Nycole Turmel – much ado about nothing?

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Hi there. I'm Nycole and I wear flip flops all summer! Moi! Je suis un Canadian. I drink Molson and I eschew foreign wines for Ontario chardonnays. Screw you pundits. I'm here. So chomp on dat tabernac. Photo by Tommy C Douglas.


The recent NDP dog and pony show is a heaping mound of hyperbole with a candid slice of sap-sucking morality play as dessert.

Nycole Turmel, an erstwhile separatist, disguised as a new age New Democrat, with apparently a plethora of social democratic goals commingling in her teeming noodle, is at the centre of a passionate debate about brand loyalty.

To wit: Can one carry a card for the Bloc Quebecois and at the same time win a seat for the New Democrats?

Here’s what we think about that.

Canadian politics is a meagre gruel. The one party that has actually stood for something other than a simpering “get me past the post” agenda with the subsequent bull shit platforms, is the Bloc Quebecois. (Oh yes there’s that Christian Heritage Party, who runs its engine on the single digit platform of unborn kids – a grisly and macabre bunch of loopy idealogues and batty fundamentalists. They don’t count.)

Even the Greens have adopted a shaky platform based on a clandestine meld of CCF/NDP tiffle-fuffle. The Greens have no agenda except the Tar Sands in Fort MacMurray tarred and biscuit joined with the bones of dead whales and dying trees. I know. Yay for the Greens. I support their sensibilities but we all dismiss them as a rational guiding force in Canada.

So what’s wrong with carrying a torch for Quebec. Because we all know that most of the people that voted for and indeed organized for the Bloc were not there (note past tense) to prop up that separatist agenda but only to piss off Hard Hair Harper and the Glib Libs.

When a province of disenfranchised plebes want to voice displeasure at their unique raw deal within the Canadian paradigm what do they do?

They protest at the polls. Quebecois are a strange bunch. piss em off and they let you know. Harper found that out in this election and the last.

This is a province that voted for one of the most corrupt politicians in Canadian history. Maurice Duplessis. Duplessis knew how to get the populace out to the polls. Some of the voters were so enamored of his single minded agenda that they voted again and again and again. Some were chauffered around by cops voting at many polls using names of recently deceased voters.

Duplessis gave the people the Dep or Depanneur, allowing moms and pops to sell beer and wine at their local stores.

Premier Maurice Duplessis governed with absolute control. Although his era became known as “la Grande noirceur” (The Great Darkness), Duplessis delivered roads, hospitals, and prosperity for Quebecers. They loved ’em their Maurice Duplessis in Quebec.

That’s all we need to know about Quebec. Ignore ’em at your peril.

Jack Layton is no Duplessis and he’s no Gilles Duceppe.

Good on the former and pity on the latter because Duceppe at least stood for something.

The NDP is an homogenous clusterduck and a faded caricature of the party that Tommy Douglas issued softly into the 20th century.

So why is Nycole Turmel taking such heat for leading the Quebec charge with her own brand of je ne sais quoi and laissez faire fence sitting?

Because it’s summer knuckleheads and pundits must feed the empty page with their hiccuped tales of corruption, bupkis and loopy harangues.

I mean what are you going to do? Kick her out of the freaking party? Let’s all get real. let’s remember Bob Rae. And let’s remember thet Pierre Elliott Himself started life as a radical left winger.

We grow and we capitulate. Especially when you’re guaranteed $150,000 per for the next five years. Don’t worry pundits and people. Nycole Turmel will soon blend into the bureaucratic tapestry. She’s on Parliament Hill y’all.

Where all good idealists go to dye their allegiance to Red, Blue and Orange. Oops. Yes okay and Green as well.

here’s another less cryptic take on the Turmel thingy. We like to do the yin with the yang.

BY MICHAEL TAUBE for the Ottawa Citizren

I don’t make it a habit of defending either Canadian socialists or Quebec separatists. But when it comes to the pseudoShakespearean tragedy of interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel, it’s really much ado about nothing.

A past president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Turmel ran for the NDP in the federal riding of Hull-Alymer this year. She was the first non-Liberal to be elected in the riding in nearly a century. When Jack Layton temporarily stepped down as NDP leader on July 25 due to a second bout of cancer, he publicly supported Turmel’s candidacy to replace him as interim leader. The NDP caucus overwhelmingly agreed.

That should have been the end of the story – until the fall parliamentary session, anyway. What the former union leader and political neophyte didn’t count on was her past associations were going to make big news.

During the federal election, Turmel had been outed as a member of the fringe left-wing separatist party, Québec solidaire. It wasn’t a big deal, however. The NDP has no Quebec-based counterpart, and socialist votes in that province tend to be scattered among the Parti Québécois, QS and others. Turmel’s decisive electoral victory indicated her constituents didn’t care all that much, either.

Now it has been revealed Turmel was also a card-carrying member of the Bloc Québécois. She joined in December 2006 to support a friend, BQ MP Carole Lavallée. She made four separate party donations totalling $235. And according to the Toronto Star, Turmel turned down Gilles Duceppe on two occasions to run for the party, stating she was opposed to separatism and, “I said it many, many times that I was a federalist.”

Even so, this political revelation led to a talking head explosion. The Globe and Mail’s editorial board opined, ” … the decision to invest a long-standing sovereigntist with the interim leadership of Canada’s Official Opposition is a serious political miscalculation that speaks to an incapacity in the NDP.” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “It’s very disappointing … I think Canadians expect that any political party that wants to govern the country be unequivocally committed to this country.” Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae noted, “Only she and her NDP colleagues will know what she told them. And, according to her own admission, she’s still in agreement with the Bloc’s policies. Someone has some explaining to do.”

What’s my position? I agree that holding membership in a separatist party is highly questionable, and usually not the wisest route to political success. But I’ve heard much, much worse in my day.

Turmel’s explanation that she was simply supporting a friend makes perfect sense. Many people purchase party cards to support family members, friends and even business associates. Some let them lapse after a year, and others renew them on an annual basis. Jumping from political lily pad to lily pad is more common these days, and familial and sociological loyalty to political parties is a thing of the past.

At the same time, the amount of money Turmel gave to the BQ in four years was next to nothing. She apparently didn’t even hold a role in a riding association. At best, she sounds like a fair-weather party supporter. Like it or not, this is hardly a great cause for concern. Yet she has had to face multiple accusations of supporting the separatist cause.

Many Quebecers have freely shifted their votes from the BQ to NDP because of the two parties’ similar social democratic values and likeminded policy proposals. Not too long ago, the BQ was the only viable alternative for Quebec leftists who couldn’t bring themselves to vote Liberal. In one well-known example, Turmel’s union supported some BQ candidates in the 2006 federal election. This was clearly a vote for socialist – rather than separatist – ideology.

So old Taube is right of course. This is no big deal. It’s another politician with some hazy recollections.

Michael Taube, a political analyst and commentator, and former speech writer for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, usually appears every other Saturday.

Thanks – The Ottawa Citizen