Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Harper denies discussing coalition plan

Harper denies discussing coalition plan
Stephen Harper is rejecting claims by his political rivals that he was keen on forming an opposition coalition in 2004—the very idea he’s railing about in this election.

Bloc Quebecois Gilles Duceppe and NDP Leader Jack Layton say the concept of a coalition was clearly on the table when they met with Harper in August of 2004 to discuss the fate of Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government elected just two months earlier.

But on Monday, Harper accused his two political rivals of rewriting history.

“Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Layton can try all they want to change the 2004 story,” Harper said during a campaign stop here.

“We are in 2011 and in 2011 Mr. Ignatieff’s position is that he can lose this election, go to the Governor General and say that with the NDP’s and Bloc Quebecois support he can form a government even though he lost,” he said.

In fact that’s the very scenario Layton and Duceppe claim that Harper was trying to orchestrate in 2004.

Harper signed a letter in August 2004 with Layton and Duceppe to then-governor general Adrienne Clarkson urging her to consult with them first if Martin requested dissolution of the Commons.

The letter urged Clarkson to consider “all of your options” if Martin had come to her seeking another election.

Speaking Sunday, NDP Leader Jack Layton confirmed the word “coalition” was explicitly mentioned in the discussions held between the three opposition leaders, even if it was never spelled out in the letter.

“That letter was designed to illustrate that such an option is legitimate in Canadian constitutional traditions and there was no question about it,” Layton said.

The NDP leader said it was “crystal clear” in 2004 that Harper was trying to become prime minister “even though he had not received the most seats in the House.”

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