Five years ago, as opposition leader, Stephen Harper said the onus was on the government to work with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois. It was the official opposition’s duty to oppose the government and present an alternative.
Nine months ago, as prime minister, Stephen Harper had come around to a new perspective.
“Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton want to push the Liberal party into a corner where they either vote against the government no matter what, or they are condemned as sell-outs. But the Liberal Party has broader interests than that. The Liberal Party has a long tradition of governing, a long tradition of appealing to a broad sector of Canadians. Smart people in the Liberal Party realize that we’ve got significant economic problems and in a minority Parliament we’re only going to be able to sit down and work together. We cannot do that if the three opposition parties are committed to working with each other … I’m optimistic that the next leader of the opposition may want to look at different kinds of arrangements in the best interests of the country, and I can assure you that it is in the interests of the government to find a consensus, certainly among the federalist parties and certainly among the two major parties, to find things we can agree on in the short term, to do what we can to keep people working, keep us from sliding deeper into the morass that we’re seeing around the world … For now, I think the big national parties should be willing to work together to fix the national economy, and we are more than willing to do that … I hope the next Liberal leader will be willing to sit down with me to have that kind of discussion.”