Why it's not a bad idea to bet that Stephen Harper will resign in 2014

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been a quitter in the past.

Poll

Will Stephen Harper resign as prime minister in 2014?

Yes 37%
52 votes
No 50%
70 votes
Maybe 13%
18 votes

Just look at the record.

In his 20s, he didn't last long as a parliamentary aide to former Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes, resigning long before the 1988 election.

Harper also quit the Progressive Conservatives and joined the Reform Party, later running against Hawkes in Calgary West.

In 1993, Harper became an MP, but he didn't seek re-election. He chose to quit electoral politics so he could take a job with the right-wing National Citizens Coalition.

Later, Harper quit working for this group and won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance in 2002.

His party later merged with the Progressive Conservatives, which was headed by Peter MacKay.

It's been more than a decade since Harper has resigned from a job or switched parties, so the aura of Harper as a quitter has faded from the public's consciousness.

But his office has seen a revolving door of communications directors and chiefs of staff.

And he's come off his worst year yet as prime minister, with his former chief of staff under criminal investigation in the wake of the Senate scandal.

Consider what his former girlfriend, Cynthia Williams, told Postmedia journalist Mark Kennedy last year. 

She said that before Harper was bitten by the political bug, he used to dream of working for the United Nations or for a global international company.

In recent years, Harper has taken great joy in travelling to different countries as prime minister to play the role of a statesmen. He leaves Canada several times a year, most famously when he went to China to snuggle with a panda bear.

Harper gets treated with a great deal more respect in foreign capitals than he ever experiences from the media at home.

Harper is in Vancouver

Later today, Harper is expected to speak to the Vancouver Board of Trade.

No doubt, he'll make the case that his government is best-suited to promote economic growth.

He may even throw in some positive words about various pipeline proposals. This will fuel speculation that he's ready to seek reelection in 2015.

But there's nothing he would probably despise more than losing an election to a Liberal Party of Canada led by Justin Trudeau.

Harper is smart enough to know that in the modern era, few premiers and prime ministers last more than 10 years in their positions. After a decade, voters yearn for a fresh face.

So if someone offers Harper a parachute, such as becoming director-general of the World Trade Organization or senior vice president of a major chartered bank, don't be surprised if he grabs onto it.

That's because Harper knows he's probably already reached his best-before date in the eyes of the the Canadian electorate, and his party just might fare better with someone else in the top job.

Comments (31) Add New Comment
Sir Maos
Seems like a hastily-put-together column. What was the rush? Just because Big Harp's in town?
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Rating: -14
Charles Sirois
Go ahead, bet all you own or owe.

Vitriolic pieces such as this show the darker side of Canada, and journalism. Their source isn't surprising. Left-leaning publications are hurting for readership and web 'hits' so they feel they have to be more provocative to hold their core 'supporters'. So bet it all. Harper has won three federal elections in a row and has Canada on the best course in history, finally able to pay down the monstrous debt rung up by Trudeau through the 1970s while still providing for Canadians. He has got us out of Afghanistan, reduced military spending after properly equipping troops put there and at-risk by Chretien, negotiated sweeping trade deals appropriate for the country with the world's longest coastline, and kept unemployment below the American numbers for an historic length of time. I want Harper to stay PM for 20 years. Canada needs such a steady hand at the wheel.
Rating: -95
Walt
What fiction have you been reading. Charles?
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Rating: +64
Dan Calda
@Charles.

"I want Harper to stay PM for 20 years."...guess you also have no use for democracy. Are you that much of a true believer?...or just a Party worker?

Stephen J. Harper has added more to our National Debt then Pierre Trudeau. But hey, cheer lead all you want..you just sound silly.
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Rating: +58
Arthur Vandelay
Charlie, time to fire someone who proofed this copy. They didn't pick up your obvious spelling mistake where you misspelled "Tom Mulcair" as "Justin Trudeau".
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Rating: +26
Thomas folkestone
Pay down trudeau's debt? What a joke, our national debt is at record high levels thanks to Flaherty and Harper. Pull the wool over your own eyes!

I'd write an essay here on how your unemployment stats are equally mendacious, but I've gotta go to work. Unlike yourself, I am not a paid troll.
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Rating: +50
Postandbeam
I agree with Charles Sirois on all points and would add that support for separation in Quebec is also low. Harper may not be well liked in Quebec but he has not given the PQ any ammunition to shout out against 'the Federal', the way it used to constantly be under Chrétien.
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Bobs youruncle
Charlie, Charlie,Charlie.........your quote "able to pay down the monstrous debt rung up by Trudeau" How about the 156 Billion dollars our present prime ministers has added to the debt since 2008. Yea that 156 Billion in 5 years and you think he is the fiscal manager to take us forward. It must be that reform / conservative blue sky colour blinding you.
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Rating: +40
Forest
Charles Sirois - Are you Serious? Just because you can tell a lie (or several lies, in this case), doesn't mean it's true. The Conservatives inherited a huge surplus, thanks to Martin, and they notoriously burnt through it within a year. They increased military spending (again, notoriously, without tendering contracts) on mostly useless war machinery. The Tories have also cut the benefits of those soldiers who put their lives at risk in Afghanistan, while cutting benefits to those Canadians who are most at risk of poverty (women and children). Finally, Alberta is the only Canadian province which has seen employment rise, which is fitting, seeing how much money this government has poured into the province over the past 5 years (see StatsCan. Nov. 2013).
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Rating: +32
A. MacInnis
Interesting: my impression was that Harper had ADDED to the debt... there are still Canadian forces (admittedly a dwindling number) in Afghanistan... sweeping trade deals = selling off our resources to China and the USA... He hardly deserves credit, given the US economic meltdown, for our unemployment being below the US, since he shares so much of the neoliberal economic agenda that contributed to that meltdown... add to that his government's lack of respect for science and scientists, their hideous record in terms of the environment, and the ugly scandals that have dogged them, and I'd like Harper to leave office while I still recognize this country... though I think Charlie's being a little wishful here, since Harper does seem to have the tenacity of a believer to him...
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Rating: +31
bruther
This is dreaming in Technicolor. Harper will lead the party to the bitter end - he'll never have more power than this. He knows, and his party knows, that he's the only person who can hold this messy alliance of conservatives together. If he goes down - which I doubt - he'll take the party with him.
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Rating: +28
politics101
" finally able to pay down the monstrous debt"
The debt when Harper became PM and government was around $489 Billion - today it is near $630 Billion and still climbing. He inherited a budgetary surplus and has yet after all these years in power to produce a balanced or surplus budget - he closes a coast guard station yet has money to take foreign trips. Sounds like good economic leadership to me. He gives large tax breaks to the banks and profitable corporations and yet bemoans that they are banking the money and not doing the intended and that is stimulate the economy by expanding and creating jobs. Sounds like good economic leadership to me. He voted to send troops to Iraq at what cost in lives and money. He was going to reform the senate - did a good job of that - Sounds like good leadership doesn't it.
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Rating: +24
Xtina
Yes let's look at PM Steve's record since coming to power in 2006.
Prorogating Parliament twice, fined for campaign overspending, voter suppression schemes,Elections Canada has spent over $1.5 million on legal matters involving the Conservative party since 2005, and these are all "first-time-ever" events for our Parliamentary democracy.
As for Steve's economic policy it's hard to separate the facts from the Economic Action Plan propaganda. Canadian household debt is at a historical high. The Harper government approach to creating employment is reduce EI and job retraining programmes, greatly expand the Temporary Foreign Worker agenda and harass organized labour.
Harper isn't even a lawyer so if he is retiring there will be no distinguished legal career awaiting him, like former Prime Ministers. I think our brass-knuckled badger of a PM would like nothing better than to stay on and fight Pierre Trudeau's heir in the next federal election.
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Rating: +24
Ryan from Victoria
He won't go. He is a calculated man when it comes to holding power. An Evangelical and heavy supporter of Israel; this man is dangerously religious and unbalanced. How this physical manifestation of vapidity ever became the PM is beyond me. I thought Canada was headed in a fine direction and then this toxic man slipped into position while everyone in Canada was quibbling over the "dirt" in the other parties......
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Rating: +27
don
U snuck the big lie in early but it didn't pass unnoticed. There is no aura of Harper as a quitter but in fact a dedicated and competent man who had a goal and has accomplished most of it.
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Rating: -12
Only in our dreams...
Let's face it, Harper is an egotistical power-maniac, and is in the most powerful position he'll ever hold. He'll hold onto his job as prime minister until the position is torn away from him, as much as we might wish otherwise.

As for Charles' bewildering comments... are you aware that Harper wanted us to jump into the disastrous Iraq war, to support his buddy George W Bush? And you realize that the Liberals' ran 8 straight budget surpluses before Harper came to power, right? Harper has been hugely adding to the debt (much more than necessary) largely due to his tax cuts and increased military/prison spending.
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Rating: +24
Esteban Gordo
It takes someone like Charlie to delve into the minutiae of the fatboy's background.

The day that Trudeau publicly came out and said he had smoked a joint was the day fatboy knew the jig was up.

Oh sure he'll pretend that he is running for re-election, but will back out at the last minute leaving Jason Kenny to take his place.
it will be an interesting election, with the Liberals winning by taking Quebec.
Now if only the NDP didn't depise the Liberlas so much they could work together, but alas the NDP will never be a natural leader.
I'm in for a $100 that Harper will resign in February 2015. Any takers?
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Rating: -3
RUK
Regardless of what we think about Harper's policies, there's little doubt that he has been an effective politician in the goal-reaching sense. The development of the current CPC from bits and pieces of Reform and the PCs was quite a trick. Taking it national, then three election wins.

I think he can rest on those laurels comfortably - particularly if the current F35 review is able to undo the 2010 procurement, which would be an adroit bit of tapdancing.

Timing is key - has to give the successor time to consolidate but not too much to attract the negativity. Election in 2015 - so, this year?
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Rating: 0
James Blatchford
Harper has spectacularly slipped on the Duffy banana peel; but he hasn't yet landed. Does he stick the landing in 2014, or land in a heap? My money is on the heap...I'm guessing Jason Kenney's is as well.
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Rating: +8
HellSlayerAndy
Good points Esteban Gordo

But in all honesty, the Fed NDP are unelectable and have no hope of even keeping their Opposition unless they triangulate against the Liberals as per Jack and his secret agreement with the Tories for a coalition government.

Yes the NDP wanted to be a coalition partner with Harper, and not a relatively progressive guy like Dion. They have no choice attack Trudeau's Liberals to retain some of their Quebec seats because after the McQuaig fiasco, nobody with money, branding, talent and a machine will touch the NDP -- under Tom, they are poison by association.

Besides Angry Tom is a rightwing aristocrat and for him to play 'Progressive' like Jack would look ridiculous...his current issue (abolish the Senate) is firmly in the Right's obsession of dismantling government and reinforcing executive power. The NDP and Tories are practically tied to the hip by all the issues they refuse to even mention. (It's the economy, stupid!)

If shocked, then might I introduce as evidence...20th century Canada as a single party state. Let's face it, it was ONLY a two party system without an ever changeable Third Party being floated by union money to keep a handful of urban seats, splitting an perpetually outraged public over Liberal rule, then we would probably have a much healthier and more diverse political system where things like Senate Reform would have happened half a century ago.
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Rating: -5

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