Huffpost Canada Politics

Harper To Resign As Conservative Leader After Election Defeat

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Todd Korol via Getty Images
Todd Korol via Getty Images

Stephen Harper, the only leader the Conservative Party of Canada has ever known, is stepping down.

It just isn't clear when.

Conservative Party president John Walsh made the announcement in a media release Monday night, shortly after Justin Trudeau's Liberals captured a stunning majority government.

"I have spoken to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and he has instructed me to reach out to the newly elected parliamentary caucus to appoint an Interim Leader and to the National Council to implement the leadership selection process pursuant to the Conservative Party of Canada constitution," Walsh said in the release.

Harper addressed supporters in Calgary, but curiously made no mention of plans to resign.

The Tory leader, first elected prime minister in 2006, said it was an "unbelievable honour" to serve Canadians for nearly a decade.

"We gave everything we had to give and we have no regrets whatsoever," he said. "Friends, how could we? We remain citizens of the best country on Earth."

He called the election of a Liberal government a result Tories "accept without hesitation" and said he offered Trudeau congratulations on behalf of the party.

Harper also thanked his wife, Laureen, and their two children for all of their support.

"I hope you will always know that without you, none of this would be possible," he said. "But with you, everything is."

Harper said those who helped build the Conservative Party should feel nothing but pride.

"The disappointment you also feel is my responsibility and mine alone," he said.

"But know this for certain, when the next time comes, this party will offer Canadians a strong and clear alternative based on our Conservative values."

On Tuesday, Walsh released another statement to media confirming that Harper is giving up the leadership of the party but intends to stay on as a member of Parliament for the riding of Calgary Heritage.

Walsh's full statement:

I have spoken with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he communicated to me a request to initiate a number of actions pursuant to my responsibilities as laid out in the constitution of the Conservative Party of Canada.

I thanked the Prime Minister for his leadership on behalf of our party. Stephen Harper has changed Canada for the better, having built a durable, national Conservative movement focused on building a fair, more prosperous and globally significant Canada.

The Prime Minister indicated that he will continue to sit as a Member of Parliament and asks that a process to both select an interim leader and initiate the leadership selection process in our party begin immediately.

First, I am communicating to the newly elected House of Commons caucus their responsibility to elect an interim leader as soon as is possible.

Second, I will be convening a meeting of the National Council to create a Leadership Election Organizing Committee (LEOC) to set out the rules, dispute resolution mechanism and logistics related to the selection of a new leader.

Third, I am tasking Dustin van Vugt, the Executive Director of the Conservative Party of Canada, to initiate a transparent process to review the 2015 campaign.

While the election result was not what Conservatives across Canada hoped and worked so hard for, we respect the outcome of our democratic process. I want to take this moment to thank the hundreds of thousands of Conservative activists in every part of Canada who volunteered their time, money and ideas, allowing our party to serve our country as government since 2006.

A party official told The Toronto Star that Harper does not plan to hold a press conference Tuesday.

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