Will the Real Stephen Harper please stand up?

A citizen's guide comparing election campaign promises to deeply held beliefs

January 10, 2006
by Murray Dobbin

The biggest spectacle of the election has been the apparent transformation of Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, and long time right-wing ideologue, into a born-again liberal. It's almost unbelievable.

Actually it is unbelievable. At the beginning of this election, Canadians worried about Harper's "hidden agenda". But after he said openly that a Conservative government would table a bill revoking gay marriage, for some reason, people seemed to think that all his agendas were on the table. Harper's more recent promises have gone largely unscrutinized.

It's time for a reality check. Canadian pundits often say that the Liberal party campaigns from the left and governs from the right. How can the Conservatives campaign from the left without anybody recognizing the pattern?

It's time for a reality check.

Let's compare Stephen Harper's recent promises with the record of what he has been saying for the last twenty years. As you may remember, Harper left the Reform party in a snit in 1997, when it became clear that Preston Manning intended to remain Leader for the foreseeable future. When someone asked how he felt about stepping down as MP in order to become Vice-President (and eventually President 1998-2001) of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), Harper replied: "Frankly, I'm looking forward to being in a position where I can speak much more independently than I'm able as a Member of Parliament."

seems like no one knows his real name