Natives have been allowed. We would have been arrested and on our way to jail. Why do we have to abide by Canadian law but the natives do not?

As constituents in your area we would like to know what your position is regarding the First Nations situation in Caledonia? We would like to know why Canadian troops are fighting terrorists in other countries yet the native terrorist acts are allowed in our own country? The natives voice to whatever news media that will listen that they are a nation upon themselves and that they will deal only with our federal government. When will our federal government become involved? Perhaps the funding to the “Nation upon themselves” should be redirected to other areas. Natives should not be allowed to have it both ways.

Hmmm. Politically incorrect, for sure. But also a reasonable, rational reaction from people who know damn well that if they pried the top off an Ontario Hydro transformer, and poured in gasoline, their butts would be behind bars.

Tonight the barricades, most of them at least, have thankfully been removed. There is a certain calm, much to the relief of the Dalton McGuinty government and former premier David Peterson, who’s been acting as go-between. But about 3,000 townspeople remain without power, and the raw nerves this has caused could take months, or years, to be soothed.

The native leaders are demanding the federal government get involved in the next round of talks.

Some in Caledonia would say, no wonder.

The altered post

It wasn’t too long ago that Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice took over the highly complex issue of compensation for aboriginal people victimized by their residential schools experience. The outgoing Liberals had struck a deal that apparently was an eye-opener — essentially handing money over without proof a person had actually ever been at one of those places. It rested on Prentice’s broad shoulders to tighten things up.

Still, it’s a multi-billion-dollar deal. Simply breathtaking — enough money to give the Canadian military their dream shopping list for the next four years. Enough to bail out all those floundering farmers. Enough to start slashing health care waiting times for all Canadians.

Anyway, it goes forward. Wiser minds than mine — lawyers, lawyers and more lawyers — have determined there’s no turning back. Pay now, the logic goes, or the feds will end up paying more later.

So it was hard to keep from thinking about that as I watched the footage of native protestors in Caledonia dragging a downed hydro tower along a road and using a power shovel to rip up the asphalt. I thought about it as I fielded calls from some anguished business owners in that town, who are teetering on the edge of failure –their customers scared off, and now the lights extinguished after a big transformer was torched.

I certainly thought about it as I read through emails like this one from a couple of fed-up constituents:

We watched tonight’s news coverage. We were disgusted by the actions that continue to be allowed by Native Canadians and the lack of policing by the OPP. As non natives we would not be allowed (by Canadian law) to behave in the way that the Natives have been allowed. We would have been arrested and on our way to jail. Why do we have to abide by Canadian law but the natives do not?

As constituents in your area we would like to know what your position is regarding the First Nations situation in Caledonia? We would like to know why Canadian troops are fighting terrorists in other countries yet the native terrorist acts are allowed in our own country? The natives voice to whatever news media that will listen that they are a nation upon themselves and that they will deal only with our federal government. When will our federal government become involved? Perhaps the funding to the “Nation upon themselves” should be redirected to other areas. Natives should not be allowed to have it both ways.

Hmmm. Politically incorrect, for sure. But also a reasonable, rational reaction from people who know damn well that if they pried the top off an Ontario Hydro transformer, and poured in gasoline, their butts would be behind bars.

Tonight the barricades, most of them at least, have thankfully been removed. There is a certain calm, much to the relief of the Dalton McGuinty government and former premier David Peterson, who’s been acting as go-between. But about 3,000 townspeople remain without power, and the raw nerves this has caused could take months, or years, to be soothed.

The native leaders are demanding the federal government get involved in the next round of talks.

Some in Caledonia would say, no wonder.

UPDATE: I received an email from Garth Turner about this post. He doesn’t debate the veracity of the content posted above but he worries that it might be misinterpreted and that some may comprehend this post to imply that he recently changed his blog to cover-up the content (the post was written back in May). He’d like to emphasize that the original posting was changed, within a day of authoring it, to the altered post. I did not consider that potential misinterpretation, but this information is here just in case you did read it this way. He also would like to clarify that he did so “ironically” to be a team player and to comply with a request from the Government Whip. I present this clarification, not because I believed it to be necessary, but as a convenience to you the reader and out of courtesy to Mr. Turner.

However, the single intention of this post was to respond to Garth’s challenge to Canadians and the media to read his blog for evidence of a breach of caucus confidentiality. I have presented an example of that breach here and hope that it sheds some light into the legitimate concern of the members of the Ontario Tory members that they might have one day fell victim to Garth’s caucus gossip on his blog if they continued to meet with him in a forum of confidence.

UPDATE (10/19 @ 7:30am): Garth was on Rob Breakenridge’s show on CHQR last night. Rob asks “Have you changed anything”. Garth responds “No. Everything’s the way I wrote it”. Listen to the show and the moment where Garth realizes that he may need to change his story.

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