Stephen Harper had really expected his newly formed Conservative party would win the 2004 election, but when they didn't he pouted until he found a way out. He formed a coalition with 'separatist' Gilles Duceppe and 'socialist' Jack Layton to take down the Martin government at the throne speech.
This would have made him an unelected Prime Minister in a coup. (his terminology during the last parliamentary crisis)
As it was, Paul Martin went to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, asking for another election, but instead she told him to fix it, and he did.
So is it any wonder that Mr. Martin would suggest that Harper may try to pull the same thing after the 2006 election, if he lost? The dust hadn't even settled yet on his 2004 coalition. In fact, there was still a little residue from Stockwell Day's coalition agreement with the Bloc in 2000.
But Harper reassured Canadians that he would not pursue another coalition, I suppose given that this first attempt failed and since then he had been blathering about the legitimacy of any legislation that had passed with Bloc support.
Harper: Tories won't form coalition with Bloc
By JUDY MONCHUK
Harper hits negativity by Grits
CALGARY (CP) - So much for Peace on Earth.
As political leaders began a break from the federal election campaign Friday, the spirit of brotherly love appeared to be decidedly absent.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper took time out from his last-minute Christmas shopping to lash out at the Liberals over a photograph suggesting his party would work with the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
The photo of Harper and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe talking quietly was taken during a Holocaust memorial last spring on Parliament Hill.
The Liberals are using the picture in some of their internal instructions for candidates on the campaign trail. "I think it's beyond tasteless," said Harper, noting that Prime Minister Paul Martin and New Democrat Leader Jack Layton attended the same ceremony.
"To imply that Mr. Duceppe and I share some sort of agenda other than opposing the Holocaust is disgraceful."
An internal Liberal website has been distributing material for candidates warning of a Harper-Duceppe coalition and suggesting the two leaders could work together to weaken the federal government.
Harper said the material foreshadows how the election campaign will become increasingly nasty when electioneering resumes in early January.
"I think you're just seeing the beginning," said Harper, who spoke briefly to reporters after buying some presents for his children at a Calgary toy store. "A corrupt party that doesn't have a record to run on: this is the sort of stuff they're going to do."
Harper said he would never form a coalition with the Bloc.
"We may co-operate on the odd issue, but even there we're not naive," he said. "We understand that, even when the Bloc agrees with us, their motives are very different."
Liberal spokeswoman Amy Butcher said in an e-mail that the material is not intended for a planned advertising campaign, but is part of a list of issues to help candidates who are knocking on voters' doors. The pieces were prepared by a volunteer and have been available on the internal Liberal websire since last spring.
"They were never at any time prepared in the context of an advertising strategy, it was never our intention to use them in our strategy, nor will they be used in future ad spots," said Butcher.
Martin has said his party will stress positive campaigning.
On Friday, Harper refused to pledge that the Tories would stay above negative ads. "Anything we'll be saying in this campaign will be factual and accurate," he said.
"I won't promise it will all be pretty. But these people want to play a dirty game. I won't say we won't be tough but we will at least be truthful. I certainly won't use a misleading photograph in that kind of manner."