Stephen Harper
4 min

Day 32 so far: reopening Pandora’s box – err, the constitution

At a media availability in Montreal, Jack Layton was asked about how he’ll get the vote out in Quebec (the volunteers are coming in, and we have an organizational strategy); reopening the constitution for Quebec (this can’t go on forever, it's not an immediate concern, and we'll create “winning conditions” – which I will remind you is a politically loaded PQ phrase about separation); getting more doctors (there are both Canadian-trained doctors living in the US and foreign-trained doctors who can be brought into the system quickly and easily, and training new doctors is vital); Bill 101 applying to federal institutions (the same rules should apply, and our bill took key principles and applied them to legislation that pertains to federally regulated workplaces); markets warning about an NDP government (they should love us because of our business proposals); the need for the F-35s (we have great doubts about immediate priority of debates, and we need a white paper on defence policy); a binder of regrettable quotes that he’s made (I'm not aware of one from my team, and I've said unfortunate things from time to time); the Elections Act and the Twitter Machine (we need to review the rules after the election); holes in their platform with respect to doctors (independent economists vetted this – not mentioning that they were friendly economists rather than those with a range of opinions); and the electoral system (it's a strange system that can’t last forever and discourages people from getting involved – which is part of the logical fallacy around electoral outcomes that assumes one election rather than 308 separate ones).

In the town of Asbestos, Quebec, Stephen Harper called on Quebeckers to vote for the local Conservative candidates and elect a majority government. His announcement of the day reintroduced the caregiver tax credit (which is different and less generous than the Liberal proposal). Then it was back to shout-outs for supply management and keeping the asbestos mines open. With that, it was the plea for security, stability and his majority. He then took questions from the media and was asked about Chuck Strahl’s asbestos-related lung cancer and how it squares with his asbestos support, and whether he would change regulations to put it back in Canadian homes (the chrysotile industry can be handled safely, and he wouldn't allow discrimination for the international market), NDP support in Quebec and the constitution issue (we will get a majority, and we have no willingness to reopen the constitution during economic recovery); the Security Council meeting on Syria (we strongly condemn violence, and we will be in close consultation with our allies); the Sarposa prison breakout (we're disappointed, it's a long learning experience, and we'll work with Afghan authorities); the ballooning cost of the F-35s (there are many reports that compare apples to oranges); and more questions on the Wei Young campaign (she answered these questions clearly).

Michael Ignatieff was in Vancouver at the police headquarters and said that you can’t be serious about public safety unless you’re serious about gun control. He brought up the issue of the former ombudsman for victims of crime, Steve Sullivan – a Conservative appointee – calling the Conservatives’ commitment to victims of crime a “$6 million publicity stunt.” He spoke about the platform promises to reform the registry system and took questions from the media. He was asked about the new poll trends (did you see our rallies? Canadians don’t want a left or right government, they want a moderate, compassionate centre – that’s us); his avoiding discussion of the firearms registry in a rural ridings (I talked about it everywhere); UN consideration of Syria (if we were on the Security Council, we’d be at the centre of the action); Layton talking about reopening the constitution (it's irresponsible that he says one thing in English and another in French, and I say we need to show that Canada can get results for Quebec); there being two versions of the story about the soldier who saved him in the Balkans (I was there, not the professor who wrote this article); the Sarposa prison break (it's a black eye, shows the need for a training mission, and we can’t be boy scouts on the issue); how to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (the right approach is to ask how we help victims, and it should be accountable to Parliament, not just a PR stunt); a widespread protest vote against Liberals and Conservatives (I’d have hostile crowds if that were the case); whether people should vote strategically (I want people to vote for us for positive reasons, not simply to vote against someone else); the rant on the anger people feel about Harper and his contempt, and the constitution and Quebec (we need to acknowledge emotion and feeling but not risk opening old wounds); and local BC issues (I know you can’t run the country from Ottawa, I respect the unique culture of BC, and we have the priorities of affordable housing in the lower mainland and rapid transit).

Oh, look – a 2002 government report discouraged the kind of climate-change regulatory approach the Conservatives are now adopting because it would be more damaging to industry with its higher costs and fewer guaranteed results.

Here is the updated response list from MPs on the question of their support for reforming CAMR. No surprise – all the NDP MPs have said yes, there is plenty of Liberal and Green support and nothing from the Bloc or the Conservatives.

Scott Brison gets a personal endorsement from no less than Joe Clark.

The Liberals are giving out PDFs of the full Harper quote binder here.

And here’s a piece that looks at the relationship between Canadians’ degree of political engagement and there being no political satire on the air right now.
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