Stephen Harper and Jean Charest (base image by (CP PHOTO/Fred Chartrand)

Confusion on priority priority

West Bay, Nova Scotia - Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - by: Dr. Phyllis Wagg
During the Press Conference after the Premiers dinner with the Prime Minister, Jean Charest said "Mr. Harper set five priorities for himself," said Charest. "The number 1 priority, as I understand it, is fiscal imbalance." *

During the election in an English press release from Conservative Party Harper set out his five priorities as:

  • Clean up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act;
  • Provide read tax relief to working families by cutting the GST;
  • Make our streets and communities safer by cracking down on crime;
  • Help parents with the cost of raising their children; and
  • Work with the provinces to establish a Patient Wait Times Guarantee.

There is no mention of fiscal imbalance. In fact the news release indicates that Harper had set out his priorities to distinguish himself from Paul Martin because he is quoted as saying:

"The only way to decipher any sort of hierarchy among Paul Martin's many priorities was to separate those that were very important from those that were very, very important."

Was Charest mistaken? On some points there was a different communications strategy in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. Could that be why Charest believes Harper's number one priority is the fiscal imbalance? Did Harper have a different set of priorities for Quebec than for the other provinces?

Phyllis Wagg
PH.D. History

References :
CBC news staff PM and premiers end meeting without promise of more money, February 24, 2006, CBC News
Sequin, Rheal, Harper, Charest plan third meeting, February 6, 2006, Toronto Globe and Mail

Gordon, Sean, Harper, Charest to meet in Ottawa, February 15, 2006, Toronto Star


Canadian Press, Harper, Charest keeping mum as they head into lunch meeting at 24 Sussex, February 15, 2006,


Toronto Star, Editorial: Rethinking federalism, February 28, 2006, Toronto Star


Gwyn, Richard, Machiavelli, Magna Carta and fiscal federalism, February 28, 2006, Toronto Star




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