Stephen Harper Could Unite Alberta
So Jason Kenney has won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. Good for him. He laid out a vision and convinced supporters to launch a hostile takeover of the party that has caused much drama and stress in the lives of Albertans over the past ten years. The Progressive Conservative Party is dead. Good riddance.
Now we have to go through the whole process of uniting with the Wildrose Party and selecting a new leader for a new party. Brian Jean already wants this badly. So too does Jason Kenney, obviously. Neither one is ideal, but idealism isn’t what’s needed in the Notley era. We just need “ability to win” and “ability to govern conservatively” in order to begin the long process of putting this province back together. Is this a job for Jean or Kenney? Maybe, but a lot of uncertainty remains. Both of these guys have baggage and issues that will pose a problem in a general election. I don’t need to get into it here, because frankly, either one of these guys would be just fine running the new conservative party in my estimation.
If we want a united conservative party to not just scrape by, but to utterly and spectacularly dominate in the next election, there is one man that should lead the party.
Stephen Harper. Here are five reasons why.
#1. Harper has done it before
When he was the leader of the Canadian Alliance he knew upon losing a by-election in Perth-Middlesex to a PC candidate that there was no future in his own party and the only option was uniting the right. He did so aggressively and efficiently. He has experience successfully doing this sort of uniting and he can do it again.
#2. Harper isn’t done
Harper fully expected to win another mandate in 2015. Whether the win would be a majority or a minority was the biggest question. He lost and retired from public life shortly thereafter. But he was only 56 years old. This is prime executive achievement age for people of prestige and power. Since finishing with politics he has been enjoying some time off and apparently doing some speeches and board room sitting. There was talk about a foundation of some kind. All well and fine.
But Harper is ambitious and talented and smart. He has a lot to offer and a lot left to give. It’s time for him to get back in the game and bring his leadership skills to Alberta.
#3. Harper can easily win
When we talk about a Premier Jason Kenney or Brian Jean, there is no real evidence they can win in a general election. Their popularity is always expressed only in party circles and the general population barely know who they are. Stephen Harper is known by everyone. In the 2015 federal election, the Conservative Party garnered 59.5% of the vote in Alberta. All these combination polls showing potential PC/Wildrose support are dubious next to this hard statistic. Stephen Harper can win because he has won and will again should he offer to lead.
#4. Harper has no provincial baggage
Factionalism and mistakes pollute the provincial scene. The PC leadership race has been messy. The Wildrose Party has been unstable. Both Jason Kenney and Brian Jean have proven to be capable of moving things forward, but why not start fresh with someone who has no ties to everything that has come to pass? Stephen Harper can be the Jim Prentice figurehead that the PC’s had hoped for long ago. A successful federal politician that can come in from the outside and lead the province with his expertise.
#5. Harper is the perfect foil against Justin Trudeau
Alberta is getting hammered by politicians not just provincially, but federally as well. Justin Trudeau and his colourful cast of social justice warriors are crushing Alberta with delight. A carbon tax, talk of shutting down the oilsands, equalization payments flying out of the province while our unemployment rate is soaring...the federal Liberals are not on our side. If ever we needed someone to build firewalls around Alberta, now is the time.
Let’s bring Stephen Harper out of retirement and put him to work getting the province back in order. It’s going to take two terms for Alberta to have the Alberta Advantage back. If Harper runs and wins he’ll be 60 years old. If he runs a second time he’ll be 64. Then he’ll be ready for retirement and Jason Kenney and Brian Jean can have a kick at the can. Maybe someone brand new will show up by then, who knows.
Stephen Harper has all the right qualities in a leader that Alberta is going to need over the next few years. In today’s name recognition environment, he will activate people who have long soured on provincial politics and truly unite the right for the benefit of us all. To do anything less is to invite hostile, adventitious developments to occur like they have been in this province since the demise of Ralph Klein. Stephen Harper will offer Alberta the slam dunk we need and we need to get him back ASAP.