Will Harper eat his words?

Posted: December 3, 2008 in Uncategorized

Despite his fear mongering rants about “separatist” and “undemocratic” coalitions, Harper sang a vastly different tune when he was leader of the Official Opposition four years ago. Winnipeg Free Press columnist Frances Russell takes us down memory lane:

Today, Harper says it’s disgraceful for the Liberals to broker deals with socialists and separatists. But in September 2004, a month before Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government was set to meet Parliament for the first time. Harper, the newly minted leader of the Official Opposition, joined with NDP leader Jack Layton and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe to send this letter to then Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson:

“As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the prime minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program. We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for a dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority. Your attention to this matter is appreciated.”

Today, Harper accepts no obligation to consult with opposition parties when drafting something as important as a fiscal statement or a budget. But on Oct. 3, 2004, the night before Parliament convened, Harper sang a very different tune on CBC News Sunday Night. Here are some exerpts:

The Liberals “have to consult with people and make sure they tailor their program so that the majority of MPs in the House of Commons will actually vote for it…”

Were he prime minister, Harper continued, “I would have talked to all three other parties extensively to find out what would pass in the Throne Speech and what might not pass, and what they would like to see… If you want to be the government in a minority Parliament, you have to work with other people.”

Harper called the Liberals’ refusal to consult “arrogant” and continued: “The government has a minority — it has an obligation to demonstrate to Canadians that it can govern, that it can form a majority… If it can’t form a majority, we look at other options… I know for a fact that Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton and the people who work for them want this parliament to work and I know it is in all our interests to work…”

He concluded with an uncanny forecast of his own attitude today, accusing the Liberals of believing they “can govern as if they have a majority. And as I’ve told you, I think Joe Clark taught us, I think, that’s the wrong attitude. It didn’t work.”

Last Friday, Harper postponed the Liberals’ opposition day for a week. But when the Liberals postponed opposition days in April 2005, he was furious.

“I think they are just signing their own death warrant. This is the kind of behaviour a government does when it is scared to death of the electorate. When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is frankly when it is rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.”

I invite the many staunch Harperites who have graced an earlier post of mine with their comments to read Russell’s piece in its entirety.

  1. SaltAir says:

    The editorial at he Cape Broton Post concurs.


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