Tories get Murdoch back while former leader lands radio gig
Maria Babbage, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, April 23, 2009 9:17PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 10:44PM EDT
TORONTO - Maverick politician Bill Murdoch has returned to the Progressive Conservative fold, a sign the party's fractious caucus is finally on the mend after John Tory's tumultuous reign as leader of the party.
The feisty Conservative who represents the riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound will be sitting in the Opposition benches as soon as next week, after eight months of sitting as an Independent.
Murdoch, who was booted from caucus after suggesting that then-leader John Tory find a new job, said he owed it to his constituents to represent them as a Conservative.
But that doesn't mean he won't speak out against the leader ever again, he said Thursday.
"I have no reservations whatsoever," he said in an interview from his riding.
"I always did discuss things within caucus, if I felt that I was getting screwed, then I let them know about that. No, I won't be any different that way."
Murdoch had mused about returning to caucus soon after Tory resigned as leader in early March following a crushing byelection defeat.
But those plans seemed to be on hold when it was suggested that Murdoch would have to hold his tongue if he wanted back in.
Last month, interim Leader Bob Runciman said the 24-member caucus would likely ask Murdoch to meet "certain commitments" before agreeing to take him back.
Murdoch bristled, saying he might not come back at all if the caucus was going to put conditions on his return.
But after discussing the matter with Runciman, Murdoch said he made up his mind to come back -- with no strings attached.
"I made it quite clear I'm no different than I ever was," he said with a laugh.
"Bill is Bill. I mean, he's a good friend of mine and we worked together for many, many years," Runciman said.
"I think Bill appreciates the role of caucus and the impact that things said outside of caucus can have on everyone who is a member of that caucus.
"He made commitments, we made commitments, and I think there's an understanding that everybody in the caucus is supportive of."
Murdoch's return came on the same day Tory announced he was jumping back into public spotlight as a radio talk-show host.
The former Rogers executive, whose first job was at a Toronto radio station and has often spoken of his love for the medium, said he'll host the hourly call-in show on Toronto station CFRB every Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
Politics may well come up, but Tory said he doesn't want it to dominate the show.
"I think people would expect that I would do a program that's dominated by politics, and I think that might make them less likely to listen to it," said the longtime party strategist, who worked with former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell.
But he's not giving up the search for what he'll end up doing next.
"I'm still looking at opportunities in business or law or non-profit," he said. "But it's going to be fun."