Cooperation if necessary, but not necessarily cooperation

From the Prime Minister’s interview with the National Post.

Ivison: Talking about a more bi-partisan Parliament, what steps are you personally going to take to ensure that? For example, during the election, the idea that the justice package was a matter of confidence — are you in a position now to say that only money bills are measures of confidence, given your focus on the economy?

Harper: I wouldn’t go that far. Obviously the economy is everyone’s number one priority. It would be unwise for a prime minister to say he would narrow the range of confidence measures unilaterally, if the opposition parties would not be prepared to do exactly the same thing. I don’t want to be in a position where I would say only one or two or three things would be confidence while they would get up and say: “we reserve the right to bring forward a motion of confidence on every thing.” I think if we could get together and agree that a narrow range of things would be confidence — that would be useful to the functioning of this Parliament. I haven’t had that kind of discussion with Mr. Ignatieff and that would be a judgment he would have to make. But I do think that Canadians want to see Parliament work. We’ve had three elections in four years. They especially want to see it work when everyone knows jobs and futures are on the line. And I also think they believe that the country’s two major parties, who have been in government, who understand what it means to govern, would exercise some degree of common sense and collaboration and not make outrageous demands that they know one or the other couldn’t possibly meet. 

Cheers to Mr. Harper if he managed to say that last bit with a straight face.

(Students of Parliamentary tradition can probably better judge the Prime Minister’s interpretation of Parliamentary confidence. I confess confusion.)