Tom Flanagan, the former Tory campaign manager and key advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said on Monday that the 2004 “co-opposition” arrangement between his former boss and the leaders of the NDP and Bloc Québécois was seen back then as a potential path to a Tory minority that would not need Canadians’ approval. While Flanagan insisted that the deal was a “perfectly legitimate exercise” that did not constitute a formal coalition, his comments do raise questions about Harper’s effort to brand the opposition parties as coalition-seekers. A 2004 letter addressed to Adrienne Clarkson and co-signed by Harper, Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe urged the then Governor General to consider all options before allowing Liberal PM Paul Martin to call a general election. “We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation,” read the letter. “We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise, this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.”
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.