Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Don Martin: Is Harper sending out job feelers?

The answer to Martin's question: highly unlikely. Nevertheless Martin does have a point in that it seems strange that the media shy Harper is all of a sudden courting the international media. Perhaps this is something that his handlers have suggested as a way of raising his profile globally and attracting more attention to Canadian issues among the global media. It is a premature to think that Harper is concerned about life after he is no longer prime minister. As his frantic actions to keep his job late last year show, he is not about to retire voluntarily. It remains to be seen how much of a challenge Ignatieff will be. So far he mainly has impressed some cheerleaders in the press and some Liberal bloggers.

Don Martin: Is Harper sending out job feelers?

By Don Martin, Calgary HeraldApril 6, 2009 7:21 AM

There's plenty of head-scratching speculation at why Prime Minister Stephen Harper suddenly took leave of his media-averse senses to seek the spotlight of international television news.
But his foreign-behaviour blitz of interviews, acting uncharacteristically like, shudder, a global media darling, may have an agenda beyond promoting the stability of Canadian banks or getting softball questions from anchors that couldn't find Canada on a map.
Here's a wild theory--Stephen Harper could be sending out job applications. The possibility Harper believes he's closer to the end of his prime ministerial reign than the beginning appeared to weigh on his mind in one interview last week.
After predicting "more big job losses" for Canada, Harper conceded: "I may eventually lose mine." If so, the least-recognized G-8 leader will need a higher profile to solidify his credentials for any future international career, not that there's anything wrong if he's just promoting Canada's silver-lining story in these dark economic times.
The unspoken dilemma for Harper is what to do after politics.
As a prime minister who won't reach his 50th birthday until the end of this month, he'll have almost two decades of post-politics productivity left to work away at boosting his net worth.
The usual retirement refuge for former prime ministers tends to be fat-cat law firms where they're given a corner office, a few legal assistants, an appointments secretary and told to charge outrageous fees for client face time when they're not delivering stock speeches at $25,000 a pop.
Being a lawyer has been the norm for every prime minister since Wilfrid Laurier, except for Joe Clark and Lester Pearson. Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien returned to law and still tours the world with business leaders in tow. Paul Martin has megamillions from his pre-politics business interests and didn't require billable hours to survive as an aboriginal-cause philanthropist enjoying his own six-hole golf course on the farm.
But Harper is not independently wealthy and only armed with an economics degree that he's never actually used as an economist. Besides, being an economist these days isn't exactly a profession worthy of a prime ministerial retirement, given that most of them missed the when and how hard this recession would hit. Harper obviously can't go back from whence he came, running the modest National Citizens Coalition advocacy group. And merely languishing on blue-chip corporate boards won't satisfy this human energizer. That suggests the greenest pastures lie beyond Canada's walls. In other words, he might have to follow Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's career path in reverse.
Harper will know instinctively when his time is up, leaving far ahead of any push from below.
That's why the grim scenario of an unlikely majority government drives the persistent whisper that he won't bother running again.
For my money, that seems highly out of character for a power-seeker like Stephen Joseph Harper. But it's almost as uncharacteristic as his sudden affinity for international media attention --which does little to impress television viewers, but sure polishes Harper's resume for future foreign considerations.

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