Federal Conservatives are again turning to Stephen Harper to help make the case that they deserve to form government this fall.
The former prime minister is featured in a new video, released online Thursday as part of a pre-election fundraising push. In the clip, Harper says Canada is at a “turning point.”
“Right now, hardworking families are getting by but they’re not getting ahead,” Harper says, looking perhaps a little greyer than when many Canadians last saw him.
Harper says in the clip that both he and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer know “it’s time for you to get ahead,” a nod to the just-unveiled Tory campaign slogan.
“This is only possible with a government that lives within its means. With a government that protects the services Canadians rely on every step of the way,” he says. “We don’t have that government in Canada right now.”
Harper, who is a director on the party’s fundraising arm, the Conservative Fund Canada, ends with a call for donations. Tories have long bested the governing Liberals on fundraising at the national level.
“Let’s make Andrew Scheer the next prime minister of Canada,” Harper says.
Watch: Harper, Scheer speak at Deepak Obhrai memorial
The former prime minister makes no mention of the Liberals or his successor in the role, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Liberals, however, have consistently invoked Harper’s name inside and outside of the House of Commons to argue that Scheer would represent no change from the Conservative leadership Canadians saw for nearly a decade and that many turned away from in 2015.
In a June speech to Liberal donors in Ottawa, Trudeau said Scheer “doesn’t take any important decisions without consulting Stephen Harper.”
Liberals invoke Harper in new ad
In a new Liberal ad this week unveiling the party’s slogan of “Choose forward,” Trudeau framed October’s election as a choice between two options.
“Keep moving forward and build on the progress we’ve made or go back to the politics of the Harper years,” the Liberal leader says.
In an unusual twist, the Liberal Party also highlighted the Harper video in an email Thursday calling for donations to the party’s campaign war chest.
“Donate now to choose forward with Justin Trudeau rather than going backwards under Stephen Harper. Sorry, we meant Andrew Scheer,” the party wrote to supporters.
Harper stepped down as an MP in August of 2016 and launched his own consulting firm. A year later, he made headlines after a memo written for clients, titled “Napping on NAFTA,” was obtained by The Canadian Press. Harper expressed concerns at the time about the state of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations and warned U.S. President Donald Trump wasn’t bluffing about terminating the deal.
“Canada’s government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now,” the letter stated. “What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not.”
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland pounced on the memo to charge that Harper and Scheer wanted Canada to “capitulate” to U.S. demands. It’s a talking point that is likely to surface on the campaign trail.
While speaking to the Canadian Club of Toronto last year to promote his book on the rise of global populism, Harper said that it is “unequivocal the U.S. got a good deal” in negotiations for the revamped NAFA, which is not yet ratified.
With earlier files