Sorenson opens up over Harper's retirement
Most political watchers in Canada expected change was afoot since the last federal election, and last week former Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he would be leaving politics.
Harper announced last Friday via a video posted to his social media accounts that he would be resigning as MP for Calgary Heritage.
“While I’m doing my goodbyes to the parliament of Canada and getting ready for the next chapter of my life, I would like to express my eternal gratitude to the voters of Calgary Heritage, to the members of the conservative party and to all Canadians for giving me the honour of serving the best country in the world,” he said in his statement. “Today is really the end of his leadership and I have so much respect for the man,” said Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson. “I look back on so many of the things we accomplished, I was privileged to serve with him in cabinet, and around the budget table and see his ability managing an economy that world-wide, had some massive challenges.”
Harper’s political dedication spanned three decades. He was first elected in 1993 in Calgary West as a member for the Reform Party, and resigned in 1997.
Much changed in the five years that followed and in 2002, he ran for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance. He beat out Stockwell Day and then won a by-election in Calgary Southwest. Two years later, he resigned as leader of the opposition and ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. He became leader.
Sorenson’s federal political career began as member of the Alliance in 2000, and then the Conservative Party.
He says part of Harper’s legacy will be that of a bridge builder. “He came back and united the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservative Party,” said Sorenson. “He was amazing in those early years of maintaining unity and build- ing unity between the two parties that have really done battle in every election.” From 2006, until last November’s election, he served as Prime Minister. Sorenson says a hallmark of Harper’s term in office was sound fiscal man- agement.
“He is an economist, he was exactly the one we needed for the times. The world went into a global recession in 2008,” said Sorenson. “We came in 2006, and in those two years we paid off nearly $40 billion
of national debt, lowered the GST, lowered taxes and then in 2008 the recession hit.”
“We were the last of the G7 countries to go into it (the recession) and were the first to come out of it.”
While known as a manager, Sorenson says that most don’t readily see his passion.
“He loved this county. When the global recession hit, he knew it was going to take some very difficult choices. He was always driven by what is the right thing for the long term benefit of Canadians,” said Sorenson.
Going forward, the party is entering a leadership race to fill the vacuum left by the departure of Harper.
“I think (interim leader) Rona Ambrose has done an amazing job in all parts of the country. I wish that she could
run, but the rules are that she cannot. I always thought she could be the one, she’s experienced and served in cabinet. She has done so much,” he said.
“We’ll let the membership choose. We need someone who will connect with the av
erage Canadian, someone who understands what the party is and the fiscal management of the country, understands job creation and keeping taxes low enough so middle income families will keep more money in their pockets. Perhaps it is someone who can connect with the media better. In a less than perfect world we just want to choose the best leader we can."
Battle River-Crowfoot MP Kevin Sorenson, right, says he is proud to have served with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.