On that point, there is no way of knowing how long this minority government will last. Does that mean you are now campaigning as much as you are governing?
I've made no secret of the fact that when you are in a minority, in a sense you are always in a campaign. But it's probably not a bad thing to remember when you have a majority too. It doesn't mean that everything you do has to be popular. But everything you are doing has to be serving the public interest. And you'll have to, in due course, justify it to the population. I've been attacked so much in the past few years it doesn't really matter to me. I always ask myself what will the public's reaction be to such-and-such a decision or such-and-such a move by the time we get to the next election, when the public actually makes a judgment. So the temporary reaction of a columnist or whatever today doesn't really mean anything. You have to ask yourself, "How is this going to look to the public in due course?" And that should always guide you. And sometimes, you'll proceed with things that are apparently unpopular because you know in due course they will be easy to justify. But if in a year, or two, or three down the course you still won't be able to justify it, then that's a wrong decision.
Of course it is a good thing to take the public view into consideration when formulating policy. However, Harper's approach seems to place undue emphasis on appearances. There are times where government has to make decisions which invariably alienate people. Government shouldn't enact legislation based on how it will be received in a coming election. If the goal is a majority, and policy is seen through this lens, it may make for decisions that aren't in the long term interest of the country, but merely in the Conservatives best interest. I would offer Harper's overtures to Quebec, an elected Senate and the GST cut as policies that are more pander than sound vision. If every decision is rooted in a political calculus, it begs the question, are you operating on a set of core beliefs or simple appearance?
Harper made some comments with regard to Emerson:
Well then, let me be blunt: was it stupid to appoint Emerson?
No. I was absolutely aware of what the criticism would be. But I want the best people in my cabinet. And I want to broaden the base of our party beyond those who voted for it. And so that decision was made full well knowing what the criticism would be, and it was made without hesitation.
You say that, but did you really understand how angry your core constituents would be?
Most of the anger has not come from there. Most of it has come from the Liberal party, the opposition parties, and elements of the media. And this is where we expected the bulk of the criticism to come from.
It sounds like Harper and Emerson have co-ordinated their erroneous talking points. In defining the outrage as nothing more than partisan motivations, it belittles the genuine frustration of ordinary voters. Harper's comments reveal an arrogance that is striking for a man who claims to represent a government that believes in openness and transparency.