MICHAEL HARRIS (Host): It may be summer. You may be cooking up some wonders on your barbecue, but politics are never very far off in our country. And you just heard on this program both Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail and Darrell Bricker of Ipsos-Reid, both saying there is in their opinion a very reasonable chance weıll be going to the polls this fall. Well, I have reached the man who will know the answer to that question. He is Senator Mike Duffy. He is speaking to us on his cell phone. And itıs been a while Mike. Itıs good to hear your voice.

MIKE DUFFY (Senator, Conservative Party of Canada): Good to hear you Mike. Listening all the time of course from the mighty 50,000 watt (inaudible).

HARRIS: Now listen. You are personally, single-handedly responsible for at least ten stories today saying Mike Duffy is getting ready, getting Prince Edward Islanders ready for a trip to the polls. I know you have fun when you do your speeches. But is there a real possibility in your view, as bereft as the Liberals are of ideas except for EI reform, that they could force an election come the fall?

DUFFY: Well, first of all Michael, I donıt think we should have an election. And let me just rewind the tape for a second.


DUFFY: I gave a speech yesterday to the Rotary Club of Charlottetown, in which I never used the word election, and frankly, never mentioned the Prime Minister, I gave a very dry, because as you know, Rotary is a non-political body, I gave a very dry report card on the more than 200 million additional dollars this government has poured into Prince Edward Island.


DUFFY: I was never asked about an election. I never used the word election. I never mentioned the Prime Minister by name in my speech or by his office. And yet the headline comes out this morning, Duffy refuses to dampen speculation of an election and sings the praises of the Prime Minister in a speech laden with rhetoric. Well, Michael...

HARRIS: You didnıt mention the Prime Minister at all.

DUFFY: I didnıt mention the Prime Minister. I didnıt ever use the word election or make any reference to it because I didnıt want to hurt the neutral ears of the Rotarians, who do so much great work. And I thought, donıt drag that dirty political thing in here.


DUFFY: Weıll, weıll give it as a very factual thing. And here it is, and the newspaper reporter never asked me about an election or about anything else related to the Prime Minister. She had no, repeat, no questions, so, at least not of the national scene. She asked something about a local community college. But that was it. And then I wake up this morning and here theyıve got me singing the praises, great rhetoric. Well, let me tell you, as much as I like to think that every speech is a good one, theyıve obviously never heard me when Iıve gotten going as we have. And so, they put it, all this great rhetoric. I was reading a grocery list of, of projects for the island. So anyway, this whole thing is manufactured. And I was thinking so much about you today as I read the paper and the brilliant column you wrote in last weekıs Sun about wafergate in New Brunswick, where the editors made it up. It had nothing to do with what the reporter said. And so, Iım saying to myself, my God, this is like the virus or something. Itıs creeping across provincial borders. Now all of a sudden the Charlottetown paper canıt just report the news. Theyıve got to make it up.

HARRIS: Did you, did you get a chance to speak to the reporter?

DUFFY: Well, I havenıt seen her today. I saw her yesterday. And, well, in fact I was at an event this morning. And by the time it was finished and I went over, she had jumped in her car and fled. So, I didnıt get a chance. But you know, never get in a fight with people who buy ink by the, by the barrel. I mean, itıs another example. Here it is in the quiet summertime and everybodyıs bound and determined to try and create something. Now, let me get back to your question.


DUFFY: I donıt think thereıs any need for an election. What is the outstanding burning issue thatıs got to be resolved? I think the governmentıs frankly ­ and this is my honest opinion ­ done a good job.

And I think weıve seen the governor of the bank, Mark Carney, come out and say weıre just about to hit bottom. That doesnıt mean that itıs all going to be solved in the next three or four months, because as you well know, in economics thereıs a lag time and there will be still people getting bad news and pink slips before weıre out of this. But I think weıve done remarkably well as a country and I give credit to all levels of government. Look at all the stuff Stephen Harperıs been doing with Dalton McGuinty. There was a time a year ago when they barely spoke to each other because everybody was clawing for partisan advantage. But now theyıre buddy-buddy, flying on the same plane together and working together because this is bigger than politics. This is the future of our country. And so, every once in a while the little terriers or whatever they are around here will nip at your heels. But as Dief used to say, ah, when youıre on the trail of big game donıt get sidetracked by rabbit tracks. And thatıs what we have here in, thatıs what we had in the Charlottetown Guardian, rabbits thumping where there wasnıt tracks. It might have been something else.

HARRIS: Well, Iıll tell you what. It was certainly picked up, it was picked up everywhere. I used to, when I wrote my columns for the Globe and Mail youıd sometimes pick up a news piece or a column and you wouldnıt recognize your work under the headline. And I always used to have kind of a instant reflex to call the editor and say, you know, of all the things to have taken out of the column, why did you, why did you make it about that? I wrote a column once about a fellow you know, Bill Rowe, a former politician in Newfoundland, almost became premier, and they called the column, which was a respectful piece outlining some of the things he did, Reflections on a Derailed Life. So, he called me up and he said, derailed life? I mean, at that time had a television show.

DUFFY: He was a Rhodes Scholar.

HARRIS: Thatıs right, yeah. So he found it hard, hard to deal with that.

I want to just...

DUFFY: People in Toronto, you know, the thought control centre, and some of thatıs infected them down here. So thank heavens most of the public doesnıt take that seriously. They count on people like you to keep them straight Michael.

HARRIS: One last little point. The, you said that looking out at the political landscape thereıs no really big idea. If you take a look back in history, Trudeau...

DUFFY: Iım saying big issue.

HARRIS: Trudeau (inaudible) did the thing on EI, EI availability and making it easier to get it and the unemployment rate actually went up two percent. The only big idea I see them talking about is EI reform if you cost that as a big idea. But I donıt think you can frame an election around that.

DUFFY: No. And I think the issue in the election will be management in tough times. And whatever people may think about Stephen Harper, thatıs heıs not, he doesnıt grin enough and doesnıt kiss enough babies or whatever else they can say, the fact of the matter is is that he did not remain true to hard rock conservative ideology. This was the one case in a million when Keynesian economics was called for and he went for it.

And there was a lot of people grumbling, as I say, at the Rotary as I came in. There were people talking about deficit spending, why did we bail out the auto industry. The auto industry is really very simple and I donıt know why the media hasnıt made it clear. Itıs one thing if you allowed Chrysler and GM to shut down in Canada. Youıd lose 20,000 jobs and thatıs a tragedy. But then the protectionists in the States would say, letıs get back at Canada for what they did, and theyıd tear up the Auto Pact and then we lose the parts business, which is a quarter-of-a-million or 300,000 jobs. So, while we might want to beat our chests, the reality is that with Mr. Obama in the White House our options are pretty limited. And I think we, as a country, have been doing very well with all politicians working together. And I hope that at the end of the day Mr. Ignatieff will see that itıs not worth putting the country through an election this fall. Thereıs lots of time for that after weıre out of the woods and let people make their decisions then.

HARRIS: Mike, a great pleasure to talk to you. You enjoy the rest of this summer day and I hope to talk to you again very soon.

DUFFY: All the best Michael. Great to hear you as always.

HARRIS: Take care. That is Senator Mike Duffy, talking to us on his cell phone, I think, from beautiful Prince Edward Island.