Harper’s ‘arrogance’ will come back to haunt him, opposition says

The Globe and Mail

Opposition MPs fired back at Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s weekend display of triumphalism, saying the Prime Minister is displaying a hubris that will come back to haunt him.

In an address to supporters during the opening weekend of the Calgary Stampede, Mr. Harper said the era of Canadian Liberal dominance is over and the New Democrats’ strong support in Quebec will be fleeting.

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The Prime Minister consigned the Liberals and Bloc Québécois to history’s waste basket, adding that his majority win on May 2 reflects the fact that Canadians are essentially conservative people.

“Conservative values are Canadian values. Canadian values are conservative values. They always were,” Mr. Harper said. “And Canadians are going back to the party that most closely reflects who they really are: The Conservative Party, which is Canada's party.”

In making that claim, the Prime Minister was turning the tables on Liberal predecessors such as Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien, who had long insisted that their party was the true standard-bearer of Canadian values. The Liberals liked to portray Conservatives as out of touch with the country and even quasi-American.

Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said Mr. Harper’s “triumphal arrogance” underscores his divisive approach to politics.

“His is still a politics that polarizes, that divides, and that excludes,” Mr. Rae said in a statement. “Pride like this will only be followed by a fall.”

NDP MP Joe Comartin said Mr. Harper was demonstrating the same arrogance that led to the Liberal downfall. And he challenged the Prime Minister’s political credibility in commenting on the NDP prospects in Quebec.

“Here we’ve got a guy who’s saying our honeymoon is going to be over quickly with the people of Quebec after he didn’t have anything more than a one-night stand,” Mr. Comartin said in a telephone interview.

After holding only one seat, the New Democrats won 59 of Quebec’s 75 seats and garnered 43 per cent of the popular vote in the May election. The Conservatives dropped to five seats from 11, with only 16.5 per cent of popular support.

The NDP MP said Mr. Harper appears to be keen to adopt the mantle of “natural governing party” that the Liberals used to assume for themselves.

“His words could have easily come out of the mouth of Chrétien or a number of other Liberal prime ministers in believing that the Canadian people have totally identified with them,” he said. “And they fly in the face of the fact that 60 per cent of Canadians voted for other political parties.”

Mr. Comartin is the NDP’s justice critic and maintained that the Conservative’s tough-on-crime agenda is at odds with the majority views of Canadians, pointing, for example, to legislation that will require jail time for people found guilty of possessing five or more marijuana plants.

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