Thursday, February 26, 2004

Harper says No Coalition:

Coalition Not in the Cards

Formal coalition not in the cards: Harper

Judge won't delay Tory nomination

MONTREAL (CP) - The Conservative Party will work with other parties on specific issues but won't unite in a coalition to form a minority government, leadership candidate Stephen Harper said Thursday.

"My approach if I were in that position would be to form a government and to seek support on an issue-by-issue basis from different parties for different policy agenda," he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. "It would not be to form a formal coalition."

While Conservatives may find common ground with the Bloc Quebecois on issues such as provincial rights or free trade, Harper said he doesn't believe a formal coalition with the separatist party "would be viable for obvious reasons."

The former Canadian Alliance leader said he is in a two-person battle with Belinda Stronach for Quebec support in the leadership race. The Conservatives will choose a leader on March 20.

Harper said winning seats in Quebec is crucial to eventually forming a majority government.

"We won't have a sustainable majority government in the Conservative Party unless we do get representation in the province of Quebec, which is why I've spent so much time here in this leadership race."

Harper said a Conservative government wouldn't introduce contentious legislation on such moral issues as abortion or capital punishment.

It would instead be up to MPs to introduce private members' bills that would be subject to free votes in the House of Commons.

"People have to be free to express their moral and religious opinions. They can't feel their party is imposing those kinds of views on them."

Well, here again is the classic trade off:

principles vs. winnability/political power. no talks with the bloc means little chance of forming a govt, really. although, at some point, they will have to talk. its obvious. they need to consolidate these voters.

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