I want to personally thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper — he will always be “Prime Minister Harper” — one of the most successful, transformational prime ministers in Canadian history, ranking up there with Sir John A, Laurier and Mackenzie King.
Once a populist, always a populist, Harper truly got his political mojo working in the wild west of Alberta. And through his pure force of will, determination and brilliant political instincts, he helped create the Reform Party and transformed a ragtag bag of right wingers, oil and gas wildcatters, hard-driving entrepreneurs, gun enthusiasts, socially conservative yahoos, free traders, free market libertarians, small “c” conservatives, anti-Eastern urban elitists, hard-working, self-reliant, suburban new immigrants, and Eastern populists (like me) into a fighting and disciplined political force that won three hard-fought federal elections.
Even in 2015, despite almost 10 years in power, despite the collapse of the NDP, Harper led a party to nearly 32% of the vote and 99 solid seats in the new Parliament.
And clearly going against the national red tide, Harper and the Conservatives increased its Quebec representation. Max Bernier, you rock, mon ami!
As leader (contrary to Liberal and CBC propaganda), Harper did not have a hidden agenda. He stood by his political promises and never reopened the socially divisive issues of abortion and a woman’s freedom of choice. He strongly supported same sex marriage and sexual equality. And the Conservative Party and the country were better for Harper standing up for these principles and values.
Ironically, in this last campaign, it was Harper, not any of the other leaders, who stood up loudly and courageously for our etched-in-stone Canadian values of the equality of men and women, when he publicly proclaimed that a foreign culture (whose values require women to veil themselves so that men will not be motivated to rape them, or whose values are anti-gay) are values that have no place in Canada and should never be encouraged or permitted.
Harper also kept Canada on a firm fiscal path. When the international recession hit in 2009, contrary to orthodox right wing thinking, Harper did the right thing and tacked to the centre and left, stimulating the economy by running several years of consecutive deficits.
Then, when the economy turned around, Harper and his then Finance Minister Flaherty, did the heavy and unpopular lifting of reducing government programs and brought the country back into fiscal balance, while keeping personal and corporate taxes at historic lows.
The easy and politically popular thing to do would have been to borrow billions of dollars, increase debt and deficits and kick the problem down the field for another leader and another generation, like Pierre Trudeau did in the 70s — and David Peterson and Bob Rae did in Ontario in the 90s.
Instead, Harper chose the much more difficult approach of saying no to many free-loading special interest groups, who wanted to line their pockets.
He also said “no” to many provincial premiers and many Canadians, who preferred getting federal government handouts to doing the hard and necessary work of building up their own provincial businesses and revenues and reining in their own programs and reducing their deficits.
Yes, that took discipline, toughness and determination and cold-heartedness. But those were the right things to do.
But in politics, as in life, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
So the Canadian people punished Harper for being a tough, firm, son of bitch, who did not kowtow to biased liberal elites in downtown Toronto or Montreal or their biased elitist media interests.
Some of the Canadian people also punished Harper for not kowtowing to the many anti-Semitic, anti-Israel member countries which form the United Nations.
Some of the Canadian people also punished Harper for not kowtowing to the job-destroying/cap and trade/carbon tax/green environment international movement.
But like Harper, I am a true blue populist. And the people are always right.
Apparently, some of the same people who stuck by and voted for Rob and Doug Ford, this time some of these people also voted for Justin Trudeau.
I stand whole-heartedly by the people’s choice.
I am a populist, unrepentant contrarian, a rebel-rousing, anti-elitist — and as such a very proud Canadian.
Thank you, Prime Minister Harper, for your incredible service to this great land of ours.
We true blue Canadian Conservatives shall never forget you.