The list of acceptable topics for discussion


The reporters travelling with Stephen Harper have one less subject to consider asking him about each day.

Conservative officials later announced the national Harper tour would no longer take questions on local campaigns. “There are 308 local campaigns and local campaigns can speak to what they are doing locally,” Conservative campaign spokesman Dimitri Soudas said.


The list of acceptable topics for discussion

  1. Cool. I suggest Liberals do the same, one question per week for the fine folks of QMI… subjects to be determined based on recent troubling headlines.

  2. So what is he going to say when reporters ask him about these things?

  3. Does that mean that, at any given campaign stop, the local CPC candidate will be nothing more than a visual prop for Harper's scripted speech?

    Mmmm…pretty good training for life in Harper's caucus.

  4. So, if you really want to ask about volunteer conservative campaign workers…

    I'm a little curious… when will you be asking about Liberal party MP election candidates under criminal investigation? http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/fullcomm

    How about Liberal party senators guilty of fraud? http://www2.macleans.ca/2011/03/11/liberal-senato

    I mean, isn't it a little more important to be asking about MPs and senators as opposed to campaign volunteers planting lawn signs?

    Oops, I forgot…. they're Liberals, so the media's not interested.

  5. I have no comment on your question john. next.

  6. The Senator isn't a Liberal anymore, he got kicked out of the party.

    It's in the link you provide! Way to shoot yourself in the foot.

  7. Harold Albrecht, local candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga was whisked away by a Harper aide and hidden in the kitchen when journalists tried approaching him before the 2006 election.

  8. Here's an idea – JUST STOP COVERING HIM COMPLETELY! Release no video, no stock footage, no sound bytes of any of his speeches. Nothing, nada, rien. An election campaign should be a two-way exercise. If a given candidate is not willing to fully participate by answering questions of concern to local voters they should be shunned!

  9. Not only do I agree with your suggestion, but I also have a fat arse. We're soul siblings.

  10. Hmm…Interesting contrast between left and right on this one…Harper hides the candidates in the kitchen; whereas Joe Biden hides the journalists in the closet.

  11. ”There are 308 local campaigns and local campaigns can speak to what they are doing locally,” … Unless it's the Edmonton Strathcona riding, who won't comment or take interviews re: Sebastien Togneri

  12. He won't answer, but the question then is whether that question counts as one of the precious 4 questions Harper deigns to answer that day.

  13. Fine…..don't ask Harper anything. Not one question.

    Ignore him entirely. No questions, no photos, no show.

    As long as the media acts like a doormat, he'll walk on you.

    I give it 2 days tops before he's begging for questions.

  14. Yes, far be it for a "news" organization to be asking questions about "new" information when they could be asking about old information for which they already know the answer.

    Right here folks, right now. You were here to witness it. SCF has figured out once and for all how newspapers can fix declining circulation for good. Write articles about stuff we already know about. It's so radically insane it's brilliant!

    SCF, I hope you have applied for a patent for this process. It will make you billions!

  15. So no one can ask him about his team.

    And, if the last two campaigns and every by-election in between are any indication, no one can ask local candidates about, well, anything.

    Quite the interesting approach to "connecting with ordinary Canadians", that is. Quite an interesting interpretation of how democracy. One might even call it “An odd (!) understanding of how democracy works."

  16. Welcome to the "Brotherhood of Large Derriers" (err… Sisterhood too?) that proves not all Canadians sit on their brains!

  17. So let me get this straight…. if one of Harper's endorsed candidates (for fun, let's say it is John Baird) suddenly loses on the local campaign trail and pounds the living-Bejesus, snot, and poop out of a reporter (for fun, let's call him Mr. Wherry) just because he doesn't like a line questioning – – – Stephen Harper will actually refuse to take questions on it on the grounds it is strictly a "local" issue? Just asking.

  18. But wait a minute. Weren't they giving a "local reporter" one question? So, the local reporter can't ask about something that might impact on the local campaign? What's he going to ask about–or have they decided not to talk to locals at all?

  19. Baird is all bluster. Wherry would take him.

  20. And if they say "why not?", that's two.

  21. ::rimshot::

  22. Tim Hortons really does unite Canada!

  23. Excellent point… but original point also stands — if "Warrior" Wherry was able to defend both himself, his principles, and his right to speak in those "local" circumstances… would Harper still remain quiet? Or? Would he use it to proffer another bogus assault on the "liberal-media"? My bet… he will only refuse to discuss "local" when it pleases him. Thus, only option for MSM is to refuse to cover him always… unless he will "always" comment!

  24. Or to flesh out Halo's prediction:

    Reporter: "Prime Minister, Have you looked at your local candidate?"

    Harper: We don't discuss local issues. (aside to Dimitri, " where are we?")

    Reporter: "Prime Minister Harper, the local candidate next to you has just caught on fire from that candle, could you please help him with that jug of water on him?"

    Harper: 'There are 308 candidates in this election, I can't comment on every ignition?"

    Reporter: "But sir, won't you help him?"

    Harper: "I stand prepared to help the country, help the country from the challenge of the coalition that seeks to undo our fixed election date law! I stand diligent and focused on this national emergency"

    Reporter: "So you won't help him?"

    Harper: " I believe I just said that"

    Reporter: "Why not?"

    Harper: "Let's pack up Dimitri, looks like we are done early today"

  25. This would make a great cartoon strip

  26. Alternative interpretation:

    Harper does not want to be seen as interfering on local campaigns, and wants each local candidate to speak with their voice to the issues of that constituency. *pause to make sure everyone is still taking me seriously*

  27. Well, Harper could use the same tactics as Ignatieff had used when being asked about the confusion regarding Ignatieff's stand on the coalition. Ignatieff had told a cbc reporter not to do the work for the Conservatives when he was being questioned on his coalition confusion.

    And it seemed to have worked for Ignatieff; immediately the same reporter went to work to do the dirty work for Ignatieff by making the coalition agreement of 2004 the confusing element to be. Every reporter in this country knows that the 2008 coalition agreement is the only one ever to have been signed, but there they went, trying to find something which never existed in 2004.

    See, things are easy for leaders when they know how to reprimand reporters at the right time and reprimand them well.

  28. This election is not about policy or process or local candidates. This election is all about media warfare. Who can sink the lowest for getting the job done. And we all know what the job is which needs to be done.

    Boy, are we missing Danny Williams or what???

  29. I seem to recall a letter with the signatures of the 2004 Three Stooges wildly circulated, and just a matter of tomato-tomatoe can't take the shine off that, FV.

  30. But his foots in his mouth, and his head's up his@55. SC,F makes one fine CON pretzel…

  31. That's Harper's secret solution to all this democracy. If its at all like 2008, his CON candidates are running off their feet avoiding answering questions from reporters and regular citizens all the time — are they going to be boycotting neighbourhood debates again?

  32. Mr.Wells knows no such 2004 coalition letter exists and could therefore never have been signed by anyone.

    Mr.Coyne knows no such 2004 coalition letter exists and could therefore never have been signed by anyone.

    Mr.Ignatieff knows what he signed in 2008.

    Mr.Layton knows what he signed in 2008.

    Mr.Duceppe is well aware, perhaps more than anyone, of what he signed in 2008.

    Mr.Ignatieff and Mr.Layton and Mr.Duceppe all have made their succesful pitches to the members of the media: those being more than willing to buy into the process of deflection rather than reflection. We now know what counts for more to some members of the media, and it ain't a proper understanding of the workings of our federation. But perhaps those members of the media had already given up on the workings of our federation long ago. Then it all makes sense.

  33. In fact I dare Mr.Wells and other members of the media to spell out, in their own words, if the 2004 agreement and the 2008 agreement were even remotely the same in intent.

    I will wait for a personal response coming from any member of the media in that regard. I have lots of time. Canada is waiting too.

  34. So what? Wherry's spent a lot of time talking about what Harper said in 1997 and 2004. So we can't talk about a Liberal senator who was dropped from caucus in 2006, but was found guilty just a couple of weeks ago?!! Yes, just a couple of weeks ago. God forbid we talk about something that happened in March. Better to go chasing after Conservative lawn sign volunteers.

  35. So March 2011 qualifies as "old" in your book? Hello? Lavigne was convicted just a couple of weeks ago.

  36. And if this is so "old", then please point to the time when Iggy has said anything at all about Rodriguez? Anything? Ever? He's never answered a question about his criminally-charged MP.

    The Aaron Wherry Liberal fan club spin machine is working overtime today!

  37. Lavigne was convicted just a couple of weeks ago, twit.

    Stick that in your burlives-pipe and smoke it.

  38. s_c_f has a point above, at least about Rodriguez. It's a bit rich for the press to create controversies and scandals out of local campaign workers under criminal investigation while completely ignoring Liberal candidates under criminal investigation. Not just ignoring; suppressing.

    Harper is right to be suspicious what the media agenda is when such an obvious double standard is at play. When are we going to see some media accountability for these double standards in coverage?

  39. So why hasn't Doug Finley and the other guy been booted out of caucus yet? Why is at least one person who has been charged with cheating on a previous election being allowed to work for the Conservatives on this election?

  40. Wasn't the old media strategy that Harper would ignore the Ottawa media and only talk to the local media wherever he was? Didn't that work out too good?

  41. Local reporters are only allowed to ask hockey and/or music questions.

  42. Just what did Duceppe, Layton and Dion sign in 2008, FV? Keith Boag did a story on it last night on the National. I suggest you go watch it, then come back here and try to explain how wrong you were.

  43. Excellent question, Holly. One the media hasn't been asking either.

  44. And the media covered it. He's not working in the election, he's not part of the Liberal caucus. What's Doug "The Slug" Finley up to this week?

  45. Conservative candidates don't answer questions. I'm not even sure who they're running in my riding this time out. Not Steen again anyway.

  46. thank you, Reverend. I will go watch it right now.

  47. Just curious. Has anyone seen a Conservative lawn sign, particularly in a hotly-contested riding, yet?

  48. "That accord was the basis upon which the Bloc agreed to support a Liberal-NDP government. It was necessary to have a document signed by the Bloc so that the coalition could prove to the Governor General, if necessary, that it had the support of a solid majority of MPs in the House of Commons. "

    It must be nice to use the word 'accord' and 'coalition' randomly, at will, as Mr.Boag tends to do not only within this one paragragh, but does so throughout the entire report. What to think of a report as such? Not much. It is a pathetic case of reporting. The piece is well below standard.

    I couldn't watch the video clip, it wouldn't let me access it, but I'm thinking Harper's side of the story wasn't even entered into the picture. But why let two sides to any story interfere with what needs to be pushed.

  49. It was an excellent piece of reporting. The only thing that the Bloc was part of was an accord to support economic stimulus. The coalition, a formal agreement was between the Liberals and NDP only. You are now in the position of denying verifiable facts because they don't support your ideological leanings.

  50. And here is a real strange thing:

    why is no one willing to discusss the CPAC video in which all three party leaders – Harper, Layton and Duceppe – not only speak entirely and unfiltered for themselves, at will, all three denying they want to form a coalition – but also have as backdrop nothing but Canadian flags at their display?

    Strange how no one is discussing that particular video. In fact, I would say that everyone is trying hard to avoid discussing that particular video.

  51. Definitely, yes I have, although 'lawn' sign isn't quite right, snowbank sign is more………oh, wait a minute, sorry, you wanted a hotly contested riding, can't help you there.

  52. I watched the video…thanks for posting the link – lots of very interesting moments.

    Question: Why do you suppose the three of them felt obliged to followup that press conference with a letter that essentially told the GG:
    – we have been in close consultations
    – if you get a request for dissolution from Martin, we would like to be consulted before you grant that request
    – we also suggest that you should consider all (my emphasis) of your constitutional options.

    General observation: If that version of Harper was running for election today I would give his local candidate way more consideration than I am today.

    Highlight: Gilles Duceppe at about the 44:30 mark.

  53. The media isn't telling Harper's side of the story! Oh dear lord, the injustice!
    Maybe he'll have to tweak his 4 question policy such that he provides the 4 questions.

  54. Thank you, EeeOar for watching the video and posing the question.

    the press conference was to explain what the intent was, namely to inform the GG, that BEFORE Martin would ask for dissolution that the opposition parties could present the possibilities for a better working parliament to the GG which the GG could then keep in mind if Martin would come to visit her, . Since the opposition parties had done just that, to draw up an agreement of what they considered necessary improvements to the working of parliament to be successfull, it had to be read before Martin would dissolve parliament. And the suggested improvements to be implemented could be considered as a constitutional option.

    In fact, Harper opens his address as such: "1st phase of cooperative efforts among opposition parties in upcoming parliament." .."…..the GG to require to consult with all parties before dissolution." He is clearly talking about the suggestions to improve the workings of the House, to adopt the mechanisms they are proposing.

    Notice how Mr.Harper does not address Canadians and Quebeckers separately, whereas both Duceppe and Layton start their address as greeting Canadian AND Quebeckers separately. In fact, Jack greets the Quebeckers before he addresses Canadians.

    This 2004 agreement was never a coalition agreement, nor has it ever been a pre-formation of a coalition agreement. The letter was intended to make some fundamental changes, as suggested by cooperation between the opposition parties, so that the House could function better within minority government settings. And in fact, the Conservative minority government which followed Liberal minority governments, did make some of the changes as requested within the 2004 proposals.

    Yes, I understand, I think, what you are referring to when pointing out Duceppe's remarks at 44:30 , for the PM to be open to consultation.

    And the 2011 budget did include some of the opposition demands. But cooperation with the opposition parties does not mean that ALL of the opposition demands must be met. And furthermore, I have not heard that in 2011 the opposition parties, in cooperation, did approach the PM in good faith to make changes they were seeking collectively.

  55. During the press conference of the 2008 signing ceremonies, Duceppe had this to say:

    "Permanent mechanism for consultation [with the BQ]; this agreement links us to the coalition."

    The 'this' in that case, refers to the permanent mechanism for consultation. So, on an ongoing basis were the BQ to be consulted.

  56. Just have time for a quick reply just now…

    No, the reason the Gilles Duceppe comment at 44:30 was the highlight is because he says "I'm sure that he (Martin) will be very happy!" – Duceppe was, of course, being at least a little bit sarcastic. There are at least a few reasons that I like Duceppe, and his wit is one of the major reasons.

    Anyhoo, I'll try to add some more substantive queries tomorrow.

  57. That 45 minute clip from 2004 creates a certain set of expectations regarding how all political parties (both governing and opposition) should behave in a minority situation. Obviously from 2004 to 2006 Harper was the leader of an opposition party.

    However, from 2006 until today Harper has found himself to be the leader of the governing party in a minority situation. I'm curious to find out how you would rate Harpers behaviour during the last five years, as it relates to your expectations. Ie would you say that Harper did a pretty good job of living up to the expectations outlined in 2004, or did he tend to lose sight of some.many/all of those ideals once he found himself in the PM position.

    Now you and I probably wouold have had somewhat or maybe even largely different sets of expectations – no matter, as I'm asking you to 'score' Harper against the expectations that the 2004 press conference creates in your own mind, not mine. ;-)

  58. Thanks, and nevermind the question. I see some up this evening.

  59. Oh, I agree with you wholeheartedly that Harper's outlook differed when bringing forth suggestion in 2004 as to how to make Parliament more functional and fair for all members of the House.

    As how to rate him now versus then? Well, for most of my life, I have been responsible for making my living out of being in business, meaning that there is a difference between being put
    in charge of actual decision making or being in charge of having to criticize such decisions having been made. One's perspective does indeed change when coming to sit on the other side. And so, yes, I do think Harper has a lot more on his mind than he would have had when being in position of taking the lead in the opposition benches. I completely understand how being a PM can make a man change over time. Being PM of such an undefined "Canadian" landscape, will make the job very difficult indeed. And I think such heavy load was missing off Harper's expression on his face when shown in 2004.

    Harper did not lose sight of all the expectations. Changes to how appointments are made, how elected senators could be elected (he did appoint the one and only elected senator being available), how other guidelines have been set, Kevin Page has been appointed, not every motion is to be a confidence motion as was the case in 2004, sure changes have been made.

    But now I would like to ask you, for such was my beginnings of these posts: why did the media shift attention over to Harper when Ignatieff was being pressured to explain his party's position on coalitions? After having watched the 2004 CPAC tape, are you still of the opinion that the 2004 agreement was a coalition forming agreement or not?

  60. Maybe the best approach here is for me to pose a series of my own questions, and provide my own answers. Obviously you are welcome to provide your own answers as well. :-)

    Is Harper being hypocritical today, in how he talks about the 2008 situation in comparison to the 2004 situation? Absolutely he is. His description of both events is heavily torqued – naturally he attempts to make them look entirely different.

    Were the two situations identical? Absolutely not. I could provide quite a list of differences if you are interested. Situational, you might say!!

    Are the situations so different that it is illegitiamte to try to draw some comparisons? No, I think we can draw some useful lessons, but we have to be willing to take the time to go through the details.

    So do I think the media is wrong to push this apparent inconsistency? No, not really.

    Did Harper rule out a coalition in 2004? No, he didn't.

    Did Harper acknowledge that coalitions are a legitimate, if rarely used, form of government? Yes, absolutely.

    Did Harper mention that a group that wanted to form a coalition would be obliged to mention that during a campaign? No.

    Why did Harper not enter a coalition? Basically because for a coalition to be at all workable one of the conditions is that the parties have some minimum level of policy agreement – there just isn't enough overlap between CPC and NDP.

    Did Harper promote a coalition? No, I don't hink that he did, although by asking the GG to consider all of her options should a dissolution request come her way he managed to get the idea out there without having to explicitly use the coalition word.

    One last one. Is Harper a highly skilled politician? Yes, pretty sure that that is the case.

  61. There were a few occasions in the video where Harper and/or the other two mention that Parliament is supreme, so is seems pretty clear that Harper understands that concept, and fully endorsed it.

    To me it seems that he has forgotten that principle since he has become PM…too bad.

  62. Fair enough!

    Great posting, Eee Oar! Thx

  63. I'm not sure.

    All I can say is that being PM under the current Canadian sets of circumstances cannot be easy – if the sudden onset of grey hair is any indicator.


  64. One thing that's certainly apparant.

    You're not aware of what any of them signed..ever.

  65. I expect that's the next step. He'll only talk to local media, but not answer any questions about the local riding.

  66. Hmmm, after further consideration, you seem to have a more charitable view of the evolution of Harper than I do.

    I would restate your position as "Harper was an idealistic party leader when he was the Leader of the Opposition, too diealistic. Now that he is the PM he fully realizes the burden of governing the country, and for the good of the country, the opposition parties should just give way to his goals."

    Whereas I would sum things up as ""Harper was an idealistic party leader when he was the Leader of the Opposition, a leader who showed some real promise in the areas of reforming how government works. Now that he is the PM he isn't quite as intereted in being slowed down or making other course adjustments by some of those ideas that seemed so good a few yeasrs ago."

    Feel free to edit my two characterizations. :-)

  67. I do so enjoy your posts, EeeOar. That was top-notch.

  68. Absolutely agree about the grey hair. Same for Dubya and Obama.

    Also mostly agree about circumstances, although I do believe that sometimes Harper is his own worst enemy – kicking dogs when they are down, etc.

    Is it time for us to move onto a different comment? ;-)

  69. No, the stress would indeed be quite relentless; I remember seeing a photo-montage of American Presidents before and after their terms that showed exactly the same greying phenomenon.

    I do think that Harper puts a lot of pressure on himself that perhaps previous PM's may not of, or at least to that extent. He certainly wants to be involved in a lot, which would make the job quite demanding.

  70. "Hmmm, after further consideration, you seem to have a more charitable view of the evolution of Harper than I do."

    Yes, that could be so. I have no problem with that at all. That's what elections are all about.

    What I do object to, however, is restating my position. There is no need to do that for I have clearly written down my position over various postings.

    If you, or others, want to counter my position, go right ahead; the more the merrier. But I'm not playing the game of having to defend my position as being rewritten by you or anyone else.

    Harper indeed has tried to change a few things over the years. Sadly, most of the time he gets very little or no co-operation from the House or the overal media.

    I guess one needs to play the "little guy from Shewinigan" in order to get the media on side – you know, the less one tries, the more one is being supported.

    But hey, that may be fodder for another day!

  71. Hey FV, I'm definitely no fan of the "So you're saying that……….." school of debating – occasionally I do see that on these boards – and I understand that my restatement/summarization of what I hoped to be your thoughts could have looked a lot like that technique.

    But that was not my intent at all. I was genuinely trying to capture what I thought might be the 'essence' of your thinking (you do have to admit that a lot of words have been typed here, and it is challenging to keep it all straight), and I obviously did ask you to provide an edit if you thought that I had missed the mark.

    Anyhoo, I'm pretty sure that's gonna be it.


  72. Yes, I do think Harper is putting a lot of pressure on himself. Compared to other PM's he may have been placed 1. into a more complex setting (minority ongoing) and 2. I think Harper has been falsely portrayed from the time he re-entered politics. Even till this day, no one can explain why he has been considered "evil" for all of this time. I think it has been grossly unfair for anyone to have characterized him as such and for the media to have repeated it for so many years. And I think for Harper it has cost him a huge amount of energy to have finally been able to climb out of such unfair characterization. The opposition (with help from certain media corners) have always been able to hide behind the 'evil' markings gone rogue, but now that time seems to have come to an end.

    I hope Harper will be PM of a majority for at least one term, and show us what he can do for Canada. If he gets a majority, I believe he will bring some of our institutions up to 21st century standards.

  73. Thanks!

    Most times it's fun. :-)

Sign in to comment.