I would like to take a moment to join all Canadians in expressing our
utmost respect and warm wishes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper as
he steps back from his role as the Member of Parliament for Calgary
Heritage, and the Canadian political stage.
In 2003, Stephen Harper was at the forefront of the movement to unite
conservative Canadians across this country under one banner. It would
mark the beginning of more than a decade of his principled leadership.
The record Prime Minister Harper leaves in office is a proud one. Under
his leadership, Canada’s foreign policy was clear-eyed and robust, and our
nation’s principles were never for sale. He was the first Canadian Prime
Minister in history to address the Knesset in Israel — a strong show
of support for a democratic nation that remains our best and strongest
ally in a turbulent part of the world. It was Prime Minister Harper who
stood up to Vladimir Putin and led the charge to have Russia removed
from the G8. Under Prime Minister Harper, Canada was an active ally
in the global fight against terrorism. And he helped usher in a new era of
greater respect for Canada’s men and women in uniform.
Here in Canada, his economic record speaks volumes. During his
leadership Canada emerged from the global recession faster and stronger
than any country in the G7, which included a net gain of 1.3 million new
jobs, a balanced budget, and the wealthiest middle class anywhere on
the globe. His time in office saw an ambitious free trade agenda open up
markets around the world for Canadian businesses, and free trade deals
now signed with over 40 countries.
At the heart of that record was a recognition of the everyday challenges
facing hardworking families. We proudly note that it was thanks to his
principled guidance that Canadians enjoyed the lowest tax burden in 50
years — including a lower GST, income splitting for couples, and tax free
Finally, Canada under Stephen Harper was committed to protecting the
most vulnerable in our society. His leadership saw sweeping changes to
strengthen child protection laws and the introduction of the Victims
Bill of Rights, which once and for all put the rights of victims ahead of
the rights of criminals. The creation of the Universal Child Care Benefit
helped lift hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty, and the
Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health initiative has helped save the lives
of millions of mothers and babies around the world.
I spoke with Prime Minister Harper upon news of his departure, and I
took the opportunity to personally thank him for everything he has done
— for the people of Calgary Heritage and Calgary Southwest before that,
for proud conservatives everywhere, and for all Canadians.
I also expressed congratulations for the recent honour bestowed upon
him by Ukrainian President Poroshenko. The Order of Liberty, one
of Ukraine’s highest honours, recognizes Prime Minister Harper’s
contributions to the strengthening of Ukraine’s sovereignty. This is only
the latest demonstration of the lasting legacy with which Mr. Harper
departs political life.
More than anything, Prime Minister Harper loves his family, and we
thank Laureen, Ben and Rachel for sharing him with us for over 20 years.
We also thank Laureen Harper for her devotion to so many charitable
causes and our country.
Thank you Stephen Harper for your immense contributions to Canada
and we wish you well in your future endeavours.
The Hon. Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Official Opposition
Interim Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
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