When, in the lead-up to the last federal election, the Conservative party wanted to portray Stephen Harper as dedicated and hard-working, the resulting television ad showed a solitary Prime Minister at his desk, going through stacks of presumably important files. Nowhere to be seen were the familiar trappings of the modern office: no BlackBerry, no computer, just a man and his pen.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Harper does use a laptop and an iPad—to research his hockey book, check on the status of bills through Parliament’s website, and work on speeches. But Harper has, in fact, never owned a BlackBerry. And he stopped using a cellphone and email after becoming Prime Minister in 2006. “I’ve actually taken the view as Prime Minister that if I start using these things, then I’ll be doing them myself instead of my staff,” he told the Toronto Star a couple of years ago. “So I make sure the staff knows how to work all the BlackBerries and all those things, and I try and keep focused on the big picture.” The Prime Minister also acknowledged security concerns.
U.S. President Barack Obama famously fought to keep his BlackBerry when he took office. He was ultimately allowed to keep the cherished device, but with added security measures, including a select list of friends and advisers with whom he is allowed to communicate. Obama has since said the gadget had lost some of its appeal under his new circumstances. “I’ve got to admit, it’s no fun because they think that it’s probably going to be subject to the Presidential Records Act, so nobody wants to send me the real juicy stuff,” he told The View last year.
Despite his not carrying a BlackBerry, Harper’s office assures his family can reach him in a number of different ways.