Two questions for Stephen Harper (III) - Macleans.ca

Two questions for Stephen Harper (III)

by

After interviewing Mr. Layton and Mr. Ignatieff, Peter Mansbridge will sit down with Mr. Harper on Thursday. Assuming that the parameters of our democracy might be a topic raised, here, again, are two questions for Mr. Harper.

1. Earlier in this campaign, 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 for the Governor General 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?