View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Nothing Wrong with Talking to the Opposition – January 26, 2011

Ottawa ON – Part of the pre-election narrative centres on the spin from the Opposition camps that the Prime Minister is refusing to meet with them to discuss potential options for the budget. They then whip this up into various attack lines that this refusal shows that Stephen Harper really wants to force an election.

Whether or not their conclusion is accurate or not, there is no harm in having the three Opposition leaders over for a chat. This has happened in the past and there is no real reason not to have one now.

For a PMO spokesperson to put out a line that Harper doesn’t need to meet Layton as they know what he wants from what Layton says in his speeches is about as dumb a comment as one can make.

It is important for the leaders to have face time with each other. All of them have a public,  pre-election profile that they must maintain both to keep their troops in readiness for an election and to keep the public on their side. In private however, they can express their own personal views to each other. They can discuss other options that concern each of them and which might not reflect the “spin” their party is putting out.

Anyone who has worked in this PMO or any other one knows that room can always be found on a Prime Minister’s schedule for a meeting with another party leader. The best case would see some positive conclusions coming from the meetings and an election averted. The worse case scenario is that nothing changes and the spin machine for each party will continue to whip up the pre-election rhetoric.  What is wrong with talking, it could be time well spent.

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