Garth Turner visits Duncan

So I met Garth Turner today, the former Tory MP -- now liberal who's daily blog (garth.ca) is a fantastic read. Along with him was a the former mayor of duncan and the liberal candidate for the region.

I'm terrible with names, and i'm not sure I got them all; so I'm just going to nickname people.

Jill and I arrived about 10 minutes early, but the meeting was already well underway. The group was discussing income trusts at first, but it wasn't why they were there really.

A thoughtful discussion was raised when one of the guys (lock-em-up guy) there said we needed to reform our prision system, using the money from the gun registry to build at-least four state of the art facilities. His argument, we need manditory sentancing for gun crimes -- a tory staple. Somewhere in the discussion Garth said, 'or some really well built gallows' which got a laugh from everyone but the original questioner.

I interjected that there's a big difference between crime motivation, what makes sense for rational people turns from reformative to punative based on a wide variety of circumstances, like drug-related crime or crimes of poverty.

This resonated with the group, and lead to a short discussion on the island community and our issues which then prompted me to ask Garth, what his opinion was on the Green Party platform of a negative income tax, or guaranteed annual income. His thoughts were that a baseline rate would give people hope whom are currently without it. Support for GAI, i think, but I'm not 100% sure that was answered.

The conversation carried from there to a number of other topics, do you know so and so and such. Stuff, I honestly was either too young to know the conversation or just simply ignorant of the names and places involved, I'm not sure.

A while went by and I got the chance to ask Garth and the group what advice he would give to a couple like myself and jill looking to buy a house. His advice, wait. The market is at the top of the cycle and he perceives a US recession is likely. The reasoning, we get dragged down with the US too.

My brother and I often have quite the debate about whether interest rates will be allowed to spike high and whether the market will be allowed to retract. So in seeking clarity to this I asked one key, and very pointed, question.

"How do you square the need for market correction with the fact that the majority of voters are heavily endebted and will, as an election priority, want a market bailout as we've seen in the US"

His answer

"You don't"

Honest, but less than helpful. Politicians are elected to represent the majority, but what the majority wants is not really feasible. What I took away is that, we shouldn't bail out the market, but it might happen for political capital reasons.

When I brought up my brother's large mortgage and his opinion that the govt would intercede, he said "Don't count on it" in a laughing you-gotta-be-crazy kind of voice.

The issue -- clear as mud.

The conversation continued, fracturing at times into small talking groups -- it was hard to follow.

Garth, the liberal candidate and the former mayor then had to go. In all the conversation lasted about 30 minutes.

Somewhere along the way we posed for a picture.

While making the parting remarks I spoke with the Liberal Candidate whom offered some generic advice regarding our housing question, echoing largely what had been said before, but making an effort to be engaging and frank with a potential constituent. I appreciated it.

Afterwards, I spoke with get-a-life guy (famous for being told off by a Tory MP, eventually exposed as a MP's assitant). A colourful fellow, his advice was not to buy. He rambled a bit, but was well intentioned.

And we left.

In all -- it was quite fun to finally get to shake Garth's hand after giving em so much crap on the blog from time to time. I wish it would have been longer than 30 minutes, as that group could have gone on for hours, productively with a meaningful and intellectually informed debate. But it was a good exercise, and frankly surprising to see a federal MP set foot in Duncan.