Two questions for Stephen Harper (II)

In light of what we saw and heard during the first week of the 41st general election, those two questions for Mr. Harper need to be updated.

1. Last week, you explained that when you referred to “options” in the your letter to the Governor General in September 2004, you hoped only that she would give you the opportunity to assure her that you were not intending to defeat the Liberal government. University of New Brunswick professor Don Desserud has quibbled with this understanding of convention, suggesting the only options would have been to call an election or ask the leader of the opposition, in this case you, if he had the opportunity to form a government. Do you believe the Governor General can compel the Prime Minister to work with the opposition parties or do you believe you were given poor advice in 2004?

2. In an essay penned with Tom Flanagan some years ago you spoke favourably of an “alliance” between regional parties and lamented for the “winner-take-all style of politics” in Canada. In 1997, during an interview with TVO, you said if the Liberal majority government of the day was ever reduced to a minority government, there would be an opportunity for one of the other parties “to form a coalition or working alliance with the others.” In 2004, during your news conference with Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton, you were asked if you were prepared to form government and said such a scenario was “extremely hypothetical.” You and your party now argue that only the party that wins the most seats can form government. Why and when did your views change on the functioning of our parliamentary system?

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.