CALGARY - Former prime minister Stephen Harper has shocked the Canadian political world and announced he is seeking to lead the Conservative party again.
In a press release early Saturday morning, Harper says that though he has been enjoying his time away from politics and building his consulting career, he is eager for a political comeback.
“Friends, I am very excited to once again seek the leadership of our great Conservative party,” he said.
“I am entering a highly competitive field,” Harper said, noting that the 14 contenders in the Tory leadership race are all competent challengers.
“However, with all due respect to the caucus and the candidates hoping to lead it, let’s be clear: Daddy’s home, and he’s got no time for these rookie blues.”
I don’t need ‘permission to ride’
Harper’s surprising decision comes with plenty of complications and challenges, the most significant being that he has missed the deadline to register as an official candidate by more than a month.
Asked whether he knew he had missed the Feb. 24 cutoff, Harper told reporters gathered outside his Calgary home on Saturday he is not concerned about the deadline.
“Look, let’s be clear:deadlines are important and it is imperative that party policy be respected by all candidates,” said Harper.
“That said,” he continued, pulling out a photo of himself on an all-terrain vehicle, “Steve doesn’t need permission to ride, baby,” he said, winking at reporters.
A copy of the photograph former prime minister Stephen Harper showed reporters outside his Calgary residence.
Harper, who stepped down as an MP last August, says one of the main reasons he is running is to “save” the Tories from Kevin O’Leary, a political outsider who is widely considered to be a frontrunner in the leadership race.
Another complicating factor for Harper, however, is that Conservative MPs and senators who served under his leadership have backed O’Leary, leading some to suggest that the party is looking to shed its old ways in favour of a new Tory brand.
Harper said he was confident the Conservatives who supported O’Leary will rescind their endorsements.
“Conservatives, as always, vote with their own conscience and I have the utmost faith in the few who have voiced their support for one of my more bombastic challengers,” he said.
“And if they refuse, they’ll get a chance to meet these strong, stable majority guns,” he said, kissing his biceps.
O’Leary took to Twitter shortly after Harper’s announcement.
“Who the hell is this guy?” O’Leary wrote. “No, seriously. Is he from the MSNBC shows or what?”
Happy April Fool’s Day! Stephen Harper is not jumping back into politics. FOR NOW.
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