rough notes

Doing my part.

with one comment

This comes a little late, but I feel like it’s part of “doing my part” so it will be posted anyhow.

A lot of people have posted scanned images of Stephen Harper’s letter to the former GG, Adrienne Clarkson, in 2004. This is the letter which signaled that he would be willing to work with other opposition parties, including the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois, to form an alternative government if the Liberals under Paul Martin were to be defeated in a vote of non-confidence. The betrays the Conservative Leader’s belief that when the opposition in the House (i.e. not the party who is the Loyal Opposition, but all opposing parties) constitues a majority of the seats and has approved a vote of non-confidence in the sitting government, at the very least the Loyal Opposition has a right to consultation with the Governor General so that all “options” should be considered. These “options”, of course, imply a change of government between elections, as often happens in minority parliament situations.

At any rate, the problem with posting only a scanned image of this letter is that googlebots and other search engine spiders (sorry, gillis) are prevented from reading the text in the image. The spiders (again, sorry) will only read zeroes and ones instead of the text that we can see with our eyes, which prevents the post, and effectively the Conservative Leader‘s words from being properly indexed.

So, I’m transcribing the letter, which I found in Garth Turner’s post on this issue. I don’t always agree with Turner, and I think he’s a bit of a showman, but I also think he’s a principled character and was likely a great representative to his constituents – whether his tie was blue or red.

For what it’s worth, many others have already done the same, include Maclean’s Magazine, the Libs themselves, and this other blogger.

Stephen Harper’s words, while residing in the Office of the Prime Minister, 4 Dec 2008:

And you know, let me just say this. I, you know, I have met many times with Mr. Duceppe. I have listened many times to Mr. Duceppe and his party. We have in fact responded through policy to requests that Mr. Duceppe and his party have made, but as prime minister I have never put myself in a position where I would be beholden to the Bloc Quebecois for the governing of the country. And I don’t think if everybody sits back, that any prime minister or potential prime minister in any party would want to be in that situation. I just think that it is not good for the country, I think it is very, very risky for the government in power.

Stephen Harper’s letter of 9 Sep 2004 to Adrienne Clarkson, signed with Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Quebecois and Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party:

September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1


As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government’s program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.


Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Gilles Duceppe, M.P.
Leader of the Bloc Quebecois

Jack Layton, M.P.
Leader of the New Democratic Party

You can see for yourself how the Conservative Leader is at best skating on thin ice here. This is what rankles me the most about the entire fiasco. I don’t care what the leaders’ political stripes are nor what my political leanings are relative to them. This a matter or principles, and a matter or ethics. The Conservative Leader has consistently said one thing and then done another for well over two years now, and I’m fed up with it. I’m especially displeased how he, his party, and his caucus has repeatedly used hyperbole such as “treasonous”, “traitors” and “seditious” to describe the NDP and the Liberals, only to have to hear from the Conservative Leader’s mouth on the very day of the prorogue words to the effect of, “We’d like to work with the Opposition and are waiting for them to come to the table.” Frankly, I wouldn’t want to dine with some one who calls me a seditious bastard with the left side of his mouth and then out of his right wonders aloud why I don’t want to sup with him. And I can hardly expect any of leaders of the Opposition, be it Layton, Duceppe, Dion, or Ignatieff to want to do the same.

Stephen Harper Letter To Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson, 2004


Written by mitchellirons

December 11, 2008 at 5:21 pm

One Response

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  1. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to dine with some one who calls me a seditious bastard with the left side of his mouth and then out of his right wonders aloud why I don’t want to sup with him. And I can hardly expect any of leaders of the Opposition, be it Layton, Duceppe, Dion, or Ignatieff to want to do the same.

    They don’t. Don Newman asked Michael Ignatieff if he’d accept an invitation for coffee at 24 Sussex, to which he chortled, “There are other things I’d rather be doing.” As you say, it’s hard to blame them.

    William Matheson

    December 12, 2008 at 7:12 am

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