On April 26, 2011, the Liberal Party of Canada released a binder of controversial quotes from Conservative Leader Stephen Harper’s past. There is certainly no shortage of websites listing quotes from Stephen Harper, from wikiquote to UnseatHarper.ca. What makes this collection unique is not only its depth and breadth (500 pages), but also the fact that it was prepared by the Conservative Party.
According to the Toronto Star’s article, Stephen Harper’s most controversial quotes compiled, the research for this binder began in 2003. In his book, “Harper’s Team,” Tom Flangan wrote “When I became chief of staff in 2003, one of the first things I did was organize a ‘Harper research’ program to collect everything he had ever written or said in public.”
The binder itself, which can be downloaded from the Liberal Party website, begins with a coversheet that reads:
Attached is the latest supplement to the Harper Quotation database. Mike has told me that the higher ups no longer what [sic] the database transferred electronically, so unfortunately a hard copy is going to have to do. There’s nothing really new here, it’s pretty much a collection of previously expressed opinions and sentiments worded in a slightly different manner. Those that have the potential to be the most problematic are the quotations dealing with health care.
The quotes found in the binder reinforce Stephen Harper’s pro-Alberta stance and takes many shots at the rights, history and culture of Quebec and Canada’s Aboriginal People.
The third section of the binder (which appears to be the original database, which was later updated through two supplements) is sorted by topic and includes some of the following quotes from Stephen Harper.
January 6, 1997: “…in other cases, there are cases of simple parental neglect or irresponsibility.”
Ethic Voting Liberals
January 20, 2001: The majority of Liberal voters west of Winnipeg are “recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada; people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.”
August 17, 1997: “...The best system means having a system where you have as many tiers as possible….when you have a private second tier alternative…you have a strong incentive for the public system to be maintained at a higher quality of service…”
April 6, 2001: They represent mere “alternative dictatorial choices.”
Federal vs. Provincial Government
April 6, 2001: “Ottawa rates from useless to dangerous to Alberta”
April 15, 1991: Excerpt from story in Maclean’s magazine: “As for Quebec’s demand that Ottawa transfer most of its powers to the provinces, Reform’s chief policy officer, Stephen Harper, told the gathering [the party's biennial convention in Saskatoon] that, if that were the case, he might prefer a Canada without Quebec altogether. The Reform Party, he added to a chorus of cheers, was committed to ‘a strong country built by those who want in – not those who want out.’”
October 23, 2002: Stephen Harper raises on a point of order to respond to Svend Robinson (an openly gay member of Parliament from the NDP) on a point about cabinet ministers having their mug shots in police stations. Harper says: “Mr. Speaker, I am sure the picture of the hon. member [referring to Mr. Robinson] of the NDP is posted in much more wonderful places than just police stations.” This quote comes along with a handwritten note in the margins of the document indicating that “NDP will use this citation to paint S.H. as anti-gay/homophobic.”
The document even contains a section called “Contradictions” relating specifically to the “Unite the Right” initiative that was underway at the time this document was initially created. However, the release of this binder certainly paves the way for the creation of a much longer list pointing out contradictions between his past statements and current party policy.
These examples only scratch the surface of this big blue book of controversial Stephen Harper quotes. The question is, will this prevent some Canadians from voting in more bench warmers for Stephen Harper? (In his words: “Let’s face it, the average backbench MP is little more than a bench warmer for his/her political party.”)
Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.
Photo credit: TeddyBoy on flickr