Transcript: Stephen Harper and a United Right | Jan 29, 1997

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his thirties, with curly brown hair. He wears a brown suit, a pink shirt and a blue, green, and black tie.

Steve says REFORM PARTY'S BREAKTHROUGH
IN THE 1993 FEDERAL ELECTION
IS ONE OF THE GREAT SUCCESS
STORIES OF CANADIAN POLITICS.
REFORM WENT FROM TWO SEATS
IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,
TO FIFTY-TWO.
AND PRESTON MANNING BECAME,
FOR ENGLISH CANADA AT LEAST,
THE UNOFFICIAL
OPPOSITION LEADER.
WELL TODAY, AS WE BEGIN
ANOTHER ELECTION YEAR,
REFORM IS IN THE
DOLDRUMS.
IT STANDS FOURTH IN THE
POLLS AT 9 PERCENT,
BEHIND THE TORIES AND THE
NDP, AND SOME OF ITS
MOST PROMINENT MPs
HAVE QUIT.

Mary Hynes has short blonde hair. She wears an electric blue coat and a black shirt.

Steven Harper appears in the studio. He has brown hair parted on the side and he wears grey jacket with a white shirt and a tie with squares with yellow circles and red circles.

Mary says ONE OF THOSE MPs IS OUR GUEST
TONIGHT, STEPHEN HARPER.
MANY PUNDITS SAW HIM AS
THE POTENTIAL SUCCESSOR
TO PRESTON MANNING, BUT
TWO WEEKS AGO HE RESIGNED
AND HE IS ABOUT TO HEAD THE
NATIONAL CITIZENS' COALITION.
WELCOME, MR. HARPER.

Stephen says NICE TO BE HERE.

Mary says SO WE HEARD THE STATS
STEVEN READ OUT TO US -
WHAT DID YOU DO?
JUMP A SINKING SHIP BEFORE
IT WENT DOWN FOR GOOD?

The caption changes to “Stephen Harper. National Citizens’ Coalition.”

Stephen says I HAD INDICATED OFFICIALLY
LAST FALL THAT I WASN'T GOING
TO SEEK RE-ELECTION, AND
REALLY I'D STARTED THIS
TERM IN PARLIAMENT WITH
THE INTENTION OF REALLY
ONLY SPENDING ONE TERM
IN PARLIAMENT.
SO I HAD MADE THAT DECISION
AND I WAS FORTUNATE ONCE
I MADE THAT DECISION, A NUMBER
OF OFFERS BECAME AVAILABLE
TO ME INCLUDING JOINING THE
NATIONAL CITIZENS' COALITION
WHICH IS FOUGHT IN A DIFFERENT
ARENA FOR MANY OF THE SAME
THINGS THAT I WAS FIGHTING
FOR IN PARLIAMENT.
SO, THAT'S WHAT I DID.
NOW WHETHER, UH, WHETHER OR
NOT I LEFT A SINKING SHIP,
WELL, YOU KNOW, WE'LL FIND OUT
THAT IN THE NEXT ELECTION.
REFORM'S ALWAYS DONE
POORER BETWEEN ELECTIONS
IN THE POLLS, THAN
ITS TENDED TO DO, AT THE WHEN
THE VOTERS ACTUALLY
CAST THEIR BALLOTS.

Mary says BUT CERTAINLY WHEN PEOPLE
WERE TOUTING YOU AS THE NEXT
LEADER TO TAKE OVER AFTER
PRESTON MANNING STEPPED DOWN,
YOU WON YOUR SEAT BY MORE THAN
FIFTEEN THOUSAND VOTES, YOU
WERE CONSIDERED THE LEADING
LIGHT OF THE REFORM CAUCUS.
THERE WAS SO MUCH PRESSURE
ON YOU TO STICK WITH IT.
WAS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT THE
PARTY THAT JUST TURNED YOU OFF?

Stephen says NO I NEVER REALLY I WASN'T THE ONE TALKING
ABOUT BEING A LEADER.
IT'S NOT REALLY A JOB THAT
I HAVE BEEN SEEKING
NOR DO I PLAN TO SEEK
ANYTIME IN THE NEAR FUTURE.
I THINK UH, YOU KNOW, I THINK
THAT IF REFORM PARTY IS EVER
LOOKING FOR A LEADER THEY'LL
WANT TO LOOK AT A WIDE RANGE
OF PEOPLE AND A WIDE
RANGE OF QUALITIES.
BUT THAT WASN'T MY INTENTION.
AS I SAY, I CAME TO SERVE
A TERM TO DO SOME THINGS -

Mary says BUT WE ALSO HEARD - EXCUSE
ME - WE ALSO HEARD THAT YOU
OFTEN HAD DISAGREEMENTS
WITH PRESTON MANNING,
WITH THE LEADER, THAT YOU
DISAGREED OVER CHARLOTTETOWN,
THAT YOU WERE
CRITICAL, FOR EXAMPLE,
OF HIS ACCEPTANCE OF
EXPENSE ACCOUNTS.
WAS IT A ROUGH RIDE INSIDE
CAUCUS WITH Mr. MANNING?

Stephen says WELL, WE NEVER TALK ABOUT
WHAT OCCURS INSIDE CAUCUS.
OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE
VIGOROUS DEBATES.
I THINK IT'S FAIR TO SAY I
AGREED WITH Mr. MANNING
FAR MORE OFTEN THAN I
DISAGREED WITH HIM.
I, GENERALLY SPEAKING, I GUESS
I GOT A REPUTATION ON ONE
OR TWO OCCASIONS AS A DISSIDENT,
BUT IN FACT I VOTED WITH
THE PARTY ON THE VAST MAJORITY
OF CASES AND RECEIVED UH,
YOU KNOW, FAIRLY PROMINENT
ASSIGNMENTS FROM Mr. MANNING.

Mary says IS HE A GOOD LEADER?

Stephen says UM, Mr. MANNING,
LIKE ALL LEADERS,
HAS HIS STRENGTHS
AND WEAKNESSES.
I'VE NEVER DWELLED
UPON THAT PUBLICLY.
THE, UH, THE PARTY HAD A
LEADERSHIP REVIEW AT ITS LAST
CONVENTION AND I'VE ALWAYS
DECLINED TO COMMENT ON THAT
BEFORE, DURING OR AFTER.

Mary says ALRIGHT.

Stephen says THAT'S THE REFORM
PARTY'S BUSINESS.

Mary continues EVERYTHING IS HUNKY DORY
AT THE REFORM PARTY AND YET
THEY WENT FROM A FRINGE
MOVEMENT TO 52 SEATS
IN 1993, THEY LOOKED LIKE A
POWERFUL WESTERN FORCE
AND THEN, BOOM, THEY'RE RIGHT
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL.
WHAT'S WRONG?

Stephen continues WELL REFORM WAS AT THIS
KIND OF LEVEL IN SUPPORT
PRIOR TO THE LAST ELECTION.
UM, I THINK THERE IS STILL
A GOOD POSSIBILITY THAT,
COME AN ELECTION, REFORM
WILL RECAPTURE THE VOTE
AND THE VOTING BASE THAT THEY
HAD IN THE 1993 ELECTION.
I THINK WHAT LOOKS MORE
DIFFICULT AT THE MOMENT,
IS REFORM EXPANDING
BEYOND THAT BASE,
PARTICULARLY BEYOND
ITS WESTERN BASE,
BUT TIME WILL TELL.

Mary says DO YOU THINK THIS POPULIST,
GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT
HAS JUST BLOWN
ITSELF OUT?

Stephen says NO, I DON'T THINK
SO, I THINK...
I THINK A COUPLE OF
THINGS HAVE HAPPENED.
I THINK THE MAJOR THING HAS
BEEN OBVIOUSLY THE LIBERALS
HAVE SHIFTED GROUND, TAKEN
A LOT OF IDEAS FROM REFORM,
PARTICULARLY IN FISCAL
AND ECONOMIC POLICY.
REFORM HASN'T GOT THE CREDIT
FOR THAT IT PROBABLY DESERVES,
SO THAT'S - THAT'S HURT
REFORM BUT I THINK, YOU KNOW,
I THINK THE TEST FOR
ALL THESE THINGS,
I THINK REFORM STRATEGISTS SAY
THAT WHEN THE PARTY GETS INTO
AN ELECTION AND ISSUES BECOME
MORE CLEAR IN PEOPLE'S MINDS
THAT THEY WILL FOCUS MORE
FAVOURABLY ON THE REFORM AGENDA.
I THINK THERE'S A
POSSIBILITY THAT'S TRUE.

Mary says OKAY, BUT WHAT DOES
THE REFORM NEED TO DO?
WHAT DOES THE RIGHT NEED TO
DO IN ORDER TO REGAIN SOME
MOMENTUM BECAUSE RIGHT NOW
IT LOOKS LIKE THE FEDERAL
LIBERAL GOVERNMENT IS HEADING
TOWARD ANOTHER VICTORY,
ALBEIT NOT AS BIG, BUT THEY
ARE REALLY WELL ENTRENCHED.
WHERE DOES THE MOMENTUM
FOR THE RIGHT COME FROM?

Stephen says WELL, IF I WAS TO
GIVE AN ANALYSIS,
AND YOU KNOW THAT I
WROTE ONE RECENTLY,
I THINK THAT THE DIFFICULTY
THAT ALL THE OPPOSITION
PARTIES HAVE IS THAT THE
OPPOSITION IS SO FRAGMENTED.
YOU KNOW, PEOPLE TALK ABOUT
THE CHRETIEN GOVERNMENT
HAS NO OPPOSITION, BUT I DON'T
REALLY THINK THAT'S THE PROBLEM.
THE PROBLEM IS, IN FACT, THEY
HAVE TOO MUCH OPPOSITION.
THERE ARE FOUR
OPPOSITION PARTIES,
EACH OF WHICH ARE INCREASINGLY
IDENTIFIED WITH VERY SPECIFIC
KINDS OF ELECTORATES AND IN
CERTAIN PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
AND IN CERTAIN RIDINGS, THEY GO
HEAD TO HEAD WITH THE LIBERALS,
BUT NONE OF THOSE PARTIES
SEEMS TO BE ABLE AT THE MOMENT
TO BREAK OUT OF THOSE
NICHES OR TO CAPTURE
THE ELECTORATE OF ANY
OF THE OTHER PARTIES
OR OF THE GOVERNMENT.
AND I THINK AS LONG AS
YOU HAVE THAT KIND
OF A CONFIGURATION, WITH THE
GOVERNMENT PARTY HAVING HALF
THE VOTE AND THESE VARIOUS
OTHER PARTIES HAVING SEGMENTS
OF THE VOTE, IT'S GONNA BE
DIFFICULT FOR ANY ONE PARTY
TO BEAT THE LIBERALS UNLESS,
UH, YOU KNOW THEY EITHER FORM
ALLIANCES OR-

Mary says WELL, LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT.

Stephen says OR EXPERIENCE A METAMORPHOSIS.

Mary continues WELL LET'S TALK
ABOUT THAT, YEAH,
BECAUSE THE REFORM PARTY
CLEARLY HAS SUCKED AWAY SOME
VOTES FROM THE PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVES.
HAVE YOU RULED OUT
COMPLETELY THE POSSIBILITY
OF REFORM MERGING WITH
THE TORIES IN CANADA?

Stephen says WELL, IT'S NOT MY
BUSINESS, IN MY POSITION.

Mary says FROM YOUR POINT OF VIEW;
YOUR PERSPECTIVE.

Stephen says TO RULE IT OUT OR
NOT RULE IT OUT.
I THINK IT'S CLEAR THAT NONE
OF THE OPPOSITION PARTIES
WILL ENGAGE IN ANY
KIND OF COOPERATION
PRIOR TO THE NEXT
ELECTION.
THE QUESTION WILL BE
WHETHER THEY DO ANYTHING
AFTER THE NEXT ELECTION.
PART OF THAT WILL BE
CONDITIONED ON WHAT ACTUALLY
OCCURS IN THE ELECTION -
WHICH PARTIES YOU KNOW,
END UP WITH THE MOST
VOTES AND THE MOST SEATS,
AND THAT MAY
DETERMINE, YOU KNOW,
WHETHER ONE PARTY IS
GOING TO ABSORB SOME OF
THE OPPOSITION OR NOT.
MY SENSE AT THE
MOMENT IS THAT, UH,
THESE PARTIES ARE EACH
GONNA GET THEIR VOTE,
HOW MANY SEATS THEY GET
IS AN OPEN QUESTION,
BUT IT'S GOING TO BE DIFFICULT
FOR THEM TO SORT OF
BECOME NATIONAL OPPOSITIONS
IN AND OF THEMSELVES.

Mary says CAN YOU HELP ME
UNDERSTAND SOMETHING?
I HAVE READ YOUR PIECE
AND IT'S VERY INTERESTING,
AND IT SUGGESTS THAT IN FACT
THEY ARE AT ODDS WITH EACH OTHER
AND PULLING THESE VOTES
AWAY - WHAT IS IT DO YOU THINK
WITHIN THE REFORM PARTY,
WITHIN THE PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVES
THAT AT THIS TIME,
PREVENTS THEM FROM
WANTING TO COME TOGETHER?

Stephen says WELL, THE TWO PARTIES HAVE
VERY DIFFERENT AGENDAS
IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT PEOPLE
SAY THEY ARE ON THE RIGHT.
YOU KNOW, THE PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVE PARTY HAS THIS
STRONG RED TORY TRADITION,
WHICH IN MY VIEW IS REALLY
JUST ANOTHER FORM
OF LIBERALISM.
THE REFORM PARTY,
ON THE OTHER HAND,
IS MORE DEFINITELY
CONSERVATIVE BUT ALSO TALKS
ABOUT POPULISM AND THAT HAS A
VERY DISTINCTIVE MEANING
TO THE LEADERSHIP AND TO SOME
OF THE PEOPLE IN THE PARTY.
AND I THINK WHAT'S HAPPENING,
IN FACT, IN THE SHORT TERM,
IS BOTH THOSE PARTIES
ARE MOVING FARTHER AWAY.
WHETHER IT'S ON FISCAL
ISSUES, OR QUEBEC,
OR WHATEVER - THEY'RE MOVING
TO BE MORE DISTINCTIVE -
THAT'S PART OF THEM FIGHTING
THE WAR AGAINST EACH OTHER
AS WELL AS WITH
THE LIBERALS.

Mary says AND YET WE SAW ONE OF YOUR
COLLEAGUES, MP JAN BROWN,
LEAVE THE REFORM PARTY AND GO TO
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVES.
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT?
WAS IT A GOOD MOVE?

Stephen says WELL I THINK, YOU KNOW,
YOU COULD LOOK AT THAT
AS A HISTORY OF A
PARTICULAR STORY.
WE ALL KNOW THE STORY ABOUT
JAN BROWN LEAVING THE PARTY,
HER DISPUTES WITH THE
PARTY, SHE LEFT THE PARTY,
SHE'S NOW JOINED
THE PCs.
I THINK IF YOU WERE TO
GIVE AN ANALYSIS FOR THAT,
TO A CERTAIN EXTENT
IT'S GOTTA BE A BIT
OF A PR BOOST
FOR THE PCs.
I THINK, THOUGH, THERE'S GOING
TO BE SOME PROBLEMS THERE
BECAUSE AS A REFORMER, JAN
BROWN'S DONE AND SAID MANY
THINGS THAT ARE VERY DIFFERENT
THAN WHAT THE PROGRESSIVE
CONSERVATIVE PARTY STANDS FOR,
BUT I THINK FRANKLY, PAULA,
THIS IS ANOTHER CASE WHERE THE
REAL BENEFICIARY IS PROBABLY
THE LIBERALS BECAUSE WHAT
YOU'RE REALLY LOOKING AT NOW,
IN THAT WRITING, IS THE
POSSIBILITY OF A SPLIT VOTE
ON THE OPPOSITION, WHICH
YOU DIDN'T HAVE BEFORE.

Mary continues OKAY, LET'S TALK ABOUT THE
PEOPLE WHO REALLY MATTER:
THE VOTERS.
DO YOU THINK THEY'VE PERHAPS
GROWN TIRED WITH THE
DEFICIT-CUTTING AGENDA, THE
SORT OF, LOWERING THE SOCIAL
SPENDING AGENDA THAT IS
TRADITIONALLY ASSOCIATED
WITH THE RIGHT OR
THE FAR RIGHT?

Stephen says WELL, UH, AND THE LIBERAL
GOVERNMENT I WOULD ADD
AT THIS POINT, UH YEAH, UH,
ONE OF THE REASONS REFORM,
WHEN I RAN IN '93, WE PROPOSED
THE DEFICIT PLAN THAT WOULD
ELIMINATE THE DEFICIT IN THREE
YEARS AS YOU CAN'T SUSTAIN
PUBLIC ATTENTION ON DEFICIT
SPENDING INDEFINITELY,
BUT THE FACT IS THE
DEFICIT'S STILL THERE,
IT'S STILL A MONSTER
AND UNTIL IT'S BEATEN
IT'S STILL GONNA
BE AROUND.
SO, YOU KNOW I THINK WHAT WE
SEE NOW IS PAUL MARTIN AND
OTHERS PLAYING WITH THE IDEA,
SOME NEW SPENDING PROGRAMS AND
LAYING OFF THE DEFICIT AGENDA
BUT WHAT YOU'LL SEE -
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED IN '88,
THE TORIES DID THE SAME THING -
IS IF THEY DO THIS, DON'T
TACKLE THE DEFICIT,
AS SOON AS THE ELECTION IS
OVER THEY'LL BE RIGHT BACK
TO DEFICIT REDUCTION.
BUT I THINK THAT'S A
PROBLEM FOR REFORM,
BECAUSE THAT'S BEEN
ITS MAJOR PUBLIC FOCUS,
OR THE ONE IT'S BEEN
IDENTIFIED WITH IN THE PAST,
UH, BUT IT HAS OTHER
POLICIES THAT IT CAN ALSO,
IT CAN ALSO CAPITALISE ON.

Mary says NOW YOU, I KNOW YOU
SAY THAT YOU ONLY WANT
TO STAY THERE FOR
ONE TERM.
HAVE YOU RULED POLITICS
OUT ALTOGETHER?

Stephen says WELL, YOU KNOW IN THIS
BUSINESS YOU NEVER SAY NEVER,
BUT WHAT I HAVE SAID IS THAT,
UH, I'VE GOT THE JOB RIGHT NOW
THAT I WANT, THAT I THINK
I CAN DO THE BEST IN,
AND PEOPLE HAVE ASKED ME
IF THERE'S A LEADERSHIP
CONVENTION AFTER
THE NEXT ELECTION,
WOULD YOU BE A CANDIDATE,
AND THE ANSWER IS NO.
I INTEND TO STAY WHERE I AM
AND TRY AND INFLUENCE PUBLIC
LIFE IN A NON-PARTISAN WAY.

Mary says THROUGH, SORT OF, I GUESS
ADVOCACY INSTEAD OF OFFICE,
WHAT WOULD YOUR ROLE AT
THE NATIONAL CITIZENS'
COALITION BE LIKE?

Stephen says WELL, I'VE COME ON THE
COALITION AS A VICE-PRESIDENT
AND I'LL BECOME PRESIDENT
LATER IN THE YEAR IF ALL
GOES ACCORDING TO PLAN,
AND WHAT WE DO,
AT THE NATIONAL
CITIZENS' COALITION IS,
WE'RE NOT A POLITICAL PARTY,
WE DON'T RUN FOR OFFICE,
WE'RE NOT TRYING TO BUILD
AN ELECTORAL ALLIANCE.
ON THE OTHER HAND, WE DON'T
LOBBY GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
WHAT WE DO IS WE BRING ISSUES
OF CONCERN TO THE PUBLIC
THROUGH ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS,
WE TRY AND INFLUENCE PUBLIC
OPINION TO PUT PRESSURE
ON GOVERNMENTS,
AND ON SOME OCCASIONS, WHEN
GOVERNMENTS GO BEYOND THE PALE
LIKE THEY DID ON THE GAG-LAW
ON ELECTION ADVERTISING
AND THINGS LIKE THAT,
WE GO TO COURT.
AND WE'VE BEEN SUCCESSFUL
IN THOSE INSTANCES AS WELL.

Mary says I'VE JUST GOT A MOMENT LEFT,
BUT I KNOW THAT WHAT YOU'VE
ADVOCATED IS PERHAPS A
COALITION OF RIGHT-WING
PARTIES THAT SOMEHOW
THEY MIGHT HAVE A CHANCE.
IT'S NOT LIKELY TO
HAPPEN, I GUESS,
BEFORE THE NEXT FEDERAL
ELECTION EXPECTED THIS YEAR.
WHO DO YOU THINK
IS GOING TO WIN?

Stephen says WELL, IT WOULD REALLY
SURPRISE ME AT THE MOMENT
IF THE LIBERALS DIDN'T
GET THE MOST SEATS.
I MEAN, JUDGING FROM ALL THE

NOT JUST THE POLLING DATA,
BUT THE FACT THEY HAVE
SUCH A WIDE COALITION.
THE WAY THE LIBERALS, I THINK
ARE EVENTUALLY GOING TO LOSE
OFFICE, WHETHER IT'S IN THIS
ELECTION OR THE NEXT ONE,
IS THEY'RE GOING TO FAIL
TO WIN A MAJORITY.
THEY BASICALLY LOST
QUEBEC AND WITHOUT QUEBEC,
THE LIBERAL PARTY HAS NEVER
BEEN A MAJORITY PARTY
IN THIS COUNTRY.
AND THAT'S WHERE I THINK
YOU'RE GONNA FACE SOME DAY
A MINORITY PARLIAMENT WITH
THE LIBERALS MAYBE HAVING
THE LARGEST NUMBER OF SEATS.
WHAT WILL BE THE TEST IS
WHETHER THERE'S THEN ANY PARTY
IN OPPOSITION THAT'S ABLE TO
FORM A COALITION OR WORKING
ALLIANCE WITH THE OTHERS, AND
I THINK WE HAVE A POLITICAL
SYSTEM THAT'S GONNA CONTINUE
TO HAVE THREE OR FOUR
DIFFERENT PARTIES, OR
FIVE DIFFERENT PARTIES.
SO, I THINK PARTIES THAT WANT
TO FORM GOVERNMENT ARE GONNA
EVENTUALLY HAVE TO
LEARN TO WORK TOGETHER.

Mary says OKAY, WE KNOW WHERE YOUR
VOTE IS, ON THE RIGHT.
STEPHEN HARPER,
THANKS SO MUCH.
Stephen says THANK YOU.

Mary continues WE'LL BE BACK WITH MORE
STUDIO 2 RIGHT AFTER THIS SHORT BREAK.

Watch: Stephen Harper and a United Right