Does my headline exaggerate? Decide for yourselves. A Liberal party television ad now saturating the airwaves tries to scare voters by claiming Prime Minister Stephen Harper once argued that the federal government should scrap the Canada Health Act. But hold on a moment: the claim is a lie.
PM Harper never spoke the words cited in the ad. And, apparently, the Liberal Party knows this since it cannot provide a source for this quote. Nor, for that matter, can the New Democrats. CBC News reports that:
“CBC had tried last week to track down the quote but wasn’t able to confirm it. The Conservatives contacted the media on Monday to announce their demand the Liberals remove the ad.”
According to the CBC, the Liberal Party attributes the quote to an August 26, 2010 Globe and Mail article with the headline: “It’s Past Time the Feds Scrapped the Canada Health Act.” And, although that line did so appear, its author, André Picard, was citing PM Harper from a 1997 statement he supposedly made while serving as vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC).
However, that the quotation belongs to NCC president David Somerville, not PM Harper. The line appeared in the June 1997 issue of Bulldog, the NCC newsletter, Conservative spokesman Mike White wrote in an email. And the Liberal Party knows it, because, as Mr. White wrote, the Liberal Party correctly attributed the comment to Mr. Somerville in the Liberals’ own 2004 essay, “Stephen Harper and the National Citizens’ Coalition,” at page 5, footnote 20.
Had Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff lived in Canada back then, he’d probably have know this. Perhaps he’ll now call on Grits to “rise up!” and condemn misleading Liberal advertising.