Conservative Leader Stephen Harper sat down for a wide-ranging interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, the first of four interviews with the leaders of the major political parties airing this week.
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- Read more CBC News coverage of the 2015 federal election
Here is the full transcript:
STEPHEN HARPER (SH): Well look, I wouldn't quite simplify it that much, Peter. I mean we are obviously constantly modifying, evolving our policy. I made some significant announcements during the campaign. But the core of our economic policy, as you know, has been to establish solid economic fundamentals, to establish a solid balanced budget framework that involves lower taxes. But to make targeted investments that will help people's lives and that will grow key sectors of the economy. We think – We think that's, whether change or not, we think it's the fundamentally right path. We think that the other path and other path is really summarized very easy. It's spend tens of billions of dollars more, financed by a combination of permanent deficits and tax increases. And we think people will understand that that's a very bad change for this country and would put us where a lot of other countries have been where we don't want to go.
PM: BUT THEY DON'T SEEM TO BE SEEING THAT. THEY SEEM TO BE SAYING THEY WANT CHANGE.
SH: (overlap) Well time will –
PM: I MEAN UP TO 70% (overlap) IN SOME OF THE POLLS.
SH: (OVERLAP) Well time will tell, Peter. Ah –
PM: SO YOU THINK THAT WILL CHANGE...
SH: Time will tell. Look, I don't (overlap)
PM: (OVERLAP) WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS ABOUT –
SH: There's a lot – look, there's a lot of polls out there. There's a lot of inaccurate polls, Premier Adrian Dix, Premier Danielle Smith. I can go through the list. You know, I think in the end people don't make their decision based on polls. They make their decisions based on their assessments of the future, their own lives. And I think this country, notwithstanding our challenges, is still the best place to be in terms of our future economic prospects. And the path we're on for taking the country is the best path for those prospects. And I, I think frankly if you look at the credible experts, they tend to agree with us on that.
PM: WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS THOUGH THAT THEY WANT TO SEE CHANGE IN YOU?
SH: ...you know, I don't know about that. Look, people want to see –
PM: (overlap) BUT YOU SAID YOU –
SH: (overlap) People want to see everything. People want to see everything in a leader, right? They want to see everything in a leader. They want to see ah you to have every single attribute you can have. I am who I am. Canadians know me. I'm not perfect but ah you know, I'm dedicated to my country, I love my country. I think I've done as good a job as I can do and I lead a great team of people.
PM: YOU TALK ABOUT THE ECONOMY AND YOUR RECORD ON THAT. LET ME AH – LET ME DEAL WITH THE ECONOMY THIS WAY.
PM: I'LL REMIND YOU OF SOMETHING YOU SAID AT THE BEGINNING OF THE LAST – WELL NOT THE LAST CAMPAIGN BUT THE 2008 CAMPAIGN.
SH: Oh so this is before the –
SH: –before the global financial crisis.
PM: BEFORE THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL –
PM: –BUT NOT THAT LONG BEFORE THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS.
SH: (overlap) No, but just before it hit.
PM: IT WAS, IT WAS ABOUT A MONTH OR SO BEFORE-
PM: HERE'S WHAT YOU SAID. SEPTEMBER 15 WERE GOING TO HAVE ANY BIG CRASH OR RECESSION WE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE HAD IT BY NOW.
PM: NOW WITHIN A MONTH, TWO MONTHS, WE HAD THE BIG CRASH –
SH: We had the big crash.
PM: WE HAD THE BIG CRASH AND WE WERE DEFINITELY IN ONE OF THE WORST (OVERLAP)
SH: (overlap) We absolutely did.
PM: –RECESSIONS OF MODERN TIMES
SH: Yeah. Yeah.
PM: NOW TODAY WE'RE IN A RECESSION, JUST ANNOUNCED. BUT YOU SAY WE'RE COMING OUT OF IT AND THERE ARE INDICATORS
PM: –THAT SUGGEST THAT. BUT WHY, GIVEN YOUR TRACK RECORD ON ANALYSIS – AND YOU'RE NOT ALONE AS AN ECONOMIST.
PM: WE ALL KNOW THE STORIES ABOUT ECONOMISTS. THEY'RE –
SH: Well very – very few people predicted what happened in '08 right?
PM: RIGHT. WELL SOME DID.
PM: BUT NEVERTHELESS –
SH: Very few, very few.
PM: –GIVEN WHAT HAPPENED THEN, WHY SHOULD THEY BELIEVE NOW THAT YOU'RE RIGHT IN YOUR ANALYSIS OF WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?
SH: Well look, um I would say two things to that, Peter. First of all, I wouldn't disagree – I would disagree with the analysis you've just put out. Where are we right now? You know, we have had, as the Bank of Canada has said, most of the economy has actually been growing. The most recent figures show the economy is growing as a whole. We have had a severe contraction focused on certain sectors mainly because of the fall of oil and commodity prices. I'm not minimizing that. It's a big challenge where I live in Alberta, but it is not reflective of the general trajectory of the Canadian economy and I don't think actually there's much debate about the stats there. But what I would say is this. I think what that whole period should tell us um is that um, you know, analysis is great. But in the end, you don't know what you're actually going to be dealing with. We're in a very unstable world. Ever since then it has been very unstable. And we've seen that in the last few weeks with the – what's happened in the Chinese markets, another GreekEuropean debt crisis, um more (overlap)
PM: (OVERLAP) BUT THAT – BUT THAT'S MY POINT.
SH: (OVERLAP) – fallen commodity prices. But my – I guess my point is, is Peter, that through those ups and downs this government has shown that it has a longterm plan and also ability to adapt to situations. We have made significant policy changes at times where we've needed to. What the other guys do is they simply propose (chuckle) the same policies all the time. We should always spend more. You know, this government has triple-
PM: WELL IN FAIRNESS THE NDP –
SH: overlap) – in all fairness –
PM: (overlap) SAYS IT WILL BALANCE THE BUDGET. THE LIBERALS SAY THEY WON'T.
SH: Well the –
PM:THEY WILL GO INTO DEFICIT.
SH: The NDP is promising – we have cost it $35 billion of annual spending promises. Not even their very high tax increases even come close to covering that number. The Liberal party has gone back and forth on whether deficits were good or bad. Same problem – they can't make their numbers add up so they admit they're running a deficit. But the fact is their policy is just spend more. You know, take infrastructure. We have tripled the amount of money the federal government is spending on national infrastructure. We have the biggest, longest term infrastructure plan in the history of this country and so the other guys come along and say, well we'll double or triple that. I mean come on, people aren't dumb. What's the new idea? If all you want to do is spend more, how are you going to pay for it? And if you pay for it, you will wreck the strong framework we have created – fiscal and other frameworks we have created – that I think most analysts agree will serve us pretty well through the times that are coming ahead.
PM: WELL HOW ARE YOU GOING TO PAY FOR IT? IT'S NOT LIKE YOU HAVEN'T MADE PROMISES THIS YEAR. (PLANE NOISE) MANY THROUGHOUT THIS YEAR, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH AND NEW PROGRAMS. A LOT O ANNOUNCEMENTS JUST IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE CAMPAIGN STARTED. HOW – HOW CONVINCED ARE YOU GIVEN THE UNCERTAIN ECONOMIC CLIMATE THAT YOU CAN COME IN WITH A SURPLUS POSITION AT THE END OF THE FISCAL.
SH: Well look, Peter, first of all it's not true that we have made – you know, the other guys have made tens of billions of promises. We have made large scale promises. All of the – all of the commitments we made prior to the election were from the budget. They were monies put in the budget for this year. I have made a handful of promises in this campaign that have some pri some significant price tag to them. We are not running an expensive campaign. And as I say, we're well – we're well within – our budget is well ahead where we thought it would be. But we're – we're going to be well within budget. Our – there is an order of magnitude difference between the scale of the campaign commitments we have made and what the other guys have made.
PM: WHAT WILL YOU DO OCTOBER 20 INTO YOUR OFFICE. YOU'VE GOT THE DOLLAR IN THE MID70s, OIL IN THE MID 40s. AND WE'RE IN A RECESSION. I APPRECIATE WHAT YOU'RE SUGGESTING ABOUT WHERE WE ARE BUT NEVERTHELESS THE DEFINITION IS THERE.
SH: Well look, no, I think the economy is growing now and I think it will be growing in October. It is growing now.
PM: WELL –
PM: –PROVEN IN THE LAST MONTH OF THE SIX MONTHS THAT HAVE BEEN REGISTERED SO FAR. HOWEVER, THE R WORD IS STILL ATTACHED TO THE CANADIAN ECONOMY AT THE MOMENT –
SH: Well –
PM: –IN TERMS OF THE BIG PICTURE.
SH: I think the truth is most – most – there's a real debate around economists among that. We have had job –
PM: GOSH WHAT A SURPRISE. (OVERLAP)
SH: We've had –
PM: –A DEBATE AMONG ECONOMISTS?
SH: No but – But we've had job creation over the period of the socalled recession. We've had the government's revenues growing over the period of the socalled recession. And the Bank of Canada and other analysts have said – we see the stats in nonexport – ah nonenergy exports. They have been rising. So I think the fact of the matter is, outside a segment of the economy the economy has been growing healthfully. But we have a challenge in that part of the economy.
PM: BUT BACK TO MY QUESTION, WHAT DO YOU DO DAY ONE? IS THERE ANYTHING YOU DO ON THE ECONOMY, ON THE ECONOMIC FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY GIVEN THOSE PARTICULARS IN TERMS OF WHAT WE'RE STACKED UP AGAINST.
SH: Well look we're doing the – we're going to continue doing the kinds of things that we have been doing. I mean obviously –
PM: SO NOTHING (OVERLAPPING) – NOTHING CHANGES.
SH: (overlap) – obviously the governor of the Bank of Canada will be handling monetary policy of the dollar and we all know that's – that's done independently and it should – as it should be. And we have great confidence in the governor and in the bank. But look, we will continue to deliver increased tax breaks and benefits to people where we can afford them. We'll continue to make investments. I've announced things in this campaign we're doing for the mining industry, we're doing to improve education and apprenticeships and training in key fields. So we will continue to make the investments we need to make to build this economy in the ah, in the longer term. That's – that's – that's what you need to do. But no, are we going to announce a big bunch of tax increases? You know, look at Alberta, an NDP experiment. So we've got a downturn in the oil sector. How do you respond? You hike taxes on business. What have you got? Now you've got a second round of layoffs. And we're not going to do that. We're not going to jump the country back into deficits because growth is a bit slower than (overlap) anticipated.
PM: (OVERLAP) BUT ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE CUTS? ARE THERE –
SH: No, no.
PM: – ARE THERE CUTS IN THE OFFING?
SH: No we don't have cuts in the offing.
PM: NO NEED FOR CUTS.
SH: We have – we have – We have – it's exactly what I said in 2011, Peter. I said – said, you asked me – I should pull up some of the things you said.
PM: NO, NO, YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THAT.
SH: We –
SH: You know, we said how will we balance the budget? We said we were going to balance by the budget by restraining the growth of spending and making sure that our revenue was able to catch up. That's exactly what we did. We've restrained our expenditure. We have not made deep cuts. Ah we've maintained programs and services. In fact, the core things – infrastructure, healthcare, education, the provinces – these are way up. So we've done exactly that. We'll continue to do that. There is no need for the government to engage in a program of massive ah cutback. What we do need to do always and all government should do is making sure they're modernizing their systems, thinning their bureaucracy and spending money well. But that is an ongoing battle in any organization.
PM: PART OF YOUR CAMPAIGN SLOGAN IS PROVEN LEADERSHIP.
PM: AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT LEADERSHIP FOR A MOMENT AS IT HAS COME TO LIGHT OVER THE LAST MONTH OR SO IN TERMS OF WHAT WAS GOING ON INSIDE YOUR OFFICE DURING THE WRIGHT – SOCALLED WRIGHTDUFFY AFFAIR. YOU FIRED YOUR CHIEF OF STAFF FOR – YOUR WORDS – DECEPTION, THAT HE DECEIVED YOU ON WHAT WAS GOING ON. UM THE DOCUMENTS THAT HAVE BEEN RELEASED PUBLICLY CLEARLY SUGGEST THAT THERE WAS A LOT MORE THAN HE WHO KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON. WITHIN YOUR OFFICE UPWARDS OF A DOZEN PEOPLE SOME OF WHOM WORK IN YOUR OFFICE. AT ANY POINT DID YOU GO TO THEM AND SAY, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME ABOUT THIS?
SH: Well look, Peter, I don't – I don't think the facts actually reflect that. As you know, these things are in dispute in a court. Many of the people –
PM: WELL IT'S NOT IN –
SH: No many of the people –
PM: IT'S IN NOT IN DISPUTE THAT THEY –
SH: Many of the people –
PM: –WERE SENT EMAILS OF BOTH THESE –
SH: Many of the pe – many of the people who are saying –
SH: – that you're saying knew, say clearly they don't knew – they didn't know. And I think in fact the bulk of the evidence is on their side. But I'll let the – look I'll let –
PM: BUT OTHERS THERE HAVE –
SH: – but I'll let –
PM: – HAVE SAID THEY DID KNOW.
SH: But I'll let the – I'll let the court resolve that. The chief of staff is the guy who reports to me. Ah I think he will be the first to admit it was his obligation to tell me that he had decided for reasons that really only he can explain, he had decided to go on a different course. I had told Mr. Duffy he should repay his expenses and I was told he had repaid his expenses which seemed to me the logical thing. It turned out of course that that hadn't happened. Mr. Wright had decided for his own reasons to repay them himself. He was the one acting, directing that and he had every obligation to tell me that. And, and I, I don't – You can't, you can't, Peter, place that obligation on people who work under him. That's just not fair.
PM: WELL –
SH: No it's not fair, Peter.
SH: (overlap) It's simply fair.
PM: (OVERLAP) I'M NOT PLACING THE OBLIGATION OTHER THAN ASKING YOU DID ANY OF THEM COME TO YOU AND SAY, LOOK, I'M SORRY, I SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT THIS. YOU KNOW, I WAS – I WAS ON THESE EMAILS, I DIDN'T READ THEM BUT I SHOULD HAVE AND I SHOULD HAVE TOLD YOU.
SH: Look, I think – I think there are people, obviously people would say, gee what could I have done differently or whatever but there –
PM: BUT HAVE THEY SAID THAT TO YOU?
SH: (overlap) – but there – Of course. But there's nothing – but there's no person that I think has done anything where, you know, any of those – There's no person on my staff that I believe deceived me or acted unethically or, or irresponsibly. They were – they were –
PM: OTHER THAN ONE PERSON.
SH: Um – other than Mr. Wright, yes.
PM: THAT NOBODY ELSE THERE IN SPITE OF WHAT WE'VE WITNESSED.
SH: (OVERLAP) Well –
PM: I MEAN –
SH: I'm – Look there's – there's nobody else on my staff today. There are conflicting stories and I'm not going to comment on whose story I believe (overlap) and who I don't.
PM: (OVERLAP) ABOUT OTHERS WHO WERE ON YOUR STAFF.
SH: And who I believe and who I don't. But Mr. Wright, he's their boss. You know, when you have problems with ah Jian Ghomeshi or Evan Solomon you don't go around firing everybody who worked for them. That's not the fair thing to do.
PM: ON THAT POINT, YOU'RE KNOWN AS SOMEBODY WHO – WHO IS NOT SHY ABOUT MAKING YOUR FEELINGS KNOWN –
PM: –WITHIN SMALL CIRCLES AND IN PRIVATE CIRCLES. YOU'RE ALSO KNOWN AS A BIT OF A CONTROL FREAK. AND THAT'S WHY A LOT OF PEOPLE CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON. THEY – AND THEY ALSO CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY AT SOME POINT YOU DIDN'T GO TO THE OFFICE AND SAID, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE.
SH: Well look, Peter I thought –
PM: –AFTER THE STORY BROKE.
SH: – until the story broke – until – I mean I found out the day after the story broke. Until the story broke the story seemed to me to be perfectly logical. I told Mr. Duffy to repay. He knew that. Mr. Wright, I told him the same thing. Mr. Wright told me Mr. Duffy had repaid. Why would I believe otherwise? Um it's unfortunate it didn't happen that way. Look I'll say at least the taxpayers got repaid. But my original instructions should have been fulfilled. And you know, obviously Mr. Wright will have to explain why he decided to do otherwise.
PM: BUT DID YOU GET MAD AT THOSE AROUND YOU WHEN THIS HAPPENED?
SH: Of course I'm upset. Of course I was upset about it, Peter. I mean I've been – I've been very upset about it and you know, you ask yourself, what could we do differently in the future. But you know, look, at some point I would say this. I went through a period where I was very angry. But you've just gotta let that anger go. You have to move on. We dealt with the situation. The two people responsible have been held accountable. The taxpayers have been repaid. And ah you know, and people are being held responsible for the actions.
PM: (OVERLAP) DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL REGRETS ABOUT THE WAY YOU HANDLED IT THROUGH ALL THIS?
SH: Oh, ah, probably a little bit. But I'm not gonna bare my soul here but –
PM: (OVERLAP) BUT WHY NOT?
SH: – we, we always go back and look how could we have done it differently. But I will say this. Like I – this was – not only did I not know, this was obviously completely contrary to what I wanted. Mr. Duffy himself has admitted – I told him he should repay it. I told him I wasn't going to defend what he did and I thought he should repay the expenses. He didn't. Um and ah look, I wish I'd been told that he wasn't going to because then I would have dealt with the situation very differently.
PM: HAVE YOU TALKED TO NIGEL WRIGHT SINCE YOU FIRED HIM?
SH: Ah just we had I think one very brief conversation.
PM: WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?
SH: It was just after he took a job in London and I wished him well.
PM: AND THERE WAS JUST – THAT WAS IT?
SH: Yeah. Yeah.
PM: DID YOU FIRE HIM OR DID HE QUIT?
SH: Well ah look, I made a decision. Um Mr. Wright accepted that decision.
PM: LAST QUESTION ON THIS POINT OF ACCOUNTABILITY.
PM: BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT GOT YOU INTO OFFICE RIGHT?
PM: YOU'D AGREE WITH THAT.
PM: UM WHEN CANADIANS LOOK AT A LIST OF SOME OF THE NAMES OF PEOPLE THAT YOU APPOINTED INTO POSITIONS. YOU MENTION DUFFY. BUT THE LIST GOES ON. YOU KNOW THERE'S 8, 10, 12 OF THEM WHO'VE EITHER BEEN CHARGED WITH SOMETHING, GONE TO JAIL BECAUSE OF SOMETHING OR SUSPICION HAS BEEN RAISED SURROUNDING THEM AND INVESTIGATIONS ARE UNDERWAY INTO INTO THE WAY THEY CONDUCTED THEIR OFFICE. DOES THAT REFLECT ON YOUR JUDGEMENT SEEING AS YOU APPOINTED THESE PEOPLE?
SH: Well look, I think in the Senate um we've had a problem with a range of senators appointed by me or others. Um I think it's a reflection on the institution. Ah I think everybody we've named for the Senate are people who have – have had significant success and responsibility in life and know better than to not get into trouble on expense accounts. But the Senate has been an unaccountable institution with the vaguest of rules and enforcement. And I think this is a reflection of that. I would say, look at least what all of this has done is forced the Senate now to have clear rulers, enforce their application and accountability. Look, I'd say in other cases, this is a government where, you know I think if you look at the record of our Cabinet and our government, um I think people may not agree with all the decisions we make but I think they generally can agree that money is being expended on the things it's supposed to be expended on. And I think auditorgeneral's report after auditorgeneral's report has confirmed that.
PM: I WANT TO LOOK AT THE BROADER INTERNATIONAL SITUATION FOR A MOMENT UM AND THE ISIS SITUATION SPECIFICALLY. IS THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS WINNABLE – AND I ASK THAT BECAUSE MORE AND MORE ANALYSTS AND GENERALS SAY THIS WAR WILL NEVER BE WON SOLELY FROM THE AIR. THAT THERE HAS TO BE GROUND FORCES SUPPLIED BY THE COUNTRIES INVOLVED, DIRECTLY INVOLVED, THE IRAQS, ETC. AS OPPOSED TO WESTERN FORCES.
PM: BUT THOSE COUNTRIES DON'T SEEM TO BE ABLE TO FIGHT ON THE GROUND. THERE'S A QUESTION OF WILLINGNESS, THE QUESTION OF ABILITY. THIS AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE OF BEING TRAINED BY –
PM: –COUNTRIES INCLUDING OURS. SO IS THIS A WINNABLE WAR?
SH: Well in fairness I don't think we have been involved in any military training in Iraq until just very recently.
SH: Um and we have – we are training a good fighting force in Northern Iraq. The Kurds and the people we're allied with there have been doing a very – a very good job. It's a very solid force. And in the southern part of the country we have a different – obviously a different situation.
SH: But look, I think that analysis is all correct. Um to really defeat this opponent and roll them back, there's going to have to be a more effective ground force. And I don't think um there's any desire or willingness for that to come from our country. We've got to continue to do what we can to ah train people on the ground there in that country, in the region. And in the case of Syria particularly there's obviously got to be a political solution that goes beyond the fighting. And the real problem in Syria, there's no one to support or –
SH: –in our judgement almost no one to support. You've got the Assad government and you've got ah the jihadist extremists. These essentially are most of the fighters. So unless you can –
PM: BUT THERE'S NO INDICATION (OVERLAP) OF ANY POLITICAL (OVERLAP) SOLUTION TO THAT.
SH: (overlap) Unless you can – unless you can pull moderate elements out of both camps you don't have a political solution. Well look, there's – Peter, this is a very messy situation. It's terrible. No there's no instant solution. But what we do know is that we cannot just withdraw, allow ISIS to spread the way it was spreading a year ago and use this as a staging area for international terrorist attacks against the world including against us. That's why –
PM: (OVERLAP) SO ARE WE IN FOR THE LONG HAUL THEN?
SH: (overlap) That's why it remains important, even with the deficiency of the ground forces in the region that we keep this organization on the defensive.
PM: SO WE'RE IN FOR THE LONG HAUL?
SH: We have to be in for the long haul. Um you know, I'm not hearing – you know, it's easy for the Liberals or NDP to say we're going to pull out Canadian forces. But I don't think our allies are going to say we could all pull out. That would be an absolute catastrophe, not just for the region. You know, not just adding tens of millions more refugees and displaced persons like as we've been talking about the last few days but it will present very quickly a radical escalation and a security threat to our own countries. We cannot tolerate that.
PM: LET ME PICK YOU UP ON THE POINT OF THE MIGRANTS.
PM: AND SORT OF THE BROADER QUESTION. ARE WE, AND WHEN I SAY WE, I DON'T MEAN CANADA BUT THE WEST IN GENERAL, ARE WE DOING ENOUGH TO HELP OUT THAT SITUATION IN TERMS OF THE MIGRANTS, THE REFUGEE SITUATION? AFTER A SITUATION THAT IN MANY WAYS HAS BEEN CREATED BY US, THE BIG US ONCE AGAIN IN TERMS OF THE WEST, THROUGH WHETHER IT WAS IRAQ, SYRIA SUPPORTING THE REBELS TRYING TO BRING DOWN – ER THE INSURGENTS TRYING TO BRING DOWN ASSAD, OR IN LIBYA. YOU CAN POINT TO THE WEST AS BEING PART OF THE REASON WHY WE GOT –
SH: Yeah I –
PM: –INTO THIS SITUATION.
SH: I don't think this, this is really fundamentally the responsibility of the West. But I would agree that um we have, as rich, privileged nations, we have an – we have an obligation to help and we have significant (overlap)
PM: (OVERLAP) BUT ARE WE DOING ENOUGH?
SH: – security interests in doing so.
PM: BUT ARE WE DOING ENOUGH?
SH: Are we doing enough? Um what's enough? What's enough, Peter?
PM: WELL UN – THE UN –
SH: What's enough? What's enough, Peter? There are millions, millions of displaced persons that we know of in camps etc. There are tens of millions of other people whose survival, day to day survival is in jeopardy. There is no, as I've said earlier, notwithstanding how terrible this is, there is no refugee based solution alone to that problem. We – we're not going to bring millions and tens of millions of people out of these regions. We can't depopulate them. That's – that's not a solution. (OVERLAP) That's obviously part of the solution. We try and help those who are most vulnerable. We're providing – the government of Canada is providing very generous amounts of international aid. I think it's a problem that the humanitarian aid appeals on the ground are still seriously undersubscribed but we're trying there. But we also have to do that we can to counter the cause of this problem which is – which is a violent movement attempting to conquer an area and kill and displace millions and millions of people.
PM: BUT ARE WE RESIGNING OURSELVES TO THE FACT THAT WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP LOOKING AT PICTURES LIKE WE SAW THE OTHER DAY OF A TWO YEAR OLD BOY?
SH: I don't know we resign ourselves to it in the sense that, you know, God help us we ever get to the standpoint where that doesn't affect us. As I said today, you know, and Laureen showed me this yesterday. It was the early part of the day. We were looking at the computer and you know, the first thing you see is our own son as a 2 year old running on the beach. I mean how, how can you not be affected by that? I say what, what's terrible about it – I don't need to tell anybody this is a tragedy. But it's, it's a million, 10 million times bigger than that. That's the tragedy. And ah you know, we're going to – we've got a very ugly situation that has real potential implications on us and we're going to have to operate on all paths to try and fix it. It's not just enough to turn around and say, oh let's admit more refugees. We can admit thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands more refugees and we are still going to see those kinds of images. So we've got to be doing a lot more than that.
PM: OKAY. I'M ALMOST OUT OF TIME BUT THERE'S TWO QUESTIONS I WANT TO TRY AND GET IN. ONE IS ON A SITUATION IF WE END UP IN A MINORITY GOVERNMENT SITUATION.
PM: WHICH THE POLLS WILL SUGGEST IS THE LIKELIHOOD NOW. POLLS CHANGE. A LONG WAY TO GO IN THE CAMPAIGN. BUT YOU NEVER HAD ANY RESISTANCE TALKING ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF MINORITIES AND COALITIONS AND WHATEVER IN THE LAST ELECTION CAMPAIGN. SO I'M ASSUMING I CAN ASK YOU ON –
SH: You can ask me.
SH: Oh ask me.
PM: HERE'S THE QUESTION THOUGH. UM IS IT A CORRECT ASSUMPTION TO MAKE THAT WHICHEVER PARTY ENDS UP, IF WE'RE IN A MINORITY SITUATION, WHICHEVER PARTY ENDS UP WITH THE MOST SEATS SHOULD FORM THE GOVERNMENT?
SH: Yeah that's my – that's I think how conventionally our system works and for good reason and that's – that's my position. Obviously our view is we're going to win and we're going to win strong. Ah but ah my position has always been if we win the most seats I will expect to form the government and if we don't, I won't.
PM: SO EVEN AS THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT, IS YOU'RE JUST A COUPLE OF SEATS BEHIND, YOU WOULDN'T TRY TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO –
SH: No. No.
PM: YOU WOULD RESIGN.
SH: Yeah. Well I would not serve as prime minister. No I think you – you have to have the most seats in Parliament to go to the governor general and that's – you know, in this country in our system, we have what's called a Westminster style system, um and we don't – we don't, you know, elect a bunch of parties who then as in some countries, get together and decide who will – who will govern. We ask people to make a choice of a government. And so I think that the party that wins the most seats should form the government.
PM: HERE'S THE LAST QUESTION. I'M ASKING EACH OF THE LEADERS THIS AND IT'S MORE OF A PERSONAL QUESTION. WELL IT IS A PERSONAL QUESTION. IT'S NOT ABOUT POLITICS, IT'S NOT ABOUT POLICY, IT'S ABOUT YOU. SO THE QUESTION THEN IS WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOU, STEPHEN HARPER, THAT YOU FEEL SHOULD MAKE A GOOD PRIME MINISTER?
SH: You know, we were talking about this a bit earlier. You're now trying to put me in the Donald Trump position.
PM: (LAUGH) WELL IF YOU WANT TO GIVE –
SH: (overlap) – where I'm going to talk – I'm going to talk –
PM: (OVERLAP) – ME A DONALD TRUMP ANSWER, I'M ALL EARS.
SH: (overlap) – talk about my – talk about myself and say we're the smartest person ever. Um look, um I think we've got the right plan for the country. I've laid that out to you.
PM: BUT THAT'S POLICY. I'M TALKING (OVERLAP) ABOUT YOU.
SH: No the policy is all part of it. Um I think we've got the right plan for the country. I think I've got a great team, cabinet, MPs, people all around us. We've got the most solid political organization in the country. I think that's reflective of something. And I think we've got a pretty good record during a time of incredible challenges where everybody knows things could be a hell of a lot worse, if they're looking at just about any other country. So um look, I will say to people I'm, you know, I, I love the job. Um it's ah, it's an honour to serve this country. It's been – I'll never have an experience like it again. Um but it's the people's decision and I accept whatever that decision is. And ah I'm hopeful that we'll get another mandate. But if we don't, um look, all I say is that it's been a great honour to serve. And I think we've done a good job and we can continue doing a good job.
PM: MR. HARPER THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR TIME.
SH: Thanks for having me.