Thank you to the National Observer for this excellent piece on the worst Prime Minister in the history of Canada.
Source: From the National Observer: Stephen Harper, the worst Prime Minister in history.
“I think Harper… can be vindictive, certainly not always grateful for what people have done for him in the past… So you can say he’s ruthless, which is probably true… Maybe that’s a personal failing.”
– Tom Flanagan, former Harper adviser, campaign manager and University of Calgary political scientist
Five weeks after Stephen Harper won his majority government in 2011, Maclean’s magazine ran a story asking experts to name Canada’s best prime ministers. Harper ranked 11th on the list.
Stephen Azzi, a Carleton University historian who co-authored the Maclean’s piece, says he doubts very much Harper would have budged on the list if their survey were conducted today. “All of the prime ministers we consider successful have some major accomplishment they can point to – Harper doesn’t have that,” he explains. “His accomplishment first of all is winning power and staying in power and then there are a series of minor things that his supporters like. But it will be hard for future generations to remember him for these things.”
On the Maclean’s list, the prime ministers below Harper were either in power very briefly – such as Kim Campbell, John Turner and Joe Clark – or were otherwise forgettable, such as R.B. Bennett and Arthur Meighen. For historians, to be considered an important prime minister, you must leave behind a significant government program or legislative milestone – such as Lester B. Pearson when he created Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan, or Brian Mulroney with free trade and the acid rain treaty.
“When I think of the Harper government, what would be a lasting implication?” asks Dimitry Anastakis, a historian at Trent University. “There are a lot of takeaways the government has done in terms of diminishing the capacity of government. I suppose that is the legacy. I don’t think it’s a positive legacy — I think it is a very negative legacy.”
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