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Turner joins Liberals 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:40 p.m., February 6, 2007]

Has Garth Turner found a new home?.

OTTAWA  — Independent no more.   

Independent MP Garth Turner announced Tuesday that he will join the Liberal caucus. 

Turner made the announcement at a press conference with Liberal Leader Stephane Dion at his side.

"I know Mr. Turner's constituents of Halton will only be better served by his decision today," Dion said in a statement. 

The defection changes nothing in terms of the balance of power in Canada's Parliament as the Conservatives and NDP still have a combined 154 votes, enough to survive a confidence test. 
 
The Toronto-area MP has sat as an independent since he was voted out of the Tory caucus by his colleagues last October.  

At the time, Turner expressed suspicion that his dismissal was because of his outspoken criticism of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his inner circle, including its environmental policy. 

The Tories said it was because of concerns about Turner breaching caucus confidentiality on his popular blog. 

"The Liberal party is as close to my PC roots as I'm going to get," Turner said at his press conference.

"The progressive part of the Conservative party is gone."

Turner was elected to Parliament in the 1980s as a Progressive Conservative and even ran for the party's leadership in 1993. 

Monday evening Turner voted in favour of Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's motion calling on the Conservative government to fully commit Canada to the obligations of the Kyoto protocol. 

The move surprised some of the commenters on his blog given Turner's past opposition to the Kyoto targets. 

Shortly after he was dumped from caucus there was open speculation that Turner could join the Green party and make history by becoming the country's first Green MP. 

Turner even campaigned with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May against Liberal Glen Pearson in a November byelection in London, Ontario. Pearson won that contest and will now share the same caucus room with Turner. 

Turner's feud with the Harper PMO began days after the government was sworn in last February when he was the most vocal critic in the Tory caucus of Trade Minister David Emerson's defection from the Liberals to the Tories. 

The MP called for Emerson to resign his seat and run in a byelection before joining the caucus. He later wrote in his blog how he was read the riot act about his comments by Harper himself. 

NDP MP Peter Stoffer has been among the biggest critics of floor crossers on Parliament Hill.  

Stoffer told PoliticsWatch on Tuesday that Turner's decision will not sit well given how "big a deal" he made about Emerson. 

"It just shows you that he's got a lot of explaining to do," Stoffer said. "He's always talking about his constituents. Well his constituents should have a say in what he should be doing. 

Stoffer said Turner should let his constituents decide in a byelection whether or not he sits in the Liberal caucus. 

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