The Shotgun Blog
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Harper’s Big Tent
Craig Oliver asked Stephen Harper on last week’s CTV Question Period if he was going to crack down on bimbo (or bozo) eruptions within the Conservative Party.
OLIVER: Are you going to get tougher with members of your party who say things which embarrass you and the party and are often off base with what the party stands for? In other words, are you going to refuse to sign their nomination papers so they cannot run as a Conservative?
HARPER: I've already made it clear that if candidates are going to be detrimental to the party during an election campaign, if they don't reflect our views, if they're going to jeopardize the interests of our members, I wouldn't sign nomination papers. But nothing's a perfect world. Anybody can make a quote, whether it's deliberately or accidentally and be spun, so one has to, obviously one has to keep some discipline. One has to use some temperate judgment in how one does that.
Harper’s quote is pretty nuanced: somebody who is an extremist or deliberately detrimental will get the axe, but an accidental misquote requires a judgment call. Unfortunately, the Sun chain took this as evidence of an imminent purge of so-cons or frank talkers, with headlines like “Lippy Tories Told to Zip It”.
Harper set the record straight in the Sun today: as long as you are temperate in your remarks, there is room enough for all in the Tory big tent:
"Recent articles in the Sun have suggested that I intend to restrain the free speech of candidates and MPs who have views different from my own or the Conservative Party's on sensitive issues such as same-sex marriage or abortion. In fact, I stated my position clearly in my convention speech last Friday.
'As Prime Minister, I will bring forward legislation that, while providing the same rights, benefits, and obligations to all couples, will maintain the traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And, as Prime Minister, I will not bring forth legislation on abortion. As your leader, if you disagree with me on these matters, I will not call you stupid or label you a threat to Canadian values. I care less about your views on these matters than whether you are prepared to respect the views of those who disagree with you. And that is why I will always allow all of your MPs to vote freely on matters of conscience.'
Obviously, a candidate who says things which are extreme or damaging to the party's interests will have to be disciplined, but this does not prevent candidates and MPs with differing views from engaging in open, respectful debate, whether that means candidates and MPs who support same-sex marriage, or candidates and MPs who maintain a pro-life position on abortion.
As long as discussion is civil and respectful, there is room for different points of view on these issues in the Conservative big tent.
Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada"
As Harper also said on Friday, this is the Party of Belinda Stronach and Stockwell Day - and both sides better get used to that.
Posted by Joe McCartney on March 24, 2005 | Permalink
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Blinda Stronach and Stockwell Day, are a major part of the Conservative Party of Canada but not the entire party. Although Stockwell is much brighter in politics than Blinda no doubt.Leader Stephen Harper, did make a good point regarding off handed quotes. It's true any person during a quick media interview can do a off handed remark. The difference is when one constantly and purposely makes off handed remarks to the media.This is the type of person Mr.Harper would not sign for the Conservative Party.Canada now has a Conservative Federal Party with many informed and experianced MP's lead by a political smarts and savy leadership MP's to take on the Fed-Liberals.But Canada needs more Conservative media even conservative course's informing young political minded students the history,nature and politics of conservatism.
Posted by: Larry | 2005-03-24 3:04:25 PM
coyne's got their number:
Posted by: anon | 2005-03-26 2:09:47 AM
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