I sincerely hope we will not be seeing an election campaign waged on such a silly premise as that the Liberal Party might seek support from other parties in the event of a minority government. Stephen Harper would do the same thing. You have to, in order to govern. As a matter of fact, that’s precisely what Stephen Harper tried to do in 2004. With the Bloc. You know, the ones he now says are illegitimate separatists who have no place in government.
This point cannot be made loudly enough, or frequently enough, and with our effort hopefully we can push the media into driving the point home too and not allowing the Harper Government™ to continue on this particular odious campaign tactic. Stephen Harper says that we can’t trust the Liberals because they’d try to buck the will of the electorate by joining with separatists in the Bloc Quebecois to form a government. Well, maybe they would and maybe they wouldn’t. But the point is immaterial, because Harper is projecting. That’s exactly what he tried to do in 2004. It didn’t work, so now he’s blaming the Liberals for trying it instead.
Before I go on, let me make another important point. There is no coalition plot. If there was, they wouldn’t need to wait till May to “throw out the election.” They already had a majority. They already could have offered to form a government. They didn’t. Ergo, no coalition. That this is even an issue shows how fundamentally incompetent the Parliamentary press gallery has become.
In 2004, Harper had a problem. That June, the hapless Paul Martin Liberals had kept government, but only with a dangerously reduced minority of 135 seats. There was no question that the Liberals were in trouble, beset by the same sort of corruption problems that are now hounding the Conservative Party, which ran on the promise that it wouldn’t be corrupt (broken promise #1) or appoint more Senators (broken promise #2). But Harper hadn’t taken enough seats in vote-rich Ontario to replace him — yet. So he decided to do the next best thing and propose an alliance with the Bloc, which would give him more seats than the Liberals.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Institutional memory is short, but the electorate’s should not be. Many of the first Bloc MPs were Conservatives. Its inaugural leader, Lucien Bouchard, was actually the environment minister under Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney. At the time, Harper was unsuccessfully running for Parliament as a Conservative MP. So you could say he’s already been in a coalition government with separatists. The PC coalition party fell apart in the early 1990s, with Quebec separatists spinning off in one direction, Western Reformers (including a few of their own separatists, it should be pointed out) in another, and a tiny remnant party later temporarily taken over by Joe Clark. Harper put the last two components back together in 2003 when he merged the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance.
And then, after losing the election in 2004, he decided to bring the Bloc separatists back into the Tory tent in order to seize power from the Liberals. It’s this last part that Harper now describes as illegitimate and “not principled.” He even co-wrote a letter with Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP leader Jack Layton proposing the coalition, which has been released to the public by the Canadian Press, and which I am releasing here as well. Remember, this is precisely the thing about which Harper now claims any leader proposing it should be instantly kicked out of politics by the public:
September 9, 2004
Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General, Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A1
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 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.
Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P. Leader of the Opposition, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Gilles Duceppe, M.P., Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
Jack Layton, M.P., Leader of the New Democratic Party
What that fancified bit of language means, put in ordinary terms, is that Stephen Harper, a separatist, and what he calls a socialist (Layton) asked the Governor-General, in the words the Harper Government™ uses today, to throw out the results of a democratic election and ask the Governor-General to “consult” them, i.e. to ask them whether they are willing to form an alternative government in place of the Liberals.
Sorry, Stephen. Time to move on to the next campaign theme, eh?Tweet