Canada Politics

Stephen Harper takes to the airwaves to defend Senate suspension motions

Canada Politics

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers a question in the House of Commons on Oct. 23, 2013

You know that the Conservatives are reeling when Prime Minister Stephen Harper does a one-on-one interview.

In the midst of what can probably be described as his most tumultuous time in his reign as prime minister, Harper actually took to the airwaves on Friday, to discuss the Senate, the EU trade deal and the economy.

Here's a teaser from Toronto's Newstalk 1010 interview which was aired at 5pm (EST).

In addition to his defence of the three Conservative motions to suspend Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau, the prime minister reiterated that he was not forewarned about the $90,000 cheque his chief of staff, Nigel Wright, gave to Duffy.

"Obviously I didn't know and obviously had I known about this I would have told Mr. Wright not to undertake these actions as I think, frankly, you know would be just about everybody's reaction in these circumstances," he said.

"I think I had every right to know. I think I should have been told. I think I clearly should have been consulted. I was not. And obviously...Mr. Wright, in fairness, has accepted that that was wrong. He has accepted his responsibility for that and he is no longer on the public payroll which is another reason why the senators shouldn't be either."

[ Related: Brazeau said he was offered 'backroom deal' by government leader in the Senate ]

The interview is with what's called a friendly - John Tory, of course, is the former leader of the Ontario PC Party.

But, in the midst of the ongoing Senate expense scandal and the ongoing debate in the upper chamber about the suspension motion, it's kind of refreshing to see the leader of our government stand up and be accountable.

Since coming into office in 2006, the prime minister has — for the post part — operated behind a veil of government press releases and talking points.

"Mr. Harper being the only prime minister in memory not to submit to open-ended press conferences, are well documented," Lawrence Martin wrote in the Globe and Mail last year.

"Journalists complain, but to no avail. Gone are the days when prime ministers appeared before open audiences and faced hecklers, when they submitted to questioning at lengthy media sessions or when they were photographed in non-controlled environments."

[ Related: Threats, vendettas, exploitation and fraud: The week that was in the Canadian Senate ]

The rare open-ended NewsTalk 1010 interview can be heard at their website.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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