In some ways, one of prime minister Stephen Harper's top achievements was that he got to be prime minister at all.
When he took over as Canadian Alliance leader in 2002, the biggest political drama at the time surrounded questions of which Liberal cabinet minister would next make it to 24 Sussex Dr. and when.
Stephen Harper speaks to Canadian Alliance delegates in Edmonton on April 4, 2002. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Who gave him much of a chance?
Harper was a former Reformer from Alberta who spoke plainly. He didn't appear to be much of a people-person in a business all about people. Too right wing, some thought. Too boring. Too unappealing to Quebecers and Ontarians.
Yet, he won. A lot.
He won the battle to unite the right. He won government in 2006. He won a majority in 2011.
And he won the right to sit in the House of Commons seven different times over a span of 18 years.
Then-Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay and Harper announce a merger on Oct. 16, 2003. (Photo: Tom Hanson/CP)
Harper, 57, called it a career Friday, resigning the Calgary Heritage seat he won last October.
Taking stock of his legacy proves tricky. For every triumph, others will focus instead on the controversies linked to this nation's sixth longest-serving leader, including his record on the environment, First Nations, and respect for democratic institutions.
And though the Liberals seek to undo some pieces of the Harper era — from his tough-on-crime agenda to parts of his anti-terrorism legislation — they can't and won't undo them all.
Here are a few of Harper's memorable accomplishments.
Led Canada through the economic crisis
Harper speaks at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago on Nov. 29, 2009. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Harper was generally seen as a steady hand on the tiller throughout his tenure, and especially during the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and years of fragile recovery.
Canada emerged from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression better off than many nations and Harper's last budget in 2015 was balanced.
Froze MP salaries in period of recovery
And when it came to austerity and belt-tightening in the wake of deficit spending — he walked his talk. Harper froze MP and senator salaries between 2010-2012, including his prime ministerial salary.
Slashed his own pension by millions
Harper and his wife head to Rideau Hall on Aug. 2, 2015. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)
Harper also won praise in many circles for a decision that personally cost him plenty.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation estimates that changes he made to the very generous MP pension program in 2012 cost him between $1.8 million and $2.2 million.
"I don't know too many politicians that would give up millions of dollars and he did," CTF president Aaron Wudrick told The Huffington Post Canada recently.
Cut taxes, including the GST, and reduced federal spending
Harper and former finance minister Jim Flaherty unvil a 5% GST sign at a photo-op in Mississauga, Ontario on Dec. 31, 2007. (Photo: Frank Gunn/CP)
Harper famously reduced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to five per cent from seven.
Many Conservatives are also proud that he lowered Canada's corporate and small-business tax rate during his tenure.
Historic apologies for past wrongs
Harper greets native leaders after apologizing for residential school abuses on June 11, 2008. (Photo: Tom Hanson/CP)
Harper formally apologized in the House of Commons in 2006 for the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants between 1885 and 1923.
In 2008, he delivered an emotional, long-awaited apology to First Nations for the horrors of residential schools. His government also established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Strides in national unity
Harper addresses a crowd in Victoriaville, Que. on Feb. 12, 2015/ (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP)
Harper famously recognized that the people of Quebec form a nation within a united Canada — a controversial decision that cost him a cabinet minister early on. Those in Harper's office have credited him with sucking oxygen out of the sovereigntist cause by ending a lot of the federal-provincial squabbling over spending and respecting the provincial government's independence.
Though the Parti Quebecois formed a minority government from 2012-2014, there was no referendum on separatism under his watch or major constitutional crisis.
Raised the age of sexual consent
Harper attends a meeting on gang violence in Vancouver, B.C. on Freb. 26, 2009. (Photo: Darryl Dyck)
While some key aspects of the Harper's tough-on-crime agenda have already been struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, his government succeeded in raising the age of sexual consent in 2008 to 16 from 14.
A move intended to protect children from exploitation, the accomplishment marked the first time the age of consent had changed since 1892.
His maternal health initiative
Harper speaks at the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit in Toronto on May 30, 2014. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)
Harper launched the Muskoka Initiative at the G8 summit hosted by Canada in 2010 that committed member nations to spend billions to help reduce the number of mothers and children who die in developing countries each year.
In an address to the United Nations in 2014, Harper said that saving the lives of mothers and children is a "fight we can win."
Steadfast support of Israel
Harper visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel on Jan. 21, 2014. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Harper fans have also lauded his unequivocal support for Israel, which represented a shift from Canada's reputation as a so-called "honest broker" in the Middle East.
Former Tory foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier has said Harper's "clear" position on the file was the "most important aspect" of his foreign policy.
Stood up to Putin
Harper walks past Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Russia on Sept. 5, 2013. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/CP)
Harper was among the most vocal opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressions in Ukraine. He spearheaded the charge to have Russia booted from the G8 after its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
At a G20 summit, Harper reportedly told the Russian leader: "I guess I'll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: you need to get out of Ukraine."
He also promoted Arctic sovereignty on his trips to Canada's far north every summer.
Just this week, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko awarded Harper the Order of Liberty. It's one of Ukraine's highest honours.
With files from Althia Raj, The Canadian Press
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The Angus Reid Institute polled 1,412 Canadians between Oct. 26 and 28, 2015 on the legacy of outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper. The poll had a margin of error of 2.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were given a list of actions taken by Harper's government between 2006 and 2015, and asked to choose its biggest accomplishments and failures. A detailed list of actions can be found online. Here are the results...
Harper's Notable Achievements NOTE: The second-most popular choice was "none of these."
One in three — 36 per cent — chose this as the Harper government's top achievement. (Harper stands in front of TVs displaying a 5% GST during a campaign stop in 2005).
Almost one-quarter — or 24 per cent — highlighted this action as a key achievement. (Harper poses with then-finance minister Joe Oliver as he arrives to table the 2015 federal budget).
13 per cent chose this action as a notable achievement. (Harper gives then-Assembly of First Nations chief Phil Fontaine a standing ovation as he responds to the official apology for residential school abuses in 2008).
12 per cent chose this action as a key achievement. (Harper greets European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in 2013).
Nine (9) per cent chose this action as a key achievement. (Harper drives an ATV across the tundra on Baffin Island, near York Sound, Nunavut).
UP NEXT: Harper's Notable Failures
27 per cent chose this action as the Harper government's most notable failure. (A Canada goose stands on railway tracks as a plant operates in the background in Hamilton, Ont.)
26 per cent of respondents said this action was a failure. (A protester in a Grim Reaper costume protests cuts to science policies during a 2012 rally on Parliament Hill).
20 per cent chose this action as a key failure. (A protester demonstrates against C-51 at a March, 2015 rally in Montreal.)
16 per cent said the combat mission against ISIS was a failure, while 14 per cent said the same of the mission in Afghanistan. (Harper and then-defence minister Peter MacKay look out from a bunker at an operating base in the district of Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan in 2011.)
13 per cent chose this as a key failure. (Harper holds up a pile of money during a 2015 campaign event).
UP NEXT: Defeated Tory Cabinet Ministers
Though Stephen Harper was re-elected in his Calgary riding in the 2015 federal election, many members of his cabinet went down in defeat. Here are some key figures from Harper's inner circle who will not be returning to Ottawa...
Cabinet position: Minister of citizenship and immigration Riding: Ajax First elected: 2011
Cabinet position: Minister of finance Riding: Eglinton-Lawrence (Toronto) First elected: 2011 Oliver also previously served as minister of natural resources
Cabinet position: Minister of aboriginal affairs Riding: Madawaska—Restigouche (N.B.) First elected: 2011 (though he was a Progressive Conservative MP from 1984 to 1993).
Cabinet position: Associate defence minister Riding: Vaughan First elected: 2010 Fantino is probably better remembered for his controversial tenure as minister of veterans affairs.
Cabinet position: Minister of the environment Riding: Nunavut First elected: 2008 Aglukkaq previously served as minister of health, and was the first Inuk in Canadian history named to federal cabinet.
Cabinet position: Minister of natural resources Riding: Kenora First elected: 2008 Rickford previously served as minister of state for science and technology.
Cabinet position: Minister of fisheries and oceans Riding: Egmont (P.E.I.) First elected: 2008
Cabinet position: Minister of state for multiculturalism Riding: Edmonton—Sherwood Park First elected: 2008 Uppal also previously served as minister of state for democratic reform.
Cabinet position: Minister of state for science and technology Riding: London West First elected: 2008
Cabinet position: Chief government whip Riding: Vancouver Island North First elected: 2008 (though he also served as an MP from 1993 to 2006). Duncan previously served as minister of aboriginal affairs.
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In the 2015 federal election, Thomas Mulcair's New Democrats fell from 95 seats to 44. And several high-profile incumbents from across the country were defeated, usually to Liberal candidates. Here are a few key names that will not be returning to Ottawa...
First elected: 2006 Riding: Ottawa Centre Shadow cabinet role: Foreign affairs Dewar also ran for the leadership of the party in 2012.
First elected: 2008 Riding: Halifax Shadow cabinet role: Deputy leader, environment
First elected: 1997 Riding: Sackville—Eastern Shore (N.S.) Shadow cabinet role: Veterans affairs Stoffer was named Maclean's magazines Parliamentarian of the year in 2013 and frequently won the most congenial MP award.
First elected: 2008 Riding: St. John's East Shadow cabinet role: National defence Harris was also the longtime leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador New Democratic Party.
First elected: 2012 Riding: Toronto Danforth Shadow cabinet role: Democratic and parliamentary reform Scott represented the Toronto riding held by former leader Jack Layton.
First elected: 2008 Riding: Welland Shadow cabinet role: Agriculture and Agri-Food
First elected: 2011 (though she served from 2004-2006 as a Liberal MP) Riding: Gatineau Shadow cabinet role: Justice
First elected: 2011 Riding: Halifax Atlantic Shadow cabinet role: Fisheries, deputy employment insurance Chisholm served as leader of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party and ran for the federal leadership in 2012.
First elected: 2011 Riding: St. John's South—Mount Pearl Shadow cabinet role: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
First elected: 2011 Riding: Newton—North Delta Shadow cabinet role: Employment and Social Development
First elected: 1997 Riding: Winnipeg Centre Shadow cabinet role: Public Works and Government Services Martin is perhaps the most quotable politician in Canada.