A lot can change in seven years


Joan Bryden compares the Stephen Harper of today with the Stephen Harper of 2004.

A reporter asked whether Canadians might not “get the impression that you’re trying to run the government here even though you’ve lost the election.”Harper responded: “It is the Parliament that’s supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party. I guess that’s a criticism that I’ve had and that we’ve had and that most Canadians have had for a long, long time.”

Separately, Mike De Souza finds that future Conservative senator Mike Duffy reported government-forming musings among Conservatives at the time.

About one month later, on the day of the Martin minority government’s first throne speech, CTV’s Mike Duffy, later appointed by Harper as a Conservative senator, said that his future colleagues among the Tories had more than just an arrangement in mind. “It is possible that you could change prime minister without having an election,” Duffy said on CTV on Oct. 5. “If you could put Stephen Harper — and this is some of the thinking of Conservatives — in 24 Sussex Drive, even for five or six months without an election, it would make the Conservative option much more palatable to Canadians because they’d see that they don’t have horns and a tail.”


A lot can change in seven years

  1. Governing by parliamentary majority is largely seff-evident isn't it.

    Seeing as how Harper has lost only one confidence vote in 5 yrs, it is fairly obvious that he's been able to obtain majority support for his initiatives.

  2. It would have been outrageous if Harper had seized power without an election. Im glad he never did that.

  3. These points need to be hammered in by the opposition.

    Harper is at the epitome of hypocrisy when fear mongering about coalitions and it really irks me.

  4. You apparently have Jack Layton to thank for that.

  5. "and this is some of the thinking of Conservatives…"

    You mean, using the Conservative language of 2008, that there were actual Conservatives plotting a 'Coup' in 2004?

  6. …and…

    One of the versions of this ongoing story, is that Jack Layton bolted for the exit, thus preventing it. This story is at least as plausible, perhaps more plausible, than Mr. Harper's after the fact rationalizations have been.

  7. I don't think it would have been "outrageous", and I don't think I'd characterize it as "seizing power", but I guess I'm nonetheless glad that no one's ever done that since Lord Byng was GG.

  8. This post is absurd.

  9. I think it would have set a dangerous precedent. And typically, when a party is in power gets a new leader, this leader usually heads to the poll pretty quickly because he doesnt have a mandate to govern from the people (like Paul Martin in 2004) So if a leader from a different party takes power, a similar rule should apply.

  10. I agree, but last week when the election kicked off, and all the media would ask Iggy about was coalition, threatening him that he had to answer of it would never go away — that seemed kind of bullying and one-sided to me.

    Why not ask Layton and Gilles if Iggy has approached them? That's what harper is saying — that they're in cahoots and ready to go.

    OMG, I just loathe the pm. Never felt so strongly and negatively about a politician in my life. Just a visceral dislike.

  11. Your latter point, though, isn't an actual philosophical point necessarily germane to parliamentary governance. It's largely a fictional storyline created by the media/leadership newbies wanting to either provoke (media) or rationalize(leader newbie) an election call. The whole "mandate" arguement is nonsense, if you believe the ministry is that group of individuals capable of maintaining the confidence of the chamber. Who leads them as Prime Minister can, theoretically, change with the seasons so long as the House supports them. The Prime Minister has a mandate from Calgary and no one else except through the MPs themselves.

  12. Well, absolutely a majority of Parliament can toss out the government early on and put a new one in.

    Why do you think Harper's been explicit about needing a majority this time out, to keep his job? Because it's true.

  13. yes thanks for repeating that lame argument. i've now heard it 1 million and 1 times.

    we have a constitutional framework, and we have the expectations from the public. these 2 dont necessarily coincide. but politicians ignore the public at their peril.

  14. How so Mike? Are you saying he hasn't been able to obtain support from other parties, and has forced them into voting with the government.

    The longevity of Harper's minority government has now surpassed all previous Canadian minorities.

  15. Nice to hear that you're basing your voting preferences on something rational, like a gut feeling!

  16. "It would have been outrageous if Harper had seized power without an election. Im glad he never did that."

    Neither did anyone else, if you recall.

  17. Bob Rae did it in Ontario with David Peterson in 1985.

    And Iggy is planning to do it again after this election.

  18. It wouldn't have set a precedent at all though, dangerous or otherwise. It would have been in keeping with a precedent that's ALREADY BEEN SET.

  19. I was limiting my comment to the federal context.

    In any event, it's a little over the top to call the Peterson-Rae accord as a "seizure of power". The Progressive Conservatives lost a confidence motion and the L-G asked Peterson to form a government.

  20. Charming reply.

    The expectations of the public are often articulated for them so often that they actually think they always held them.

  21. true, I guess we'll see what those expectations are if Harper doesnt get a majority and Iggy takes power.

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