Prime Minister Stephen Harper has accused Michael Ignatieff of abandoning his moral compass after the Liberal Leader praised Brian Mulroney recently for his accomplishments as a former prime minister.Keep it going, Mr. Harper, keep it going.
Speaking in Moncton, the Prime Minister shrugged off questions about internal Conservative bickering over the treatment of Mr. Mulroney, after Conservative officials informed reporters last week the former prime minister was no longer a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party. But he had strong words for Mr. Ignatieff, who said the Tories should be treating Mr. Mulroney with greater respect.
“Mr. Ignatieff and the Liberal Party, when this matter first broke, were practically demanding that I throw Mr. Mulroney in prison without a trial,” Mr. Harper said.
“Now they're out there pretending that somehow they're his best friends and they don't agree with any of this. I think what Canadians will see is when it comes to a very difficult issue of government conduct and government ethics, this government has behaved responsibly and the other party, the other leader, has absolutely no moral compass.” (emphasis added)
To be clear, Ignatieff hasn't commented on or changed in any respect the Liberal position which was indeed to advance that there be an inquiry into the Mulroney-Schreiber matter. The Liberals are not now stating "they don't agree with any of this," i.e., the inquiry, no matter how much the PM would like to fictitiously weave.
The last bit, that the "other leader, has absolutely no moral compass," another classic Harper unscripted gaffe. From the PM whose government breaks promises with ease, who let his party assassinate the character of Stephane Dion for two plus years, who engaged in "inflammatory and tendentious rhetoric" in order to save his political career and his government as a result of his disastrous partisan fall economic update in which he tried to destroy his political opposition, that's a bit rich, no? And that's just a preliminary list of issues that one could raise to demonstrate that the emperor has no clothes when it comes to issues of one's "moral compass." What the Conservatives have done economically to the nation's finances, what they're doing now to the CBC...the moral high ground is not exactly comfortable terrain for Mr. Harper to walk.
That Harper would go so far to impugn Ignatieff tells you how much the situation is getting to him. This comment is all about Stephen Harper, not Mr. Ignatieff. In recent polls, Mr. Ignatieff is impressing Canadians and gaining support, that's likely part of Harper's poisonous tone today.
Harper talking about "moral compasses," not exactly a helpful measuring stick to be throwing around...
Update (5:20 p.m.): Harper's Public Works Miniser Christian Paradis today, offering similar comments to Mr. Ignatieff's:
[...]Question: And because I get two questions in English, Mulroney, how is that going over in Quebec, in the sense that do you think it was a mistake to - for the party, to distance itself from Brian Mulroney? How do Quebecers feel about that?
Christian Paradis: No, the thing is Mr. Mulroney is a great - was a great prime minister. I think that he brought a lot of things for Quebec and for the entire federation. That being said, there is a public enquiry and we will let it go.
Question: But the fact is that the office, Mr. Harper’s office made it seem that he is no longer a party member. Do you think that was a mistake?
Christian Paradis: No, no, I think the fact is that there is a public enquiry and we have to let it go. Mr. Mulroney asked himself for that and we - the danger is, here is to mix the things and we should not do it. So let the public enquiry go, but that being said, I repeat, Mr. Mulroney was a great prime minister. He did a lot for Quebec, for the entire federation and this is what I think about him. [...]
Update (5:55 p.m.): Robert Silver points out the unbelievability of Harper's feigned ignorance on whether or not Mr. Mulroney is indeed a member of the party.
Update (7:55 p.m.): Ignatieff response:
A spokeswoman for Ignatieff accused Harper of trying to shift the focus away from his problems in caucus.
"It is disappointing that the prime minister, who is clearly having difficulties with his caucus, would lash out at the Opposition leader for a courtesy birthday call to former prime minister Mulroney," Jill Fairbrother said in an email. "The Liberal party fully supports the inquiry. Our position on this has not changed."