Stephen Harper and constitutional convention


Tom Flanagan, a former advisor to Mr. Harper, is asked for his opinion on the 2004 gambit.

Asked if Mr. Harper might have had a different motivation for sending the letter to Ms. Clarkson — one other than ensuring that she explored the option of Conservative-led minority if Martin’s government fell — Mr. Flanagan replied: “I can’t see what other point there would have been in writing the letter except to remind everybody that it was possible to change the government in that set of circumstances without an election.”

Meanwhile, John Geddes talks to Don Desserud, who finds Mr. Harper’s understanding of convention to be “odd.”


Stephen Harper and constitutional convention

  1. The pile-on continues.

    Oh, there is also Mike Duffy, then a conservative commentator and now a Conservative Senator:

    "It is possible that you could change prime minister without having an election. 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."
    – Mike Duffy, Oct. 5, 2004

  2. I don't see how any of this is inconsistent with the PM's current interpretation of the letter. After all, the letter was about getting the Governor General to look at "all her options".

    Surely this includes both options which exist in reality AND those that don't.

  3. As Martin put it today, the only way to a Conservative majority is by the creation of a false reality.

  4. Mr. Flanagan replied: “I can't see what other point there would have been in writing the letter except to remind everybody that it was possible to change the government in that set of circumstances without an election.”

    Wasn't that what I had argued yesterday? Now, we have two of the three amigos, as well as Flanagan, contradicting Harper. The two amigos were there with him in the hotel room and Flanagan was his advisor so these were all people who should know.

    Time for the Libs/opposition to use this as a contempt for truth, yes for crying out loud, link it back to CONTEMPT and start yelling everyday that his government was kicked out for exactly that — contempt of Parliament, voters and truth.

  5. Mike Duffy the REPORTER???

    Yeah, like I'm supposed to believe that any Tory would talk to a member of the vast left-wing media conspiracy and tell him what they're really thinking.

    Mike Duffy is a liberal hack, and we all know he made that up.

  6. I was all set to make a(in my own mind, anyway) hilarious comment, and then I Irealized that I can't keep up with the sludge pile of comments that seem to be filling all the blog posts. So instead, I'm hanging up MostlyCivil until after the election.

    See you all May 3rd.

  7. Mr.Flanagan knows what Stephen Harper thought at any given time in history? Mr.Flanagan must be a very special individual to be able to do that. Of course, he would not want to watch the real thing, you know, the video in which Harper himself and Layton and Duceppe besides, speak for themselves. http://cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&a… (I will send him the link by email, as to be sure he gets it)

    Oh, yeah, that's right. Mr.Flanagan can tell that the three amigos in 2004 are faking it. Look, they are faking it!

    What a country of experts!

  8. Hey Chet?

    Do Flanagan or Duffy count as knowledgable persons, or is this just more leftist cherry picking nitpickers?

    Who did you say supported Mr. Harper's version of the facts?

  9. Let's say we take Harpo at his word that he never envisioned leading a coalition in 2004, instead, his preferred course of action, the one he followed in 2005, was to force an unnecessary and opportunistic election.

  10. That's a shame. Abandoning the field to the likes of chet and fverhoeven is just going to make it that much more unpalatable. And the material for comic relief is going to be unmatched. Reconsider.

  11. I do think it's possible that we're all being too hard on the Prime Minister. Many of us are assuming that the Prime Minister is utterly contemptuous of the way our system of government works, but maybe he's just utterly ignorant of the way our system of government works.

    Hanlon's razor everyone.

  12. Open letter to Mr.Flanagan:

    Let me explain it this way, so it might be easier to understand for everyone, including parliamentary experts and the likes:

    Let us say Harper wins a minority government again, similar to the last one, and such government falls on a cofidence motion on the presented budget (same as the one we had) and the NDP/Lib coalition forms government with "coalitional support" from the BQ.

    The CHT (Canada Health Transfer) negotiations with the Provinces are now in full swing and, in order to reach a deal with ALL the Provinces, some of the BQ demands in the CHT will not be met. You can count on it that the BQ will NOT support the Coalition Federal Government on this, so the House may fall UNLESS the Conservative with MORE seats in the House than the LIB and NDP combined, must therefore prop up the Coalition Government, otherwise the Coalition NDP/LIB government will fall, soon.

    So, are the parliamentary experts saying that the BQ will support the LIB/NDP coaltion government in case the LIB?NDP coalition government does not include everything the BQ demands?

    Or, are the parliamentary experts saying that the Conservatives, who would hold a greater seat count in the House than the LIB?NDP combined, should prop up the coalition government?

    I know for certain that the BQ so-called ""support" of a LIB/NDP coalition will not last long (even when it is in writing and signed as it was in 2008) if the Coalition LIB?NDP government goes against BQ's list of demands.

    Who must the federal government negotiate on behalf of? Would the federal government (coalition style or not) negotiate on behalf of the federation, or would the federal government netotiate on behalf of the Quebec people???

  13. As Martin puts it today? Martin is anti Harper and always has been. Soon the G&M needs to apply for third party election spending, for they are sure entered as supporting one candidate openly and publically. The voters in Canada have a right to know how much the G&M spends on advertising for Ignatieff and the Liberals.

    Wake up Canada. This not a federal party election; this is a media contest.

  14. It is stange, isn't it Be_rad, that as soon as the real debate begins, most drop out of these discussions. Too serious? You mean, this should all be just entertainment, like so many here are dropping in to post a quick anti-Harper post and then go on to the Catch 22 webpage to play with the comrades………..Such a mature country we have.

  15. If the mythical "LIB/NDP coalition" concluded the CHT negotiations without caving in to BQ demands, why would the Cons not support it? Surely they wouldn't want to plunge the country into yet another unnecessary and oppoertunistic election, would they?

  16. :)))))

    And you believe the Canadian voter will stand by and let the combination of two parties with LESS seats than the party with the most seats won, decide the course of the negotiations? So you believe, the party which won the MOST seats must stand on the sidelines to come in when the parties with LESS seats combined run the show?

    And you consider that all to be by conventional Canadian parliamentary standards? Brave new world indeed.

  17. Not to mention that Harper's explanation of the GG having some sort of third option is patently false.

  18. Mr. Flanagan knows, and I'm sure that he knows that Steve knows, that there was no third option. The GG could either have an election or ask Harper to try to form government. There is no third option. Never was. Harper's story doesn't stand up to scrutiny. It's an invention, a fabrication.

  19. So you're saying the Conservatives would bring down an agreement, not because they disagreed with it, but because they didn't get to "decide the course of the negotiations?" Yeah, that sounds about right.

  20. Come on! Let's get real!

    The same tactics have been played out over and over again. Through the back door, so many now try and pin everything on Harper but by going about it backwards.

    You see, the issue here is that a coalition of parties combined with LESS seats will be forming government over a party with MORE seats and if such party with MORE seats were to complain about such a strange situation, it would the the party complaining about such scewed arrangement who would be blamed for objecting to the strange sort of arrangement.

    Such sheninigans have been going on since 2008, when Harper had challenged the forming of a concocted coalition agreement.

    You see, you really cannot have it both ways: either you agree that the BQ is NOT part of any coalition agreement , and therefor a coalition could not be formed (if the numbers add up like in 2008)


    you make up your mind that the BQ IS a partner in the coalition agreement and will not defeat the coalition government, and in such a case the Conservative high seat count does not come into play.

    You will have to make up your mind which way you believe is true. In 2008, was the BQ part of the coalition or NOT????? That remains to be answered by Duceppe and Layton.

  21. and Ignatieff, of course, because signing on last DOES count.

  22. You really want to cherry pick that one sentence out of the article? You did note that Flanagan could derive no other explanation out of what Harper was doing?

    Isn't Flanagan one of those knowledgable people that should be supporting your case?

    Let's see, now the only opinion that counts, per your comment, are those who were involved: Layton, Duceppe, and Harper come to mind. I think we understand where they are each coming from. Who else matters to you? It would seem Duffy and Flanagan's opinions don't count…

  23. I'm sorry, but you are un-freakin-believable.

    For the last 6 years a minority government has been making decisions. Whether there is a formal coalition or not, if no-one wins a majority in this election, the situation will be the same. The expectation is that either the Conservatives or the Liberals will somehow manage to form a government.

    Whoever forms the government, will have to bring any changes to the CHT to the House to be voted on. It will pass or fail based on support or lack of support of a majority of MPs.

    As a Canadian, who understands how our parliament is supposed to work, I am prepared to stand by and let our MPs do their jobs.

  24. Well, I think it would be the most important sentence in the article.

    At this point in time I have no idea what Mr.Flanagan thinks. I cannot look into his mind. Can you?

  25. Since Harpo overthrew the Martin government with the connivance of the socialists and the separatists, to force an opportunistic and unnecessary elections, the Liberals have often supported bills they didn't agree with rather than precipitate another election, but I can see that Our Glorious Leader could never stomach such a course of action. By the way, your hypothetical situation doesn't require the "coalition" to have FEWER, not less, seats than the Cons. It could have a plurality and still be short of a majority.

  26. I don't need to look in his mind. I heard what he said.

    Is he not one of those knowledgable people that Chet would prefer we quote? I think Mr. Flanagan has a great deal of knowledge about the way Mr. Harper thinks and acts.

    I'm sure you do think that is the most important sentence. It allows you to turn a blind eye to everything else Mr. Flanagan said, even though he would have knowledge about the situation.

    Yeah, at the end of the day, it is all a matter of opinion. It is starting to look like it is Mr. Harper's opinion versus everyone else's opinion. Even Mr. Flanagan has trouble swallowing what Mr. Harper is trying to sell.

  27. Who said I am not prepared to let the MP's do their job? Why the need to pull my post completely out of context. Why not debate the real issue I bring up within my post?

    Was the 2008 coalition agreement inclusive of the BQ or not?

    If not, there could not have been a Lib?NDPcoalition government possible (numbers did not, did NOT, warrant it)

    But if you say that the BQ WAS an essential part of the 2008 proposed Lib/NDP coalition, then there would be no problem hatching out a CHTdeal with the other provinces, including the prov of Quebec.

    Just wondering if the NDP/Lib coalition could support the high price of such demand by BQ setting the standards for a CHT accord.

  28. The Flanagan interview was with the National Post. Are they anti-Harper as well?

  29. No, the NP is fairly objective. They are right leaning, yes, but they're not making fools of themselves like the Globe and Mail is doing.

  30. Yes, you heard what Flanagan said and so you don't have to look into his mind for hearing what he has said.

    But since Tom Flanagan says that “I was working for him at the time, but I wasn't INVOLVED in this. I don't KNOW exactly." he is mind reading for the rest of it.

    I wish I had that kind of ability; to not really be there but to be able to mind read. I would be able to hold the world in the palm of my hand. Sorry, it can't be done………

  31. The way Harper keeps flogging this horse, I am beginning to think you may be right. If he knew how it worked, surely he couldn't go out day after day and lie about it – could he?

  32. You CLEARLY do not understand what Harper was doing in 2004.

  33. "real debate"? Our friend MC is leaving because of the heavy handed, often paid, commenting by adherents to the cause. You, for instance, present as unpleasant, torqued beyond all recognition and desparate to pick up bonus money for managing to cause a fuss.

  34. Flanagan knows Harper personally and, for a time, worked with him closely. Unless you can lay claim to the same personal knowledge of the man, I'll take Flanagan's interpretation of Harper's motives over yours any day.

  35. You mean the left-leaning Globe and Mail that has for two elections running thrown its support behind the plagarizing, fraud and bunco team of Stephen Harper? That left-wing media scallywag?

  36. Yeah, really. One would almost think you hold me as being illiterate.

  37. I am sorry to hear that some find my postings unpleasant. But you know, politics is complex, and just posting niceties isn't gonna change things for the better.

    But I try to make it as pleasant as possible. Did you not read my recent posting on the upcoming debate debacle then? Reading that posting will lift your spirits for sure.

    See, I can be pleasant too!

    I don't think bonus money is ever paid out for speaking some plain old truths, or else I would be filthy rich!

  38. My total points keep going up, yet I keep scoring deep into the minuses. I don't understand

  39. I've lived with the same man for 25 years and still couldn't read his mind.

    Come to think of it; I have lived and worked with many people and have never been able to read their minds.

    And since most of Flanagan's remarks are purely based on his 'so-called' mind reading skills, such has and should have become the topic under discussion, not Harper's duplicity. There never has been. All 3 party leaders have said in 2004 that no coalition agreement had been signed. But don't believe me, or anyone else. Listen to what the leaders have to say for themselves. Take the time and listen to the real thing.

  40. http://cpac.ca/forms/index.asp?dsp=template&a

    Oh, and Ignatieff really DID sign the 2008 coalition accord, and you may notice that during the 2008 agreement signing by all parties involved, the Canadian AND the Quebec flag served as props in the background, whereas in the 2004 presentation, only the Canadian flag flanked the leaders on all sides. You can see so for yourself on the video.

    Don't take my word for things. Listen to the video yourself. It is a very, very interesting video.

  41. Posting niceties is not required. Posting ideas in a pleasant manner would be appreciated.

  42. "I've lived with the same man for 25 years and still couldn't read his mind.

    Come to think of it; I have lived and worked with many people and have never been able to read their minds."

    Then perhaps you should apply the same circumspection when imputing motives to Ignatieff.

  43. Maybe you should turn the pages on your calendar. This is 2011, not 2008. No matter what was written in 2008, it is now void. One of the parties to the agreement has withdrawn from it, so it's over.

  44. I love you, Be_rad !


  45. In what regard? To now say that he didn't sign the 2008 coaltion agreement with the NDP and BQ?

    Sorry, I'm not in the mood to make some history rivisions.

  46. That's more like it. Call it as it is. That is all we're asking for.

    If that were to become the view of many when trying to blame things on Harper, than I think the coalition talk could be put to rest.

    The key is to be willing to freely admit that a 2004 coaltion agreement never existed. Thank you, Merrill S

  47. Nor, apparently, to justify your transparently hypocritical disposition toward the two party leaders. While professing inability to read the mind of someone with whom you've lived for 25 years, you seem oddly to have no compunction in reading the minds of politicians you've never met.

    How convenient.

  48. Not at all. Your spelling and grammar are usually quite respectable.


    All duels are off until mid-May, folks. Sorry.

    ::sends gloves to dry cleaners::

  50. Mr.Flanagan knows what Stephen Harper thought at any given time in history?

    Mr Harper claims to know what Mr Ignatieff thinks in the future. So does most of his party, and his party's supporters.

    Decide which way you want it, and get back to us.

  51. No replies. Is it a civic holiday?

  52. Thank you, Halo_Override So is yours. And it all helps!

  53. We hardly know each other; let's date first.

  54. But what would be the fun in dating if the person to be dated isn't to be loved first?

    Dating may only tell us that we can love each other even more!

    I'll see when my agenda frees me up

    ttyl, Be_rad


  55. Your points are mostly based on the amount of posts you make, not necessarily your thumbs up/down. If you post more, it offsets any negatives. That's how come a chatty cathy like you isn't in the negatives.

  56. I've always been under the impression he has no idea how our system of government works. Early on he referred to "his administration".

  57. Can't work like that. I score at least -3 in most posts and up to -29 on some. So it won't make sense.

    And the name isn't chatty cathy; it catchy cathy! as in: catch me if you can!

  58. Mike Duffy and the CTV are jokes! The conservative owned CTV is the biggest supplyer of Senators/Mps in Canada! Pam Whallen, Mike Duffy, Bev Oda and lets throw in Ben Mulroneys gig at CTV to boot. CTV reporters do not aspire to be great reporters, they aspire to be conservative senators!

  59. I think someone has hacked FV's account…

  60. Number of posts is a significant factor in determining points, although thumbs does have a modest impact.

    The formula 'is': Points = 16.5 * ln(Posts) – 25

    So the first 30 points are easy (about 30 posts), the next 30 are not so hard (about 170 additional posts or so), the next 30 points are still achievable (needing yet another 800 posts). But then, to go from 90 to 120, that needs real determination, such as CR who has 6000 posts to get to 118 points.

    In lieu of payment for the research, please make a donation to the Red Cross (Japan). ;-)

  61. I confess to a touch of whiplash.

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