Stephen Harper at the Conservative convention: ‘Now is the time to look forward’

05/27/2016

Jason Fekete, Ottawa Citizen | May 27, 2016 | Last Updated: May 27 8:48 AM ET
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 VANCOUVER — Former prime minister Stephen Harper broke months of silence late Thursday in a speech to thousands of Conservatives gathered for their national convention, trumpeting how the party has remained “strong and united” in defeat and that “now is the time to look forward.”

Harper used the speech to reflect on the Conservative Party of Canada’s rise to power and achievements of nearly a decade ruling the country, but also stressed the need to move on and unite behind a new leader that will be selected in a year.

Introduced to AC/DC’s hit song Thunderstruck, Harper delivered a 17-minute speech that electrified Conservative faithful who came to see what could be one of his final public addresses as an MP.

“The party that you have built over the last 13 years is strong today, and it will be even stronger in the future. In a year you will select, from among many outstanding candidates, a new leader and you will unite behind that person,” Harper told a crowd of more than 2,000 Conservative members packed into a hall at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

“Because in 2019, perhaps more than we understand even now, our country will need a strong, united Conservative party ready to govern.”

Harper highlighted that for the first time in more than a century, a long-serving Conservative government, “even in defeat, has emerged strong and united — the one and only opposition party positioned to take the government the next time around.”

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