Dentons proudly announced Monday that Harper — who does not have a legal degree — and his new consulting company will work from its Calgary office.

The appointment is Harper’s reward from the corporate set for many years of stalwart service. He will now be able to stuff his pockets with greenbacks and 76-cent Canadian dollars.

The recently resigned Calgary MP will no doubt stick a Canadian flag on his suitcase as he peddles his anti-social ideology. Hopefully this will be Harper’s final insult to our national pride.

It’s no surprise that Harper will pick up fat pay cheques from Dentons. The firm likes buying former politicians.

In easily translatable jargon, Dentons said Harper has teamed up with the firm to “provide advice to clients on market access, managing global geopolitical and economic risk, and how to maximize value in global markets.” In other words, he’ll be selling himself based on the credibility he gained during nine years as prime minister.

The Donald of law firms

The company that has given Harper his new gig seems to be constantly expanding and now has more than 7,200 lawyers in over 50 countries.
“Dentons is the Donald Trump of the legal vertical,” wrote legal expert and columnist Mark A. Cohen. “The firm is brash, bigger-than-life, and something entirely different. It receives a disproportionate amount of press because it is always doing something that drops jaws.”

The firm surprised the legal and business worlds by merging with a huge
Chinese firm closely tied to the Communist Party that employs more than 6,000 lawyers working on hundreds of projects, both inside the country and internationally.

Dentons isn’t fussy about which companies it represents in litigation. It works for Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, Citigroup, Duke Energy, Bank of America, Barclays Bank, Wells Fargo, and others.

It’s no surprise that Harper will pick up fat pay cheques from Dentons. The firm likes buying former politicians. Former Liberal PM Jean Chrétien and former Manitoba premier Gary Doer are also on the Dentons payroll, as is former Harper cabinet minister James Moore. Last year, Dentons snapped up controversial former U.S. politician Newt Gingrich.

Privileged information

It is outrageous that a former prime minister is able to join a massive, influential international corporation when his seat in Parliament has barely cooled.

Dentons is deeply involved in all kinds of wheeling and dealing at the highest levels around the world. Part of its success is based on collecting inside information on corporations and governments.

What are the legal constraints on Harper when it comes to his new job? Canada’s Lobbying Act prohibits Harper from being directly involved in lobbying of the Canadian government for five years. The Conflict of Interact Act says that “no former public office holder shall give advice to his or her client, business associate or employer using information that was obtained in his or her capacity as a public office holder and is not available to the public.”

Having been prime minister for nine years, Harper is aware of what is supposed to be confidential information concerning corporations in Canada and what are supposed to be secret arrangements among foreign governments.

Harper will claim he will not reveal privileged information, but there is no way of knowing whether he will break his word. If he were hosted by the King of Saudi Arabia and seeking approval for some energy-related project, would he not be tempted to spill the beans about what he knows about the fossil fuel industry worldwide?

A valuable asset

Harper will be a medium-sized fish at Dentons, but he can help the firm with particular issues and in countries where he has good relations with government leaders.

Given Harper’s record of putting little money toward fighting climate change, he could work with government clients on how to avoid spending millions on carbon reductions and probably with corporate clients on how to avoid carbon penalties.

Harper certainly doesn’t need the money he will earn as a consultant. At 57 years old, he receives $127,000 in annual pension payments.

The firm’s mindset concerning climate change is clear from what a statement on its website: “We help governments deliver world-class, world-first carbon strategies, such as carbon capture and storage programs.”

So far, carbon capture and storage programs have not been reliably developed. However, Dentons doesn’t mind taking big fees from governments for helping them rely on an unproven solution that will save them many millions.

It would have been more appropriate for Harper to get involved in academia. He would have been welcomed at the University of Calgary, where a group of professors and some students established the influential right-wing “Calgary school.”

Harper certainly doesn’t need the money he will earn as a consultant. At 57 years old, he receives $127,000 in annual pension payments. When he turns 60, the amount will increase to $134,000 per year. The Canadian Tax Federation says that Harper’s MP pension pay would add up to roughly $5.5 million by age 90, factoring in for inflationary increases to the payments.

Nick Fillmore is a Toronto freelance journalist who never voted for Stephen Harper. Please visit his blog to read other stories.

Editors’ note: Edited Sept. 17 to correct the spelling of the last name of Gary Doer, former premier of Manitoba.