Grits shrug off Tory accusation they fabricated Harper quote
Globe and Mail Update
Monday, April 18, 2011 1
A Liberal attack ad questioning a perceived hidden agenda in the Conservative health-care platform has the Tories aggressively pushing back with accusations the Grits fabricated a quote from Stephen Harper.
The Liberals are dismissing the accusation, arguing the Conservative Leader has been quoted previously musing about private health care.
The disputed quotation attributed to Mr. Harper is: “It’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.” It appears at the beginning of the new Liberal attack ad, titled Health Risk.
The Tories, in a statement released to media covering the Liberal campaign, say Mr. Harper never said it. Rather, the words belong to David Somerville, Mr. Harper’s boss when he worked as vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing lobby group.
The ad has caused much consternation in the Tory camp. Even before the Tories started pointing fingers Monday, Conservative campaign manager Jenni Byrne sent a memo to her troops, suggesting that the Liberal attack ad was a sign of desperation.
That was repeated again Monday in the statement sent to reporters. “In a clear sign of desperation, the Ignatieff Liberals are running a TV commercial based on a fabricated quotation,” the Tories charged.
But the Liberals fired back with a series of quotations from Mr. Harper and what they are calling “his controversial views on the Canada Health Act.”
They noted that he was quoted in The Globe and Mail (in August, 2010) and in the Calgary Herald (in May, 2005) saying “it’s past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act.”
“In 1997, when Harper was vice-president of the National Citizens' Coalition, a group obsessed with privatizing health care, he said: “Well I think it would be a good idea. … Moving toward alternatives, including those provided by the private sector, is a natural development of our health care system.’ In another interview that year, Harper said, ‘It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act,’ according to the Calgary Herald article.”
There are other quotes from Mr. Harper, including just last week when he said during the English-language leaders debate: “Governments across this country have experimented with alternative service delivery. … We’re not going to wave the finger at provinces because they experiment with different delivery.”
But the Tories are unfazed. “Ignatieff knows that the words belong to David Somerville, not Stephen Harper, because in past the Liberals have correctly attributed the quotation to Somerville (Liberal Party of Canada, “Stephen Harper and the National Citizens' Coalition” (2004), page 5, footnote 20),” the Conservative news release said.
In response to the Tory accusation, an Ignatieff spokeswoman said: “This ad exposes one thing: you can’t trust Stephen Harper on health care. The Conservatives may not like Canadians having this debate about the future of health, but they have a right to know where Stephen Harper stands and how he explains his controversial views on the Canada Health Act.”
The Liberals also note the ad has been up since last Tuesday, and curious why the Tories are only raising the issue now.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Posted by Brent Fullard at 1:37 PM