The Longer I'm Prime Minister

The Longer I'm Prime Minister

Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006

Book - 2013
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WINNER 2014 - Ottawa Book Award for Non-Fiction

The definitive portrait of Stephen Harper in power by this country's most trenchant, influential and surprising political commentator.
Oh, he won, but he won't last. Oh, he may win again but he won't get a majority. Oh, his trick bag is emptying fast, the ads are backfiring, the people are onto him, and soon his own party will turn on him. And let me tell you, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy . . .

Despite a constant barrage of outrage and disbelief from his detractors, Stephen Harper is on his way to becoming one of Canada's most significant prime ministers. He has already been in power longer than Lester B. Pearson and John Diefenbaker. By 2015, and the end of this majority term, he'll have caught up to Brian Mulroney. No matter the ups and downs, the triumphs and the self-inflicted wounds, Harper has been moving to build the Canada he wants--the Canada a significant proportion of Canadian voters want or they wouldn't have elected him three times. As Wells writes, "He could not win elections without widespread support in the land. . . . Which suggests that Harper has what every successful federal leader has needed to survive over a long stretch of time: a superior understanding of Canada."

In The Longer I'm Prime Minister , Paul Wells explores just what Harper's understanding of Canada is, and who he speaks for in the national conversation. He explains Harper not only to Harper supporters but also to readers who can't believe he is still Canada's prime minister. In this authoritative, engaging and sometimes deeply critical account of the man, Paul Wells also brings us an illuminating portrait of Canadian democracy: "glorious, a little dented, and free."

Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, 2013.
ISBN: 9780307361325
Characteristics: 436 pages ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Longer I am prime minister


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Jan 02, 2015

This is an immensely entertaining read, with many useful insights about PM Harper. However, it is a political book, with “political” in block letters. Readers who have never heard of Saulie Zajdel, a Conservative candidate in a Montreal riding in 2011, will find out all about him, but Stephen Poloz, the current governor of the Bank of Canada, doesn’t rate a mention.
Where the book does stray into economics, it is conventional and superficial. Pace Mr. Wells , many economists supported the GST reductions to 6% and 5%. Among other things, they encouraged the switchover of BC, Ontario and PEI governments from PST to HST regimes, with the investment benefits they produced, and the increased harmonization of the Quebec Sales Tax with the GST, so it is much closer to an HST than it was before. Wells suggests, quite mistakenly, that the $2.2 billion the government gave to Quebec for tax harmonization was strictly for the province adopting the QST in 1991.
Mr. Wells has themed his book around PM Harper’s imitation of successful Liberal PMs. However, he ignores the obvious parallel between PM Chrétien’s government making household budget surveys voluntary with the Survey of Household Spending replacing the compulsory Family Expenditure Survey, and the Harper government replacing the compulsory long form census with the voluntary National Household Survey. The 2011 NHS had a far higher response rate than any recent SHS, whose response rate is now under 50%.
There is no mention of the nullity of the 2006 and 2011 inflation-control renewal agreements signed off under Harper. The second was especially disappointing as it was preceded by an amibitious research agenda into reforming the inflation targeting regime that led to not the slightest useful change. Since 2006 there have been reductions in the upward measurement bias of the CPI that have effectively raised the target inflation rate of Canada’s central bank, hardly the reform one would expect from a conservative government.

Aug 27, 2014

Very interesting book for anyone who follows politics.

Jun 23, 2014

Insightful read on Canadian politics from all party angles since 2006. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the running of our country.

Mar 24, 2014

Insightful as always, Wells proposes that Harper plans to make Canada conservative by preventing anyone else from keeping it liberal, and that his primary weapon is to make many small changes that accumulate rather than grand schemes that could polarize the opposition. Curiously, Wells doesn't mention the tactic that in my view Harper used so effectively to survive minority government: continuously providing the opposition an issue to furiously fight over that was irrelevant to voters outside the Ottawa bubble. And, a large part of this book is a detailed history of the first 6 years of the Harper Government, not the exciting stuff of Wells' first book; a better editor should have trimmed those parts.

Feb 04, 2014

I started reading this book, and while it is good that it's not all negative and there are positive aspects of Stephen Harper, I could not agree and continue reading it.

Why should Alberta or any one province have control over Canada as a whole?

And if someone could please answer my question, what exactly are the Conservatives conserving? My only answer is, they are conserving the fear instilled in everyone of the government.

NDP is the way to go. I never voted Conservative, and never will.

Nov 10, 2013

An easy read that shows generalities and tries to illustrate the current PM's positive and negative character aspects. Conservatives that have not travelled more than 60 miles in their lifetime. Muddling through as a administrative philosophy (via Lindblom).Not sure the bland approach makes this PM forever acceptable, but it works better than being noticeably obnoxious. Most changes wrought are hidden and there effects will not be felt for a decade by the unsuspecting. References to Kristol and Brimelow are interesting and possibly insightful for there greater importance; the former relating to our regal civil service and the latter for a view of Canada's elites as being out there somewheres.....sort fo where the Conservatives are now.. Many factors are not mentioned in this tome; one is that each rural Albertan vote equals three votes in the citiies. Witness, the citiies of Edmonton and Calgary voting progressive parties; yet, Alberta as a whole, is Conservative.

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