The opposition has every right to defeat the government but Stéphane Dion does not have the right to take power without an election.
-Prime Minister Stephen Harper gives the nation a lesson in parliamentary democracy from the foyer of the House of Commons (November 28, 2008)
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.
-From a letter to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson signed by all three opposition leaders: Gilles Duceppe, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper
(September 9, 2004)
(Many thanks to an ITQ reader who shall remain nameless, but deeply appreciated for her elephant-like memory, for the tip.)
UPDATE FROM THE COMMENTS: Robert McLelland dredges up this absolutely fascinating CBC interview with Stephen Harper from the same time period, in which he goes on at (what is, in hindsight, I’m sure deeply regretted) length on the need for minority governments to cooperate with the opposition, and repeatedly states that he and his party are ready to provide an alternative government, should it be necessary.