As I posted on Tuesday, the Liberals have "happened upon" a 500 page dossier of quotes from Stephen Harper. I've had a chance to look through many of them and have picked out a few, some of which show how easily he slips from one side of an issue to the other. While I can understand a change in one's personal opinion on some issues over a period of years, even for a politician, Mr. Harper seems to change his stance on issues rather frequently.
Here is the first issue. Remember when the Reform Party MPs refused their gold-plated pensions and the Leader of the Opposition, Preston Manning, refused to live in the Stornoway mansion, suggesting that it would be better off as a bingo hall? Here's what Stephen Harper had to say as President of the National Citizens Coalition when there were rumblings that the Reformists were deliberating the wisdom of reneging on their approach to both issues:
...and here's what he had to say as a leadership candidate for the Canadian Alliance, three short years later:
I'd say that's pretty much a 180 degree flip flop on that one.
Here's what Mr. Harper had to say about MP pay in 1998:
Now, let's put this into perspective. When Mr. Harper became Prime Minister in 2006, MPs were raking in $147,700 as their base pay. In 2011, MPs are making $157,731, a 6.8 percent increase over the 4 year period. Back in 1998 when Mr. Harper made the aforementioned comment, MPs base salary was $65,600 plus a tax free allowance of $21,700; that jumped to $131,400 in 2001 when the tax free allowance disappeared. I'd say that the overall compensation package has improved substantially over the decade considering that most MPs are still "...bit players in today's parliamentary system" as they were back then (as Mr. Harper noted) and that most Canadians have not seen their salaries increase by anything approaching that amount. As well, MP salaries are twice the amount that average Canadian families earn.
Here's a really interesting comment that Mr. Harper made in 2004 to Don Newman about the role of the United Nations Security Council:
Now, doesn't that make it very clear why Canada did not get a seat on the Security Council back in October 2010? Rather than blaming Michael Ignatieff for trying to scuttle the bid, perhaps Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon should have had a chat with his boss, the Prime Minister.
Here's what Mr. Harper had to say about how grassroots opinions should impact Parliament and MP voting back in 1993:
My, how times change. I was unaware that MPs within his Party were allowed to think for themselves.
Here’s what Mr. Harper had to say about civility in Parliament:
I’m shocked that he actually believes that there should be civil, non-partisan discourse within the hallowed halls of Ottawa. Perhaps he needs to have a chat with Mr. Baird.
Here's what Mr. Harper said about reducing the number of Canada's MPs back in 1994:
This is the same Mr. Harper who, with Bill C-12, has proposed an increase in the number of MPs by 30 to 338 rather than readjusting riding boundaries to better reflect changing population distributions in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.
Once again, Mr. Harper has proven himself to be rather slippery on more than a few issues. While no one can fault someone for changing their opinion on any given issue, it is particularly concerning when Canada's Prime Minister campaigns on an issue (such as taxation of income trusts) and then enacts legislation that completely contradicts his previous stand. It is also more than a bit unsettling that he uses what the leaders of the other Parties in the Legislature have said in the past against them both prior to and during election campaigns when his own words convict him of his own irresponsibility to Canada's voters.
For a change, it would be nice to have just a modicum of consistency so that we actually know what we are voting for (or against)!