14 March 2006

Inside the mind of Stephen Harper

Check out the latest issue of Policy Options for a raft of good articles on the last election and other public policy stuff.

Then read the short interview with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

On federal-provincial relations: The New Incrementalism
It's probably not useful for me to go back and revisit the discussions of 10 or 15 years ago and where we would be vis-a-vis that. I think the most important thing, and something I came to see clearly about three or four years ago after I became leader of the opposition, was that what the country really needed in dealing with federal-provincial matters, the federation in Quebec in particular, was to look forward rather than backward, stop worrying about who was right and wrong in Meech Lake and concern ourselves more with contemporary issues.
We'’re trying to make significant changes, but in a way that is step-by-step and achievable, and will actually happen.
On the fiscal imbalance: Let's talk
I doubt I would go the full-fledged route of a Royal Commission. The first thing, hopefully in the very near future I'’m going to be sitting down with the provinces informally, to talk a little bit about their thoughts. We'’ve got a couple of reports pending, we'’ve got an equalization review that was set out by the previous government, and the provinces have their own report on the fiscal imbalance. I think it would be helpful to have some kind of a joint body go off and do some thinking on this before we go out into tough negotiations, but frankly, I'’d probably stop short of a full-fledged Royal Commission unless everyone thought that was a good idea.
On Quebec: A New Option
Je dis depuis longtemps que les Quebecois veulent une option qui n'est pas la separation, qui n'est pas la corruption ou qui n'est pas un parti impuissant ou un parti du status quo et du centrisme. Et je dis aussi depuis longtemps que, - un moment donne, les Quebecois vont se decider a essayer quelque chose de different. Je ne savais pas exactement quand ils allaient se decider, mais evidement je suis tres heureux qu'’ils aient commence pendant la campagne electorale (RIRE). Je crois que notre resultat aurait meme ete meilleur si la campagne avait compte une semaine de plus.
On Canada-United States relations:
My difficulty with the previous government was not simply that they had fights with the United States, but their fights with the United States did nothing to advance Canadian interests.
On the Afghan commitment:
It is a very dangerous mission. But it is a commitment that Canada has made, a commitment to play a significant role for some time in Afghanistan. I think quite frankly, my sense is that the allied participation in Afghanistan is paying dividends, that we are making progress.