Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC): Mr. Speaker, polls indicate that the Kyoto protocol is popular. I notice today that the Bloc Québécois is indicating—just today—after four years, a change in position. It is opposed to our action in Afghanistan because polls indicate that our presence there is not popular.
Independent nations need leaders, not pollsters.
Staggering that Harper makes such a statement, while in the midst of a pure political powerplay on Afghanistan. Andrew Coyne praises Harper, but admits:
It wasn't pretty, and it didn't show a whole lot of respect for Parliament, but I have to admit Harper got the job done with his sudden decision to put the question of extending the Afghanistan mission to the House. It was brinksmanship of the highest -- and lowest -- order, and thank God.
Gerard Kennedy sums it up nicely:
"That debate has been stolen away by a fairly crass, political consideration by the prime minister...
"In putting his politics and his presidential sort of system of trying to manipulate Parliament ahead of the interests of Canadians, he has potentially undermined the mandate for those troops. It's highly regrettable, and I don't accept that the prime minister has a mandate to act in this fashion..."
"Mr. Harper running full-time for re-election"
Every single discussion involving this government and their policies, revolves around political considerations. Even Harper's own supporters acknowledge the political motivations for last night's vote. Surely, Harper must have appreciated the irony of his statement in the context of the proceedings.
I do agree with our P.M, we need leaders, not pollsters. So instead of manipulating our troops and their safety so you can blunt potential criticism, maybe the debate should be approached with careful considerations in mind. Issues aren't chess pieces that act as faciliators for a majority. Are you governing or trying to win? Unfortunately, we are in the midst of the longest election campaign in Canadian history- Parliament Hill is just a prolonged campaign stop.