Harper, for the love of God, go

Harper, apparently, will sit in Parliament as a backbencher representing a suburban Calgary riding.

Following the convincing Conservative defeat in the Oct. 19 federal election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigned as leader and fittingly so. He was at the wheel and the ship ran aground. The captain goes down with his ship, right? Well, not so here. Harper, apparently, will sit in Parliament as a backbencher representing a suburban Calgary riding.

It’s not clear why he’s doing this; there are few precedents for this large a fall, with the defeated leader remaining in government. The Liberals hold so many seats, they still outnumber every other party’s seats combined. The defeat was a definitive comment on Harper’s government and leadership style.

It’s also rather karmic because in Harper’s government it was made clear from the top (Harper’s office) that backbenchers in the Conservative party had better keep quiet and toe the party line if they knew what was good for them; it’ll be interesting to see Harper on the receiving end of the “you’ll do what you’re told” school of leadership.

There must certainly be one person in Ottawa relieved that Harper’s gone; Rona Ambrose won’t have to hold the door open for him anymore.

Jokes aside, the idea of Harper staying on as a backbencher is ludicrous. Harper’s presence is the giant blue elephant in the room. There have been a few other distasteful instances of a former prime minister remaining in the House of Commons after defeat, one in particular.

Conservative Prime Minister John Diefenbaker lost his job in 1963 to the Liberals, but stayed on as leader of the opposition. He eventually lost that job too to Conservative rival Dalton Camp in 1967. Some within the Conservative Party saw Diefenbaker as a divisive figure with too much baggage. But Diefenbaker was too proud to see the writing on the wall. He stayed in government until the 1970’s, lurking in corners and espousing a 1940’s mentality of British supremacy in Upper Canada and holding grudges against other party members who questioned him.

Realistically thought, such a huge defeat, especially after Harper did everything over the last 10 years to ensure his fingerprints were on everything the federal government did, suggests the former prime minister must go. He even went so far as to insist that the federal government could only be referred to in press releases as “the Harper government.” Someone should have reminded him that the government belongs to Canadians, not to Stephen Harper. Perhaps this is one detail that, even in catastrophic defeat, still escapes his attention.

Another famous political defeat occurred shortly after the beginning of World War II. Some of it seems to apply perfectly to the defeated prime minister. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, infamous for being one of the primary culprits responsible for appeasement to the Nazis, was finally chased out of Parliament permanently after Nazi Germany conquered Norway while Britain’s fate looked more and more dire and Chamberlain dithered.

After Chamberlain continued to pound the “Don’t worry, everything is fine” drum in the House of Commons, former Cabinet minister Leo Amery stood, quoting Oliver Cromwell, saying “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

The time of Stephen Harper, love him or hate him, is over. It’s time for a new national Conservative leader to emerge, and that new leader cannot emerge if the defeated one sulks a few chairs down the aisle.

 

Just Posted

Flora Northwest was taken to the Ermineskin residential school when she was six years old. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Ermineskin residential school survivor: ‘It just brings me back to the cries at night’

Discovery in Kamloops of remains of 215 children a painful time for survivors

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer drops to 71 active cases of COVID-19

Province adds 127 new cases of the virus

Police officers and their dogs undergo training at the RCMP Police Dog Services training centre in Innisfail, Alta., on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Mounties say they are searching for an armed and dangerous man near a provincial park in northern Alberta who is believed to have shot and killed a service dog during a police chase. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
RCMP search for armed man in northern Alberta after police dog shot and killed

Cpl. Deanna Fontaine says a police service dog named Jago was shot during the pursuit

Alberta now has 2,336 active cases of COVID-19, with 237 people in hospital, including 58 in intensive care. (Black Press file photo)
Red Deer down to 73 active cases of COVID-19, lowest since early November

The Central zone has 253 active cases of the virus

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

Bruce Springsteen performs at the 13th annual Stand Up For Heroes benefit concert in support of the Bob Woodruff Foundation in New York on Nov. 4, 2019. (Greg Allen/Invision/AP)
Canadians who got AstraZeneca shot can now see ‘Springsteen on Broadway’

B.C. mayor David Screech who received his second AstraZeneca dose last week can now attend the show

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

The Montreal Police logo is seen in Montreal on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Some Quebec politicians are calling for an investigation after a video was released that appears to show a Montreal police officer with his leg on a young Black man’s neck during an arrest. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Probe called for after video appearing to show Montreal officer’s knee on Black youth’s neck

Politicians call for investigation after clip evokes memories of George Floyd incident

Most Read