"Somebody will have a majority"

Paul Wells on Stephen Harper’s habit of telling us exactly what he’s going to do

The Prime Minister yesterday in Ajax, Ont. (as noted by Colleague Wherry):

“The next election will be a choice between a coalition government of the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois, or a stable Conservative majority government for this country.”

Compare that with my boss Ken Whyte’s interview with Harper just before New Year’s Day, 2009:

Obviously, if we had an election today somebody will have a majority because it will be either Canada’s Conservative government or the coalition.

Q: So you think the coalition’s going to stick together?

A: Well, I’m saying if we had an election, if they were to defeat us—and you know my view—if they defeat us the only constitutional political and moral option is to ask the people to choose who should govern and then there will be two choices, and somebody will win a majority if those are the choices…

Q: So you think they’d actually run as a coalition?

A: I don’t think they have any choice: if they defeat us as a coalition they have to run as a coalition, and I think those will be the real choices before the electorate. The electorate will know that if you’re not electing the Conservative government you’re going to be electing a coalition that will include the NDP and the separatists.

One thing I’ve learned fairly recently about Harper is that he almost always tells you what he’s going to do. He tells you some other stuff to bamboozle you, so figuring him out is never entirely straightforward, but he also usually tells you his plans. For 19 months, beginning weeks after Dion, Layton and Duceppe nearly took his job, Harper has been perfectly consistent in framing the next showdown. Here’s a column I wrote, halfway between the Maclean’s interview and yesterday’s speech, about the consequences of the frame Harper has chosen, a frame he’s sticking with.