Harper’s legacy left behind.

In thinking about the legacy of Stephen Harper’s years in the Prime Minister’s Office, you need to consider the people he left behind. Of the 99 Conservatives elected to parliament in the rout of October 19, there were only a few who had the temerity to even contest the interim leadership and former Health Minister Rona Ambrose was nothing more than a short-term solution. A hard-right Alberta Libertarian, she would not be the choice of many Canadians for her role as Leader of the Opposition.

But it is the caucus behind her in the House of Commons that is really sad. Looking just at the two Conservatives MPs representing our home town of Barrie we are embarrassed. We have heard the one representing our part of Barrie referred to as “The Ape.” Watching him late in the campaign, when he figured he was likely to lose, he was needlessly and obviously angry. He and the other new Conservative MP were two little-noted, time-serving Barrie municipal councilors waiting for the call-up to the big leagues of Conservative politics.

They might have been fair to middling ward healers municipally but their potential to make any contribution to Canada in Ottawa is little to zip. They were elected because of the gerrymandering of Barrie. What happened was the Conservatives convinced the federal redistribution commission to split Barrie in two and add strong Conservative-voting rural areas to each half. In our north riding, the Conservative might have won by just 86 votes against a strong Liberal candidate but the new MP gets the same pay and perks as his buddy in south Barrie who won with a majority.

But there was no major league of politics waiting for them when they got to Ottawa. Mr. Harper had left the PMO. He did not need them. He did not need their votes. They have to figure out what to do for the next four years. And that will not be much. Their experience as a fireman and a banking trainee hardly prepares them to contribute anything but their votes in Ottawa.

Of course they are not failures at this game of politics. Not yet. They will get to think about it as the boredom sets in. Experience has been over the years that backbench MPs who are away from home a lot either find some arcane subject to follow in Ottawa or engage in extra-curricular affairs. There is also the example of their predecessor Patrick Brown who was MP for a smaller Barrie. He simply inundated the poor voters with cheap taxpayer-funded mailings for all the charities in town.

But the question is whether Steven Harper appreciates that a caucus of do-nothing Conservative MPs is his legacy?

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Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry

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