William Johnson's Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada
sets out to dispel the myths and explain the facts about the leader of the official opposition. By his own admission, Harper is not comfortable with the typical role of political leader as baby-kissing, photo-op-seeking figurehead, and Johnson suggests that the reason for his unflattering portrayals in the media is his reluctance to do what's expected of such a figure. "An unusual trait for a politician," Johnson writes, "is his conviction that correct policies are more important than tactics for winning support and achieving power." If nothing else, Johnson maintains, Harper should be admired for standing by his convictions, unaffected by public opinion polls and influence from his own advisers, even when a degree of compromise might have increased his popularity.
The author chronicles with detail Harper's political beginnings, his stint--and his ensuing disenchantment--with the Mulroney Progressive Conservatives, the events that led to him becoming a key architect of the Reform party, and his rescue of the Canadian Alliance, which led to the merger with the Progressive Conservatives to create the new Conservative Party that he led into federal elections against Paul Martin's Liberals. With a different leader at the top but Harper behind the scenes, Canadians might very well have elected a Conservative government in 2004: one cannot help but feel from Johnson's account that Harper would be better appreciated as a back-room policy director, a role he may not relish, but may be essential if he is to continue in politics. --Eric Wilson
“The most important Canadian political book of the year.”
— Calgary Herald
“The book does a formidable job of exploring Stephen Harper’s mind. It is a first-rate intellectual history. . . . A well-constructed study that shines light on a fogbound public figure at a time when it is most important to know him.”
— Globe and Mail
“This is an important book for political junkies and others who are trying to understand recent Canadian political history.”
— Halifax Chronicle-Herald
“Thoughtful, thorough and often surprising. . . . the book rests its premises on solid ground.”
— London Free PressFrom the Trade Paperback edition.