'That's not the question'

The text of Peter Mansbridge’s questions and the Prime Minister’s responses on the matter of Afghan detainees and what, if anything, that matter had to do with the proroguing of Parliament.

Mansbridge. What do you say to those, outside of the political process, who look at what’s happened here, second time in a year, different circumstances in both cases, but the argument being made by many, I mean, you know you can’t pick up a story on this issue, without somebody referring to the Afghan detainee issue, saying that that’s really the reason, you and your government wanted to stop the investigative work of the committee.

Harper. I think polls have been pretty clear, Peter, that that’s not on the top of the radar of most Canadians.

Mansbridge. No, but that’s not the question.

Harper. What’s on the radar is the economy. As I say, the government is looking at, the first thing we’re going to do when we come back is have the second stage of our economic action plan, a budget, new financial measures, that’s our focus. We’re in a very different kind of economic year and that’s what we’re adjusting to. I’m sure the opposition will, you know, they’ve been on that subject for three or four years now, I’m sure they’ll continue on it.

Mansbridge. Is it not legitimate to wonder, whether or not, just because it’s not on the radar of most Canadians, showing up in public and, one assumes, internal polling, that that means it’s not important?

Harper. Well, obviously, we have a a big difference of opinion with the opposition as to whether that is an issue that warrants attention or not, but as I say, the decision to have a new session of Parliament after a year is not unusual. Last year’s circumstances were unusual, I think everybody concedes that. This year’s circumstances are, frankly, quite normal. As Prime Minister, I think my sessions of Parliament have been a year or slightly over a year, so this is fairly standard procedure. And I don’t think it makes sense for a session of Parliament to go on and on without the government periodically reexamining its overall agenda.

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