Well, that was fun while it lasted.
This just in: Prime Minister Stephen Harper apparently believes that any Canadian can run for office -- despite the time they may have spent out of the country. That must be why, as he also reveals, the "Just Visiting" ad campaign is over against Michael Ignatieff.
Harper made the comments during an interview with CTV Atlantic's Steve Murphy in Halifax -- yes, it's that Steve Murphy, he of the famous re-do with Stephane Dion during the last campaign.
Here's the Q and A, which thankfully doesn't contain any start-over questions.
Q: You have been spending a good deal of time with Ignatieff lately working on this compromise that averted the election, and at same time your party is running ads that attacked Mr. Ignatieff. And frankly, we and other broadcasters have been getting complaints about those ads. How do those ads right now improve or dignifiy the political process?
A: “My understanding is the campaign’s over for now. But look my preference would be to see opposition work with the government. The opposition has not chosen that path, until very recently. I must admit to being somewhat disappointed the very day after we’d agreed with Mr. Ignatieff to work on employment insurance, the Liberal party was out saying well this was just a cover for a fall election. I do think people want to see the parties work together, but certainly if the parties aren’t going to work together, the Conservative party won’t unilaterally disarm.”
Q: But let me ask you this, how closely do those ads and the messages in those ads reflect your own personal view of Michael Ignatieff and his motives?
A: “Well as you know that campaign, the source of that campaign is strictly Mr. Ignatieff’s own words and own record so he’s the one who has to answer questions on that.”
Q: But do you think he’s just visiting?
A: “As I say those ads are built around his own record, his own words, on his own motives, and his own statements on the country and those are the questions he’ll have to answer.”
Q: But do the ads reflect your view as the leader of the party?
A: “As I say the ads allow Mr. Ignatieff to speak for himself.”
Q: Well let me ask you this then do you really think a long absence from the country would in any sense disqualify a Canadian citizen from high office?
A: “Well this is um, this is an analys- ah, these are questions that Mr. Ignatieff will have to address in an election campaign. As you know the government, the people of Canada gave our government a strengthened position in parliament fairly recently. So I would encourage the opposition parties to work with the government in the best interests of the country.”
Q: But do you think that he is in any sense disqualified from aspiring to be prime minister because he’s been out of the country?
A: “Every, every, every, obviously every Canadian citizen’s eligible to run for office. But obviously our records, motives, statements, all these things will be under scrutiny, they always are, of all party leaders in an election campaign.”
Q: Final question about the ads, do you think they are working?
A: “I, you know, I don’t uh, I don’t spend most of my time on that. That’s really for the party officials who worry about that. My principal concern, Steve, is obviously running the government and trying to run the economy through a difficult period. To the extent that I think the ads have made the Liberal party think twice about having an election, I think that’s been a good result. Because I don’t think Canadians want an election. I think it would be another round of political instability. And so to the extent that it’s put that party a little bit back on its heels and maybe thinking a little bit more about how to cooperate and actually dealing with the economy, I actually think it’s been helpful.”