Five years ago

Stephen Harper, leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition, talks to Evan Solomon on the eve of Canada’s 38th Parliament.

First of all, I can’t forget my first responsibility – which is to be the Leader of the Opposition and that’s to provide an alternative government. We’ve always said we’ll support the government when they do things that we can accept … but in general my obligation is to provide an Opposition. It’s the government’s obligation to look really to the third parties to get the support to govern … Well there are lots of things that could bring the government down, but my opposition can not bring the government down. The government can only be brought down because it alienates several parties in the House. And the first obligation in this Parliament, if the government wants to govern, it has to come to Parliament and it has to show that it can get the support of the majority of members, through the Throne Speech, through legislation, and through budget and supply, and the government to this point has made no effort to do that, but that’s its first obligation … We’ll support the government on issues if it’s essential to the country but our primary responsibility is not to prop up the government, our responsibility is to provide an opposition and an alternative government for Parliament and for Canadians. What the government has to do, if it wants to govern for any length of time, is it must appeal primarily to the third parties in the House of Commons to get them to support it.




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Five years ago

  1. No wonder Iggy chose the words he did.

  2. That government lost the support of all the Opposition parties as well. So much so they sent a letter to the GG reminding her that they may be able to gain the confidence of the House.

    • "Attention! Attention! Conservatives are at war with coalitions. We have always been at war with coalitions. Making Parliament work is our credo. Making Parliament work has always been our credo."

      Thoughtcrime will not be permitted.

    • WDM, that was in Sept 2004, before Parliament reconvened after the 2004 election. It wasn't a formal coalition agreement, or anything of the like. It was more a defence against a snap election call by a government in search of a majority.

  3. That's some darn good ad copy right there, Vern.

  4. Harper Harper Harper…. your words will always come back to haunt you.

  5. As to the article, it was no doubt a little easier for the Liberals in government to curry favour with 3rd parties, especially the NDP (which of course they eventually did). The flipside of that was that it was easier for the Conservatives to be a consistent Opposition party to the government.

    As such, it was more of a "normal" Parliament.

    Having said all that, what the NDP approach has been to date is "do as we say or no support" … well, that's not reasonable negotiating. The NDP represent only 37 members, and only 11 are needed to pass legislation through (and perhaps even only 10, if Andre Arthurs is counted in with the Conservatives).

    If the NDP or Bloc come to the Conservatives with realistic areas where they can work together, or that they don't immediately dismiss any suggestion coming from the government, I'm sure they'll find that progress can be made.

    But I don't think the Conservatives fear an election enough to give up too much, so the 3rd parties need to factor that in.

    • I'm not buying it. If the CPC were willing to play ball on a few NDP items, they could gain the NDP's support. The NDP dumped much of their election platform in the coalition negotiations, after all.

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