06.23.2016 10:56 AM

Farewell, Stephen Harper, we barely knew ye

And so it ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Unlike some folks, I don’t hate Stephen Harper.  All of my five reasons are personal.

  1. When my Dad was dying, he phoned me and my Mom to talk about fathers.  He did this despite the fact that Yours Truly had ripped him, on TV and radio and in newspapers, for years.  He was kind to my Mom, and I never forgot that.
  2. On the aforementioned TV and newspaper and radio and newspaper platforms, I predicted – as did others – that, with a Parliamentary majority, he would make abortion and gay marriage illegal, he would constitutionalize property rights, and he would send us into illegal wars alongside Republican presidents.  He did none of those things.
  3. Unlike some Liberals I will not name, he was always respectful towards my political father, Jean Chretien, even when Chretien ran him down a bit.  He told me he admired Chretien’s commitment to Canada, and his discipline, and his fiscal probity.  And it showed.
  4. Even though I was a dirty rotten Liberal, he twice hired me to be a Ministerial Special Representative on aboriginal files.  (He did likewise with Chretien’s nephew Raymond, too.)  Under his watch, spending on aboriginal programs grew, dramatically.  I discovered he wasn’t what some of his detractors said he was, at least in respect of those things.
  5. I thought he might wreck the place.  He didn’t wreck the place.

In light of all those things, why did he still lose? Two reasons.  One, he didn’t heed the Ten Year Rule – he thought he could defy The Rule, and beat the new kid.  Two, he didn’t ever show, publicly, how some of us had seen him to be in private.

Anyway, fare thee well, Stephen Harper and family.  They deserve now what they never got in Ottawa – privacy, quiet and no more bullshit.



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    greg says:

    Warren, SH could have done many things in a more collegial way but he must be respected. Your five points are well received. Communications sadly lacked and they could have used expertise in that field. Saw him at Sens Leafs games. My problem with that was he is a Leafs fan. We are big Sens fans. His wife was a tireless visible voltmeter. The, as in our home love cats and animals in general.
    PS Miss you and Lisa on the Sun news.
    Best to you both. Relax over summer.

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    Mike says:

    Nice sentiments. I agree that there is no reason to hate him. You can dislike his policies but no reason to personally hate the man. And I say that as the most partisan of Liberals.

    However, can we at least wait for him to officially resign before the tributes being? I don’t want to have to go through this all over again when his resignation is official.

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    bluegreenblogger says:

    I had to laugh, out loud too. Hardly a ringing endorsement, ‘He was not totally evil, and surprised me by not wrecking everything. For me, I love the study of History, and one thing I have learned is that few people recognise the fundamental events and circumstances around them until much much later (if ever). I will point to one thing that was the work of an Asshat, and IMHO was one of those fundamental and disastrous events. The shit-canning of the Kelowna Accord. I am somewhere around 1/16’th native. Never raised as such, in fact it was not something spoken about in our family other than quiet, for ‘internal consumption’ that ‘Indians’ are not feckless, they are we, and take pride in our natural world. In the present, I find myself resentful, and cheering for the Natives to just take back their land and resources. We have robbed and squandered, and continue to do so. A generation of First Nations is being raised not in fear of their masters, but with pride. They gonna kick our asses badly soon.

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    Charlie says:

    To be honest, I’m way more excited about Jason Kenney’s imminent departure from federal politics.

    Very happy to see him go knowing that his political career is likely to die in Alberta while he fervently attempts to “unite the right”.

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    doconnor says:

    I expect he would have gotten us into a Republican war if he had the opportunity.

    I did predict on David Olive’s blog that he would use the notwithstanding clause and leave Parliament closed for long periods of time during his majority, but he didn’t.

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    BillBC says:

    Dignified and classy, Warren. Not like the comments in the Post on this item, where the Harper Derangement Syndrome crowd is gathering for one last kick at him: “Harpo,” references to “the closet,”–I presume this refers to the shooting in the House of Commons–one of the stupidest memes of modern times…what was Harper supposed to do–ignore the security guys and wrestle the shooter to the ground?

    I never thought he’d outlaw abortion and gay rights–he was too smart for that, realizing that social conservatives are a very weak force in this country. As for getting into a Bush war, he was too smart for that too. But he wasn’t a very good politician, didn’t have a good smiley public image, and stayed too long.

    I know lovers of young Trudeau will find this hard to believe, but the day will come when his charisma has become stale, his government’s errors will have piled up, and people will be wishing he would leave. It happens…

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      terence quinn says:

      He had a complete disrespect for our constitution which JC played a big role in getting passed. So he is dead meat in my world. Most of his ideals were contrary to most Canadians:’ values. So good riddance.

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    Verna DeMerchant says:

    I really do miss PM Harper.I have never trusted charisma as prefer the honest approach.The media complained that he didn’t communicate with them but why would anyone trust the media as they do not report, they just give us their opinions and tell us it is news.
    Thank you for the positive column on Mr. Harper.

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    James Mitchell says:

    Nice post Warren. I dare suggest that this would imply that a liberal might vote conservative if the political spectrum appeared to drift a little to the left. After hearing you speak with Charles Adler this evening where you stated that Mr. Harper never attempted to touch the abortion issue, same sex marriage, affirm property rights within the Constitution or involve Canada in frivolous wars, it would seem to me that Harper tipped that balance of his political spectrum toward the left in order to appease the on-the-fence liberals and garner their support. If so, I would further dare to suggest that this tactic of Mr. Harper’s appeasement of on-the-fence liberals would be much more trifling for the “new kid” simply because a conservative will always vote conservative merely for the sake of supporting the brand name. Anecdotally speaking, I have encountered quite a few liberals who were rather pleased with Mr. Harper and his majority government while also encountering some disappointed conservatives, who I’m sure wouldn’t fathom the concept of voting Liberal even if they brought back capital punishment.

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    smelter rat says:

    Well he’s been on the dole since October and done nothing to earn it, so good riddance.

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      VincentRendle says:

      … and we can always count on smelter rat to keep on smelter ratting. You never surprise us.

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    JH says:

    Very good WK. For the most part Mr. Harper did what he said he would do – not always, but mostly. I respect that.
    His major problem is he wouldn’t pander to the Ottawa Press Gallery hacks and do as they advised, ’cause they always know best. 🙂
    As for those with HDS, like some on here, he just said ‘feck’em’ and rightly so.

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    Alf Chaiton says:

    Admirable, although not really sure you can judge a politician’s career on the basis that he was nice to you and your mentor. On your argument: first, half his term was in minority government where passing social conservative policies was not possible; second, he never promised to make those changes; third, if he had done so while in majority the party would have lost the next election in any case and the changes would have been reversed; and fourthly, the opposition was constantly tagging him with the “hidden agenda” charge that probably helped keep him at minority status.
    All political leaders over a decade do good things and bad. A fairly dispassionate assessment of his performance is that the bad significantly outweigh the good. You don’t need HDS to come to this conclusion.
    So, thank you Mr. Harper for the good things you did (and the bad things you didn’t do), but I’m glad you’re gone.

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    Ronald O'Dowd says:


    In the end, prime minister Stephen Harper lost because he failed as a tactician: he never recognized his Best-Before date as it clearly stared him in the face and he thoroughly underestimated the designated change agent (read all-Trudeau blind spot) — that Canadians and voters gradually decided to give a chance.

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    Maps Onburt says:

    And that is why I keep coming back here. A reasonable Liberal who can praise or at least recognize that not all things Conservative are evil – and can do the same with the NDP or the Greens. Nicely written Warren. Your mom would be proud.

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    Jean A Paterson says:

    I had respect for Mr Harper himself, and admiration for Mrs Harper, because she was not afraid to support animal welfare causes. I still cannot understand why former PMSH would promote someone as socially conservative as Vic Toews to Justice portfolio, or some of his choices to work in the PMO. I cannot understand why his policies resulted in anti-science and anti -intellectual trends, and yet PMSH is said to be very intelligent. Mr Harper deserves respect for his dedicated service to Canada, as Justin Trudeau said in his speech to the Biennial Convention in May.
    Thanks WK for explaining what you liked about Mr Harper. Good to know.

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      Tim Sullivan says:

      Who is afraid of supporting animal welfare? It certainly didn’t stop his minister from eating dead seal.

      I heard, and this may be completely false, but I heard that there was a room at 24 Sussex which was stunk up so bad by cats one couldn’t enter the room.

      What is it you don’t understand about who he had around him? Toews didn’t pay support. Mr. Harper had an advisor who was a bankrupt lawyer who married (dated? common lawed?) a hooker, he had a cabinet minister leave briefing books with his biker-connected girlfriend, a crooked Parliamentary Secretary who served time in jail. Mr. Harper was leader of a party which willingly broke election laws and he appointed a criminal as head of SIRC in the person of Dr. Porter.

      Mr. Harper was a man who had terrible judgment. Terrible, terrible judgment. Did I mention terrible judgment?

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    Kenton Dueck says:

    It’s a wonderful tribute. The first page of my son’s baby book is a 2013 picture of Harper holding up a sign (one month before my son was born) that says, “Welcome to the greatest country in the world, Weston”. In everything he did, I believe Harper did try to make our country better. I don’t believe the same of Trudeau. Your personal experience about Harper points to someone not sold on the selfie but principles. Thank you, Warren.

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    P. Brenn says:

    its a tough job ..he was dedicated ..wasnt perfect but you can certainly do worse ..look at the current offering in the US ….yikes

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    Pierre D. says:

    Will respectfully disagree that he didn’t “Wreck the place”.

    When a judge castigates your PMO, when you divide people between Muslims and non-Muslims, when the Supreme Court rejects your plans countless times, it’s a clear sign that you’ve gone too far. I don’t hate him because that emotion is best left for lost, but I sure am glad he’s gone. I’ll be voting Liberal in 2019 and perhaps even in 2023 (if no minority) and I hope, DEARLY hope that the CPC is watching and will learn that being human, being able to press the flesh with your citizens and referring TO them as citizens and not merely “taxpayers” (an abhorrent label that omits children, elderly, the unemployed, the sick…) is just normal behaviour.

    All the best Stephen, best of health amd best of luck in your endeavours.

    P.S. And yes, I could vote CPC, but they need to start embracing science, facts, data and PEOPLE and IDEAS. I’d love a Progressive Conservative government like we had will Bri and Mila, minus the Karlheinz Schreiber fiasco, haha! 🙂

    Thank you for a great column and nice point of view.

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