PM ‘shameful’ in portraying crisis as national unity issue, former NDP leader says
December 3, 2008
Former NDP leader Ed Broadbent speaking in Toronto Wednesday. (CBC)
To save his own government, Stephen Harper is deliberately trying to deceive Canadians about the facts surrounding a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent said Wednesday.
In an interview with CBC News in Toronto, a furious Broadbent had harsh words for the prime minister, saying Harper was also trying to pit English Canada against Quebecers in his attempt to discredit the proposed coalition to replace him if the Conservative minority government falls.
“I’ve never seen the leader of a Conservative party, certainly not Bob Stanfield, certainly not Joe Clark, lie — I choose the word deliberately — the way Mr. Harper has,” Broadbent said.
The former NDP leader, who helped negotiate Monday’s deal between the New Democrats and the Liberals with the support of the Bloc Québécois, said Harper also lied when he said the three opposition leaders refused to sign their agreement in front of a Canadian flag because Gilles Duceppe, a Quebec sovereigntist, objected.
In fact, there were at least two flags present at Monday’s signing ceremony, as well as a painting of the Fathers of Confederation.
Broadbent said Harper is conducting a “shameful operation” by trying to turn certain defeat in the House of Commons into a national unity crisis.
“I’m concerned I have a prime minister who lies to the people of Canada and knows it,” Broadbent said. “It’s one thing to exaggerate. It’s another to deliberately tell falsehoods.”
The former NDP leader also accused Harper of lying about the details of the proposed coalition, including his charge that the Bloc Québécois is a formal partner and that six Bloc MPs would be offered Senate positions under the coalition government.
The Bloc has said it will support the Liberal-NDP coalition for 18 months in the House of Commons, but none of its members will sit in a cabinet led by Stéphane Dion as prime minister and a Liberal as finance minister.
“They make it up,” he said of Harper’s Conservatives, who have been quick to label the proposal a “separatist coalition.”
“They lie. They pay people to destroy things.”
Clark, Stanfield ‘would have done the proper thing’
Broadbent said he understood how some Canadians are furious to watch politicians fighting while the economy continues to be battered.
“I have no doubt that is how they see it in the short run, but we are doing what should be done in a parliamentary democracy,” he said.
“They’re trying to turn a serious economic situation into a political crisis. We will say we objected because there is a serious economic situation for Canadians.”
The opposition’s proposed economic stimulus package, Broadbent said, contains similar measures to ones planned by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama in the wake of the global economic crisis.
“Other countries are doing it and we should be doing it here,” he said.
He said Harper was betraying the honourable legacy of past party leaders by continuing to delay a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The prime minister pushed back the confidence motion brought by the opposition parties until next Monday and could delay a vote indefinitely by proroguing Parliament.
“I had, my predecessors had a sense of integrity. Bob Stanfield, a Conservative, Joe Clark, a Conservative, had a sense of integrity,” Broadbent said.
“They would have done the proper thing. If we lost the confidence, then we would accept that and have to resign.”
Day denies report of 2000 coalition plot with Bloc
Former Alliance leader once told reporters, ‘I’m not big on labels’
December 3, 2008
Federal Trade Minister Stockwell Day denied on Wednesday he was aware of a secret plan in 2000 for him to take power through a formal coalition between the Bloc Québécois, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives.
Trade Minister Stockwell Day speaks during Wednesday’s question period in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday that well-known Calgary lawyer Gerry Chipeur, who identified himself as an associate of Day’s and the now-defunct Alliance, sent a written offer to the Bloc and Joe Clark’s Progressive Conservatives before the votes were counted on election day on Nov. 27, 2000.
The 2000 election saw Jean Chrétien’s Liberals win another majority government before the 2004 reunification of the two conservative parties that now comprise Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
The paper said Chipeur’s letter proposed a coalition between the Alliance, the PCs and the Bloc, while a separate document discussed contents of a potential throne speech.
Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe held up the letter during Wednesday’s question period while grilling the former Alliance leader over the alleged plan, as well as over the Conservatives’ apparent willingness to form a coalition with the separatist party in 2004.
“Will he admit that in 2004, and in 2000, he was prepared to make such a deal with the Bloc?” Duceppe told the House.
The Conservatives have lambasted Stéphane Dion’s Liberals for entering into a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition government with the support of the Bloc if Harper’s minority government were to fall, portraying the pact as undemocratic and a threat to national unity.
Day replied that the report was a “complete fabrication” and that he had never seen the letter, never endorsed it and would never sign such a deal.
“It would be against my very DNA to do a coalition deal with socialists, and it would absolutely go against my heart and the heart of Canadians to do a deal with separatists,” Day told the House on Wednesday, in reference to the current proposed coalition.
In an interview with the Globe, Chipeur played down the importance of the offer, saying he never discussed the matter with Day or with other MPs, and was simply getting ready in the event of a minority government.
But in July 2000, Day indicated a willingness to form political ties with the Bloc if it meant ousting the federal Liberals from power. He said his party’s position was “to be open to anybody who’s interested in a truly conservative form of government.”
“I’m not big on labels,” Day told reporters at the time when asked about a possible coalition to oust Chrétien’s Liberals.
“If there are people who embrace the views of the Canadian Alliance and believe we need a federal government that is limited in size, that respects the provinces and that wants lower taxes, I’m not interested where they may have been in the past politically.”
A Blast from the Past
Tories blasted for handbook on paralyzing Parliament
May 18 2007
The Harper government is being accused of a machiavellian plot to wreak parliamentary havoc after a secret Tory handbook on obstructing and manipulating Commons committees was leaked to the press.
Opposition parties pounced on news reports Friday about the 200-page handbook as proof that the Conservatives are to blame for the toxic atmosphere that has paralyzed Parliament this week.
“The government’s deliberate plan is to cause a dysfunctional, chaotic Parliament,” Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale told the House of Commons.
New Democrat Libby Davies said the manual explodes the Tories’ contention that opposition parties are to blame for the parliamentary constipation.
“So much for blaming the opposition for the obstruction of Parliament,” she said.
“Now we learn, in fact, that the monkey wrench gang have had a plan all along and not just any plan, a 200-page playbook on how to frustrate, obstruct and shut down the democratic process.”
Bloc Quebecois MP Monique Guay said the manual demonstrates the government’s “flagrant lack of respect” for the democratic process.
The opposition demanded that the manual, given to Tory committee chairs, be tabled in the House of Commons.
Peter Van Loan, the government’s House leader, ignored the demand and continued to insist that the Tories want the minority Parliament to work.
He again blamed the opposition parties for its recent dysfunction. He cited various justice bills which have been stalled by opposition MPs in committees for up to 214 days.
“The opposition pulls out every stop they can to obstruct (the justice agenda) and then they get upset when a matter gets debated for two hours at committee,” he scoffed.
But Van Loan’s arguments were weakened by the leak of the manual. The government was so embarrassed and annoyed by the leak, that, according to a source, it ordered all committee chairs to return their copies of the handbook, apparently in a bid to determine who broke confidence.
The handbook, obtained by National Post columnist Don Martin, reportedly advises chairs on how to promote the government’s agenda, select witnesses friendly to the Conservative party and coach them to give favourable testimony. It also reportedly instructs them on how to filibuster and otherwise disrupt committee proceedings and, if all else fails, how to shut committees down entirely.
Some of those stalling tactics have been on display this week.
Tory MPs on the information and ethics committee stalled an inquiry into alleged censorship of a report on the treatment of Afghan detainees. They debated the propriety of the witness list for more than five hours while two critics of the government’s handling of the matter cooled their heels in the corridor.
The official languages committee has been shut down all week after Tory chair Guy Lauzon cancelled a hearing moments before witnesses were to testify about the impact of the government’s cancellation of the court challenges program. All three opposition parties voted to remove Lauzon from the chair but the Tories are refusing to select a replacement, leaving the committee in limbo.
Tories have also launched filibusters to obstruct proceedings in the Commons agriculture and procedural affairs committees and a Senate committee study of a Liberal bill requiring the government to adhere to the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions.
The previous Liberal regime also tried to control the conduct of committees. Former prime minister Jean Chretien even faced a mini-rebellion during his final months in office from backbenchers who chafed at being told what to say and do at committee. They demanded the right to choose their own committee chairs.
But Davies, a 10-year parliamentary veteran, said the Tories have taken manipulation to extremes she’s never seen before.
“They’ve codified it. They’ve set it down. They’ve given instructions.”
Both Davies and Goodale agreed that the recent dysfunction may be part of a long term Tory strategy to persuade voters that minority Parliaments don’t work, that they need to elect a majority next time.
But Goodale predicted the ploy won’t work because Canadians will realize that the Tories are the “authors of this stalemate.”
Goodale said the manual also demonstrates that the government is in the grip of an “obsessive, manipulative mania,” run by a prime minister who has “a kind of control fetish” in which there can’t be “one comma or one sentence or one word uttered without his personal approval.”
They can lie all they want but the truth is coming out. The Present Conservatives have been manipulative and lieing for some time. They are not really conservatives anyway.
The Alliance took them over.
So really what Canadians have is an Alliance Government, not Conservative Government.
The Alliance is just a right wing nightmare.
Similar to George Bush and his Republicans.
Nothing to worry about now is there?
Canadians really need to wake up and stop looking through those rose colored glasses and take a long hard look at what is really happening in their country.
Harper has done nothing to get this kid our of Guantanamo Bay. I guess he must think it is alright to keep this child in prison and torture is just fine.