News Canada

Stephen Harper will leave politics before the fall

By James Wood, Postmedia

Stephen Harper is feeling “serene” about his life after politics and intends to stay in Calgary even as he plots a new course for himself, says a longtime friend of the former prime minister.

Harper — whose Conservative government was defeated last fall after a decade in office — is expected to resign his Calgary Heritage seat by the end of summer.

Ron Wood, a former political staffer and journalist who befriended Harper more than 25 years ago, had lunch with the ex-PM a few weeks ago.

He said Harper made it clear he intended to step down as an MP soon, though he didn’t give a specific timetable.

“I think he wants to get on with his life. I think he sees some challenges and opportunities ahead that interest him and intrigue him and engage him. It’s time. He’s done everything that he could,” said Wood Wednesday.

“I would say he’s as serene as he’s ever been. He’s very comfortable and looking forward to some new endeavours.”

Wood said Harper, who wrote a 2013 book on the origins of hockey, has another book in the works.

This project is not a memoir, which may come in the future, but “reflections on maybe which way the country should go, without getting highly political or partisan,” said Wood.

Reports suggest Harper is eyeing positions on corporate boards and is interested in forming a foundation or institute focusing on foreign policy issues that are important to him.

Wood said Harper mentioned his interest in a foreign policy institute and he believes it would be a natural fit for the former PM to promote free trade and democracy abroad.

Whatever he pursues, Harper plans to stay in Calgary, said Wood.

When Harper does relinquishes his seat, it will mean a byelection in his southwest Calgary riding.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi  paid tribute to Harper as “a man of enormous integrity who has dedicated his entire life to public service.

“He’s had an enormous impact and we’re very proud as Calgarians that we had a prime minister for a decade who hailed from this city,” Nenshi told reporters.

“It made a big difference to have in Ottawa a western voice, an Alberta voice and a Calgary voice.”

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