Stephen Harper (Photo courtesy of Reuters)Steve Paiken — a journalist for TV Ontario — has written a provocative column that's getting some buzz in the #cdnpoli world this week.
In his article posted on the TVO website, Paiken wonders aloud if Prime Minister Stephen Harper might retire this summer.
"On April 30, Harper will turn 54 years old --- in some respects, an ideal age to leave on top having won three consecutive elections and refashioned the country in a significant way. He's young and vigorous enough to embark on a new career.
If this scenario has occurred to me, you can bet it's occurred to others in Ottawa, who will be looking for every little clue to see whether the PM is tipping his hand."
Paiken gives endless examples of other leaders who have left the job on their terms: Chretien, McGuinty, Mulroney, Trudeau, Harris, Klein...
He picks this summer as an exit date because he thinks Harper is generous enough to give his successor at least two years to prepare for the next election.
With all due respect to Paiken, his article sounds like a bit of a reach.
Nevertheless, we took the question to some of our guest experts.
Here's what they had to say:
Warren Kinsella, Liberal insider and Sun News columnist:
"It's ridiculous. Why quit when your opposition is split, and you're going to win?
There's no pressure on him to go, internally or externally.
Paikin should stick to reading the news."
Dan McTeague, former Liberal MP
"Well - he's been Leader 11 years and has delivered the Conservatives to the promised land. He could be reading the tea leaves and knows when to "get outta Dodge".
Reality check - Trudeau's election and Mulcair's poor performance puts the Liberals back into the category of attractive underdog. The next election will inevitably produce a minority. If the Cons are going to be competitive, they will need to give the new leader time. And nex month marks the half way point of the current government's mandate."
Gerry Nicholls, Political consultant and analyst
"Anything is possible, but I would be totally shocked if Harper stepped down before 2015.
I say that because unlike other politicians who often want power for power's sake, Harper has always operated accordingly to carefully crafted long-term agendas.
Simply put, he has a vision he wants to implement and it will take him longer than two years to achieve his goals. Plus, I doubt he has the confidence that anyone but himself can get the job done.
And he's relatively young and at the height of his political powers. So it's hard to believe he would just walk away."
We also checked-in with one of Canada's top psychics — Deborah Louise Levin — about her thoughts about Stephen Harper's future. Here's what she sees happening.
"I see PM Harper will step down due to a family situation," she told Yahoo! Canada News.
"The timing of the decision may still be interpreted by some as politically strategic.
"Not certain of precise timing as there may be a postponement of plan."
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