Stephen Harper resigns as MP for Calgary Heritage

Aug 23 2016, 3:00 am

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has resigned as longtime MP for Calgary Heritage, he announced in a video message on Twitter.

Although he quit as Conservative leader after last year’s resounding defeat in the federal election, Harper had held onto his seat in Parliament.

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Harper’s resignation as MP marks an end to a long political career, which saw him rise from new parliamentarian to Prime Minister in 13 years.

“On seven occasions, I have been deeply humbled by your trust and support, time and again,” he said in the video. “And I leave elected office proud of what our team accomplished together.”

It was also a career in which both generations of the Trudeau family would play a significant role – at the beginning, and the end.

From one Trudeau to another

Long known for his hardline conservative values, Harper surprisingly began his political life as a member of the Young Liberals Club in high school.

By 1985 though, as a young man in his 20s, he made a complete 180 and switched allegiance to the right-wing Progressive Conservatives.

The reason? The young Harper disagreed with then Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program, which he thought was harming Alberta’s oil industry.

But an idealistic Harper became disillusioned with the Progressive Conservatives, and after quitting that party, helped found the even more right-wing Reform Party in 1987.

After trying and failing to win a seat in the 1988 election, Harper finally won his first seat in Parliament aged 34, as MP for Calgary West, in 1993.

Again growing disillusioned over party compromises on conservative ideals, Harper did not seek re-election in 1997, instead, choosing to join a Conservative lobby group.

It wasn’t long before Harper was back with a vengeance.

After five years of political wrangling, in 2002, Harper was elected Leader of the conservative Canadian Alliance Party and MP for Calgary Southwest (Calgary Heritage).

Stephen Harper, who had left Parliament under a cloud of discontent, now returned as Leader of the Opposition.

By 2004, Harper had merged with the Progressive Conservatives to form the Conservative Party of Canada, narrowly winning the federal election two years later.

Harper’s first Conservative government was the smallest minority in the history of Canada, but he held onto power, re-elected in 2008, with a minority, and 2011, with a majority.

In the end, Harper served as Prime Minister for almost a decade – until Justin Trudeau led the Liberal Party to a landslide victory in last year’s momentous federal election.

In the aftermath of the huge defeat, Harper quit as Conservative Party leader, moved back to Calgary, became a backbencher and has rarely appeared or spoken in Parliament.

In recent months, he has also set up his own company, Harper & Associates Consulting Inc., with former staffers and himself listed as directors.

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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