NDP recordings proof of power grab, Tory MP alleges

Recordings of a private NDP caucus meeting prove opposition efforts to unseat the government aren't linked to the economic downturn but are a simple power grab, says a Conservative MP.

Recordings of a private NDP caucus meeting prove opposition efforts to unseat the government aren't linked to the economic downturn but are a simple power grab, says a Conservative MP.

"That's what's so frightening to many Canadians … that we have now a backroom deal between the separatists and the socialist NDP, and we also have the Liberals who might be involved," Pierre Poilievre told CBC Newsworld on Monday.

The Conservatives on Sunday released audio files of a secretly recorded NDP caucus meeting they say was held in the form of a conference call on Saturday.

During the meeting, NDP Leader Jack Layton, referring to the prospect of forming a coalition government with the Liberals, which would need the support of the Bloc Québécois, to replace the Harper government, says:

"This whole thing would not have happened if the moves hadn't been made with the Bloc to lock them in early."

The Tories said they released the recording because it shows the NDP was working very closely with the separatist Bloc Québécois to replace the government long before last Thursday's economic update.

"Canadians want to know what concessions have been made to [BQ Leader]] Gilles Duceppe in order to win his support for this power grab. What concessions on economic policies have been made to the far-left NDP?"

Opposition parties are meeting to hammer out details of a possible coalition if they vote down the minority Conservative government next week. Opposition leaders say Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not taken sufficient action to address the economic downturn.

But Poilievre, who is Harper's parliamentary secretary, said the NDP recordings show efforts to unseat the government started well before the economic update was delivered last week.

"The controversy they've raised about that [economic] update was all just a foil to cover up what is really a backroom deal, " said Poilievre.

NDP deputy leader Thomas Mulcair said the meeting was illegally recorded and broadcast and that the party may take legal action.

In a news release, the party said that according to legal advice it has received, any reasonable person given inadvertent access to the call should have understood that they were not authorized to record it.

The party said possession of the recording could be an offence under the Criminal Code and any recordings should be handed over to the RCMP in the event of an investigation.

The NDP has also asked media outlets to return the recordings.

Not same as 2004: MP

Poilievre rejected suggestions by the NDP that its co-operation with the Bloc was no different than what Conservatives did in 2004. At the time, opposition parties wrote then-Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson noting she could be asked to dissolve Parliament should the Commons defeat the Liberal minority government.

"We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation," says the Sept. 9, 2004, letter signed by Harper, Duceppe and Layton.

"We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise, this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority."

Poilievre said the situation is not the same.

"The word 'coalition' never appeared," he said. "It never suggested in the letter that … then opposition leader Harper would become prime minister.

"All it said is that opposition leaders who represent the majority of the House should be consulted before the dissolution of Parliament.

"You can look through all the records, and you will find that Stephen Harper has never even … remotely entertained a coalition with the BQ. "

With files from the Canadian Press