Turner denies breach in caucus confidentiality led to ouster

Ontario MP Garth Turner suggested he was suspended from the Tory caucus over some of his political views and not because he broke caucus confidentiality.

Ontario MP Garth Turnersuggested Wednesday he wassuspendedfrom the federal Conservative caucusover some of his political views and not because he broke caucus confidentiality.

Turner, whowillsit as an Independent in the House of Commons,told reportershe "can't answer as to why this happened."

"Why today, this week?" he asked.

"I can't answer the question as to why this happened now. I would certainly recommend you might want to talk to Doug Finley, director of political operations for the Conservative party, to shed some light on that."

Caucus chair Rahim Jaffer said Wednesday that Turner was suspended on recommendation of the party's Ontario caucus.Jaffer said there were concerns regarding Turner, who has maintained a blog on his website since the federal election last January, over breaching caucus confidentiality.

"Go and read[the blog]and make up your own mind," Turner said about the issue of caucus confidentiality.

At odds with party

Jaffer saidTurner was also ousted in part forcritical comments made about the party onthe blog.

Turner, who represents Halton riding,said that at the meeting of the Ontario caucus Wednesday, the issue of caucus confidentiality was not discussed.

"Theissue [was] my beliefs and policies," he said.

Turner has been at odds with the party on a number of issues, including the Tories' position on the Kyoto accordanda possible Defence of Religions Act, which wouldprotect public officials who refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

Shortly after the Conservatives came into power, Turner spoke out against former Liberal MP David Emerson's defection to the Tories.

InWednesday's blog, titled "Holy Smokes,"Turner saidit is "unfortunate" thathe was suspended from the federal Conservative caucus, but added thatit's more importanttolook after his constituents than"heed" his party.

"I have said here many times, and consistently since I was elected this last time, that I work for the voters— the people, the taxpayers. After that I heed my party and the political establishment. All are important, of course, but the people come first."

No lock on perfection

Turner said people want political leaders and MPs "who look at every opinion, chew over ever[y] idea, kick every notion and then decide what’s best."

"So, being kicked out of the Conservative party is unfortunate and I’ll be going back to my riding soon to explain things to those voters who wanted a Tory to represent them.

"But no party— in fact, none of us— has a lock on perfection. The irony is that I’ve been a Conservative longer than most people who call themselves that these days and my beliefs have not changed. I did not leave my party, or my convictions, at the caucus room door."

Turner said he will now be "the best MP I can."

Jaffer said the suspension was a long time coming and the votes were unanimous.

Wednesday's development changes the party standings in the 308-seat House of Commons. The 124 Conservative MPs form a minority government, and there are 101 Liberal MPs, 50 Bloc Québécois MPs, 29 New Democrat MPs andtwo Independent MPs.

The Commonsalso hastwo vacancies. Liberal MP Joe Fontana resigned recently to run in a municipal campaign and BQ MPBenoit Sauvageau died ina traffic accident.