Harper talking Tory majority

One party’s hand grenade may be another party’s rocket booster. Government opponents worked themselves into a lather Thursday over Stephen Harper’s closed-door pitch for a majority mandate, but others suggest his recent appeal to partisans was no gaffe, but rather a sneak preview of Conservative campaign messaging.

Flowers bloom on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Members of Parliament return from their summer break next week but their work on the Hill could be shortlived.

OTTAWA — One party’s hand grenade may be another party’s rocket booster.

Government opponents worked themselves into a lather Thursday over Stephen Harper’s closed-door pitch for a majority mandate, but others suggest his recent appeal to partisans was no gaffe, but rather a sneak preview of Conservative campaign messaging.

“Do not be fooled for a moment,” Harper told supporters at a private meeting last week ago in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

“If we do not get a majority, the Liberals, the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois will combine and they will form a government. They will deny this ’till they are blue in the face in an election campaign. But I guarantee it, if we do not win a majority, this country will have a Liberal government propped up by the socialists and the separatists.”

The coalition threat has been standard fare in Tory talking points ever since the unloved and unrequited Liberal-NDP deal, propped up by the Bloc, threatened to unseat Harper’s government last November over a misguided economic update.

That makes the new talk of a Conservative majority “a natural extension” of the party line, says author and consultant Bob Plamondon, who chronicled Conservative governments in his recent book “Blue Thunder.”

“They’ve always resisted talking about a majority in the past because of the fear factor of the so-called hidden agenda and what a Conservative government might do,” Plamondon said in an interview.

But Plamondon argues that after winning two elections and spending more than three years in office, Harper is a known commodity. Polls suggest he’s still considered the most trusted leader to handle the economic downturn.

So the coming Tory pitch is clear, said Plamondon:

“If the opposition parties can gang up and force a coalition government, the only way that voters can absolutely prevent that from happening is electing a majority Conservative government. I see it as entirely logical (strategy).”

Tom Flanagan, Harper’s former campaign manager and chief of staff, says the majority message has probably emerged prematurely, but agrees it’s an “inevitable” part of the next Tory election pitch.

The word “majority” was expunged from Conservative campaign messaging in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns after it appeared to scare off voters in 2004.

But Flanagan says it’s a “more powerful pitch” when attached to the coalition scenario.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff treated the new Harper video like a bombshell, saying it unveils the prime minister’s Machiavellian mind.

Harper’s address included a few sharp partisan attacks on “left-wing ideologues” in the judiciary, bureaucracy, Senate and other federal institutions — standard fare on conservative blogs, but seldom voiced in public by the prime minister.

Just Posted

Red Deer area businesses recognized at Business of the Year Awards night

“It’s an honour just to be nominated.” The popular words echoed throughout… Continue reading

Child sex offender should get 12 years: Crown prosecutor

Stuart Peter Hunt has pleaded guilty to 10 child sexual exploitation and pornography charges

Legalizing cannabis cost estimate for Red Deer just under $400k

Although the province of Alberta has announced $11.2 million for cannabis legalization,… Continue reading

WATCH: Every square tells a story: Edmonton expert is exploring Red Deer’s quilting history

Community members can bring in family heirloom quilts for documentation

Red Deer-area dads going through divorce are invited to Man Up

Support group formed to focus on positive activities, networking

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

PHOTO: Say goodbye to City Hall Park flowers

A sure sign that winter is on its way is when City… Continue reading

PHOTO: Chew On This! campaign draws attention to national poverty

Lunch bags were being handed out in front of The Hub downtown… Continue reading

Wickenheiser, Pegula reflect NHL’s trend toward diversity

BUFFALO, N.Y. — With a laugh, Kim Pegula’s competitive nature kicked in… Continue reading

Harry and Meghan bring rain to drought-stricken Outback town

DUBBO, Australia — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were jokingly thanked… Continue reading

TV Review: A Roseanne Barr-less ‘The Conners’ is a triumph

NEW YORK — Can there be a “Roseanne” without Roseanne? The answer… Continue reading

Canadian manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent in August: Statistics Canada

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 0.4 per cent to… Continue reading

Brian Mulroney joins board of directors of New York-based pot company

NEW YORK — Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is joining the board… Continue reading

Canadians waking up to legalized cannabis: ‘My new dealer is the prime minister’

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Canadians across the country woke up to legalized… Continue reading

Most Read