'There's a risk of excessive polarization of the party': Harper's interference in Conservative leadership dividing Conservatives - 2020-01-20
Former prime minister Stephen Harper's decision to recently step down from the Conservative Fund in order to reportedly block the potential Conservative leadership candidacy of Jean Charest is causing fissures in the party, with some saying, "he's a former defeated Conservative leader" and should stay out of the leadership contest.
"There's a risk of excessive polarization of the party when you know this great symbolic figure starts to take a position in a leadership race, it can't help but raise the temperature instead of just leaving [it] into the members' [hands]," said Tom Flanagan, an elder statesman of the Conservative Party, in an interview with The Hill Times.
Mr. Flanagan, now a senior fellow at the Fraser Institute who also served as a senior aide to Mr. Harper in the OLO and managed the 2004 federal election campaign, said that, historically, former party leaders tend to stay neutral in leadership contests. He said he was not sure why Mr. Harper was choosing to take any sides in this contest, and that doing so carries serious political risks. He said Mr. Harper would be well advised to stay out of the ongoing contest.