The leader of the federal NDP, Tom Mulcair, has claimed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's traditional backers are starting to reject the governing party.
"What's starting to happen is even people who've been supportive, including some of the Toronto right-wing media—who've been very supportive of the Conservatives—are starting to turn on them because they realize they've reached a breaking point in terms of their respect for the very institutions that have given Canada peace, order, and good government for almost 150 years," Mulcair said in an interview today at the Georgia Straight office.
The NDP leader noted that parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page recently pointed out that the government kept two sets of books for the F-35 fighter-jet program.
The public was told that taxpayers would pay $15 billion, including operating costs, but the real price was $25 billion.
"So this is not a rounding error—$10 billion," Mulcair said. "That has to be done intentionally and it was done with intent to deceive."
Whereas Liberal Leader Bob Rae has targeted his attacks over the F-35 fighter jets directly on Harper, Mulcair's criticism was directed more generally at the Conservatives.
Mulcair also condemned the Conservatives for imposing closure 18 times in Parliament over the past year, which he characterized as "unprecedented by any government".
That, he said, was in addition to the Conservatives holding committee meetings behind closed doors.
"One of the problems with all opposition parties over the years is this strong tendency to maybe cry wolf or play chicken little—use whichever image you want to use—but to affirm that the government sitting opposite is absolutely the worst thing in the history of the country," Mulcair stated.
Then he paused before declaring: "It's true. The Conservatives show no respect for the fundamental institutions of our democracy—are doing everything to break the parliamentary institutions of our democracy."
He claimed this was true in the "in-and-out scandal", where the party and senior operatives were found guilty of violating Canada's election-expense law. Mulcair also said we're seeing this pattern repeat itself in the robocall scandal.
"Think that through: Conservative agents paid to phone people in their homes to send them miles and miles away to another polling station, impersonating officers of Elections Canada, to break an election result and produce a different result," he said. "That's a breakdown of democracy. It's a breakdown of law, and it's something extremely serious. The facile goofball answers that they keep putting up in the House are pathetic. I'm reassured, nonetheless, to hear that the director-general of elections is working very hard on the case. I'm expecting prosecutions."
Mulcair emphasized that the Conservatives are the only ones under investigation.
"What we're seeing is repeat behaviour by the Conservatives where they believe that in their view, they're serving a higher purpose—that they're allowed to cheat," he declared. "That is the essence of the Conservatives. They believe that they're allowed to cheat on elections. And once they win, they just stand somebody up in the House to give these ridiculous answers that they prepare as talking points."
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.