Though it’s not reported exactly what question was put to him, Stephen Harper seems to have explained this morning what he meant when he asked Adrienne Clarkson in 2004 to consider her “options.”
“What was the option? The option was very clear. It’s the option we did. Which was as opposition leader I was seeking to put pressure on the government to influence its agenda without bringing it down, without defeating it and replacing it.”
Harper said that at the time, Martin was saying that any change in government policy, no matter how small, would be treated as a confidence measure and he would go to the governor general. “My position was if he did that the governor general should come to us. I would have told the governor general we in fact are not trying to bring the government down. All Mr. Martin has to do is sit down and talk with us. And I’m sure we will find a resolution.”
This, though it would seem to involve dabbling with the confidence convention, is similar to what Mr. Harper said when asked in 2004 about the letter to the governor general and whether he was interested in forming government. Except that at that time, he described the possibility of forming government as “extremely hypothetical.” Both Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe maintain Mr. Harper was interested in the possibility of forming government at the time, despite being one of the “losers” of the 2004 election.
Nonetheless, if this answers the first of those two questions for Mr. Harper, that leaves only the second in need of a response.