Today's episode of Parsing the Prime Minister -

Today’s episode of Parsing the Prime Minister


Thomas Mulcair opened QP this afternoon with a look back to what the Prime Minister had said yesterday about what the United States had or had not requested of this country in Afghanistan after 2014. Mr. Mulcair wondered if Mr. Harper would confirm that Canada has had no contact from the United States about extending the mission. Mr. Harper stood and said that he said he had not received such a request.

The leader of the opposition then moved on to the question of whether or not an extension would be brought before Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister stated: “All of the military missions committed to under this government have come before the House.” However, that is not the case, and he knows it. The last extension in Afghanistan was authorized by the Prime Minister acting alone.

In his seat across the way, Mr. Harper turned to Peter Van Loan with a look of confusion on his face.

Mr. Mulcair continued.

In November 2010, he said to Jack Layton: “The government has never submitted missions that do not involve combat to the House of Commons. This is a training and technical assistance mission, and that is why we are acting on executive authority alone.” Is the Prime Minister going to act unilaterally once again to keep our troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014?

In response, Mr. Harper seemed to make a fairly unequivocal commitment.

Mr. Speaker, once again, as I said, the government has every intention of bringing military missions to the House of Commons.

Mr. Mulcair then sought another unequivocal commitment.

Mr. Speaker, our troops have been in Afghanistan too long already. Canadians have told us that they do not want another extension. They do not want a Prime Minister who vacillates on whether there will be an extension. They want a Prime Minister who respects the role of Parliament, period. Canadians want a clear answer from the Prime Minister. Will he keep our troops in Afghanistan past 2014? Yes, or no?

To this, Mr. Harper appealed to equivocation.

Mr. Speaker, I have made myself very clear. Unlike the NDP, we are not going to ideologically have a position regardless of circumstances. The leader of the NDP, in 1939, did not even want to support war against Hitler.

This drew laughter from the NDP side. Someone helpfully pointed out that the NDP did not exist in 1939.

Okay, CCF, same difference. Parties do change their names from time to time. Our position is to do what is in the best interests of Canada.

Segueing to a question about abortion, Mr. Mulcair followed the Prime Minister’s standard.

Mr. Speaker, so let us speak about Reform party policy.