HarperLeaks: The Complete Collection of Damaging Stephen Harper Quotes

A nearly 500-pages long document by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own Conservative Party collecting damaging quotes has been released to the public.  The Harper Quotation database was prepared by Conservatives to help prepare for positions on which Harper could be attacked.  It’s release should spell trouble for the Conservatives, especially if opposition parties use it effectively to hold his record to the microscope.

The cover page states,

Dear Nancy,
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 to potential to be the most problematic are the quotations dealing with health care.

HarperLeaks – The Complete Quotes Dossier

A sample of some of the highlights, via CBC:

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 5 – on health:
“The federal government doesn’t run the health-care system, it didn’t create it and it’s not going to fix it.” April 12, 2001

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 9-10 – on health:

“Part of my skepticism with the Romanow Commission,” he said, “is the idea that you can somehow just do a study and consult a lot of people. Ultimately, there is going to have to be experimentation and working with some solutions to find out whether they pan out or not.” (no date – from Toronto Star article called “New Alliance leader rips health care…” The Romanow Commission delivered its final report Nov. 28, 2002)

-From the July 22, 2003 update, page 5 – on the Liberal Party:
“The fundamental strategy of the Liberal party for the last 30 years remains screw the West, get the rest.” – 06/2003 (date partially cut off)

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 4 – on MP pay:
“Most MPs are bit players in today’s parliamentary system, with the average backbencher merely acting as an ombudsman for constituents on non-partisan issues and as a local sales representative for his/her political party on the big issues. That’s why we believe that before MPs demand more money, they should reform the system and give themselves a role that’s deserving of more money.” (Sept. 1, 1998)

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 18 – on social conservatism:
“We need to rediscover Burkean or social conservatism because a growing body of evidence points to the damage the welfare state is having on your most important institutions, particularly the family. Conservatives have to give much higher place to confronting threats posed by modern Liberals to this building block of our society.” Jan. 6, 2003

-From the July 22, 2003 update, page 5 – on polls about Iraq war:
“It’s a little harder to read, you know, we have kind of all Liberal media sponsored polls here.” – 03/2003 to Fox News (date partially cut off)

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 8 – on the Iraq war:
“We should not rule out any options. The Prime Minister’s position today seems to be exactly our position.” – Jan. 8, 2003 (not ruling out intervention without UN approval)

-From the July 22, 2003 update, page 6 – on Canada Post:
“The real problem is the double monopoly in postal service. The government gives post office management a monopoly over Canadians’ mail, and then Canada Post gives CUPW union bosses the labour monopoly power to shut the service down… Only ending the monopoly will ensure that Canadians are never held hostage by another postal strike.” – 02/1997 (date partially cut off) 9.

-From the Jan. 7, 2004 update, page 12 – on health:
“The solution is to have a healthcare system where people pay some of the costs themselves.” “If we had a healthcare system based on insurance and we paid for these services out of our own pocket, this would be a non-issue.” – referring to what the article’s writer called broad-brush swipes at people whose behaviour is deemed costly (March 22, 1999)

-From the June 26, 2003 update, page 11 – on election advertising laws:
“Studies have shown over and over again that people can hear political ads in all kinds of volume and make up their own mind. This whole idea that the voters can’t decide, and the voters might vote wrong is a fundamentally undemocratic notion.” – May 10, 2000

-From June 26, 2003 update – page 2 – on the UN and NATO – this was on Politics with Don Newman:
“I think the UN security Council, the role that some had hoped it would play post-Cold War, is dead. Not just because of this but because of Kosovo. NATO’s role is also in doubt.” 04/2004 (date cut off)

-From original Harper Quotations database – April 17, 2003 – p. 227 – on being a career politician:
“It has never been my intention to seek a second term or to become a career politician.” May 10, 1996

“I can state categorically that I would not be a candidate in any future leadership contest … The decision to run again would have meant that I was making politics my career … I’ve been at this particular game for over a decade and on a personal level I feel it’s time to get some broader experience outside Parliament. Parliament is already dysfunctional … The last thing that Parliament needs is to be filled with people who have never done anything but partisan politics.” May 10, 1996

-From June 26, 2003 update – page 1 – on an Ipsos poll showing only 15 per cent of Canadians thought Canada should contribute troops to a unilateral attack on Iraq:
“I don’t give a damn about the polls.” 04/2003 (date cut off)

-From June 26, 2003 update – page 1 – on John Manley and the Liberals opposing the US invasion of Iraq:
“I mean, this is a communications tactic worthy of Saddam Hussein.” 04/2003

-From June 26, 2003 update – page 3 – on the CBC:
As published in the Langley, B.C. AdvanceNews: ‘Harper accused Chrétien’s Liberals “and frankly some elements of our national broadcasting corporation” of apparently wanting to prove that “the America of George Bush is not better than the Iraq of Saddam Hussein”.’ April 11, 2003

-From Aug. 28, 2003 update – page 1 – on Alberta:
“We [Alberta] are the only province in Canada keeping pace with the top tier countries in the world. Now we must show that we will not stand for a second-tier country run by a third-world leader with fourth-class values.” 02/2001

-From Aug. 28, 2003 – page 3 – on Elections Canada and then-Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley:
‘”The jackasses at Elections Canada are out of control.” Please excuse my language, but when I learned Elections Canada’s bureaucrats have pressed charges against a Canadian citizen, I just blew my cool. That is the exact language I used … This is not the first attack on freedom by Elections Canada. Its heavy-handed chief, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, has been an advocate of the most minute of controls and regulations – and stiff punishments – on every aspect of “free” elections.’ 08/2001

-From Aug. 28, 2003 – page 3 – on Elections Canada and then-Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley:
“Simply put, Kingsley is a dangerous man. It is appropriate that journalists have dubbed him Canada’s ‘Chief Electoral Ideologue’ and ‘Chief Electoral Nanny.'” 08/2001

-From Aug. 28, 2003 supplement, page 7 – on the Wheat Board:
‘On the prairies, we [NCC] demand marketing freedom for farmers. The Soviet-styled Canadian Wheat Board monopoly has suppressed free enterprise and value-added production for too long … Let’s unshackle western farmers from the CWB. That’s the only real “Farm Crisis” solution.’ 02/2000

-From Jan. 7, 2004 supplement, page 4 – on Reform and Quebec: “I don’t think anybody, frankly, in this party is very scared about pissing off the Bloc.” June 7, 1996

-From Jan. 7, 2004 supplement, page 4 – on the Canadian Alliance: “This political party stands for values that are eternal … this country will either adopt our values or it will fail.” Dec. 20, 2001

*Note – John Baird said on April 5 that Harper was different from Ignatieff because “he’s never criticized Canadian peacekeepers.” It was in response to a question about both leaders having made (years ago) remarks about Canada that could be construed as negative.

-From Jan. 7, 2004 supplement, page 11 – on peacekeeping in Rwanda:
“I’m not being facetious these people are disappointed that the Hutu are returning home and there’s no longer any need for them to be saved by Canadians … They [the Liberals] launched the mission purely on the basis of television footage … and mined it for public relations purposes.” Dec. 9, 1996 (Context note provided by Conservative staffer says “The Leader discusses the debacle that was the UN involvement in Rwanda. Being overly critical of a military deployment may be considered a bit rich considering our advocacy on behalf of the liberation of Iraq.”).

-From Jan. 7, 2004 supplement, p 13 – on health:
“The Canada Health Act must be opened up. The federal government is playing an entirely negative role in health care.” Jan. 19, 2002

-From April 11, 2003 Harper Quotations, p. 11 – on western alienation:
“I too am one of these angry westerners. The Liberals demonized the West and Alberta in particular … we may love Canada, but Canada does not love us … let’s make the province strong enough that the rest of the country is afraid to threaten us.” Dec. 18, 2000

-From April 11, 2003 Harper Quotations, p. 43 – on bilingualism:
“That special status is needed to protect the French language in Quebec is simply false.” Jan. 20, 2002

-From April 11, 2003 Harper Quotations, p. 54 – on the Canada Pension Plan:
“Low and middle income Canadians are the ones who fund the Canada Pension Plan now. They seem to have the money to do it. If they have the money to provide government with pensions, why don’t they have the money to invest it themselves? I think there’s a fundamental contradiction here.” Feb. 23, 1997

-From April 11, 2003 Harper Quotations, p. 121 – on universities:
“I think we’re vastly over-invested in universities. Universities should be relatively small and provide excellent education and research in a number of specialized areas. I think the vast majority of young people should be going through non-university, post-secondary training.” Sept. 15, 2000

-From April 11, 2003 Harper Quotations, p. 138 – on immigration:
“You’ve got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.” Jan. 22, 2001

Joan Bryden offers more comparison points at The Canadian Press,

On the campaign trail now, Harper stresses that he has no hidden agenda to reopen the abortion file. But the Tory files include this 2002 boast from Harper, then a leadership contestant: “I’m not ashamed to say that, in caucus, I have more pro-life MPs supporting me than supporting Stockwell Day.”

Harper is insisting now that he can erase the deficit by 2014 simply by cutting $4 billion a year in wasteful and inefficient spending. But in 1995, he said it would be impossible to eliminate the deficit without slashing social programs, which he noted account for two-thirds of federal spending.

“We would have to look at everything, you can’t spare anything,” he said then.

Then there’s his 1995 assertion that “providing for the poor is a provincial, not a federal responsibility.”

Since becoming prime minister, Harper has tried hard to woo Quebec, including masterminding a parliamentary motion recognizing the Quebecois people as a nation. But the quote dossier has numerous reminders of Harper’s past refusal to countenance any type of special status for the province.

In 1992, he railed against a proposal to ensure Quebec a 25 per cent share of seats in the House of Commons, regardless of the province’s share of the population.

“In fact, what’s even more repulsive than the 25 per cent guarantee is the giving 18 new Commons seats to Quebec, which isn’t even on the basis of population.”

And in 1999, he argued that Quebec’s language law was designed “to suppress the basic freedoms of English-speaking Quebecers and to ghettoize the French-speaking majority into an ethnic state.”