Former MP Jack Harris keeping busy after election loss

On Oct. 19, Jack Harris suddenly found himself with a lot of unexpected free time stretching out in front of him.

'I wasn't expected to lose … so I really hadn't prepared for an alternative,' says former St. John's East MP

Jack Harris, who lost his seat as MP for St. John's East in last year's federal election, isn't ruling out a return to politics. (CBC)

On Oct. 19, Jack Harris suddenly found himself with a lot of unexpected free time stretching out in front of him.

The former NDP MP found himself without a seat in the House of Commons, after Liberal candidate Nick Whalen won St. John's East by fewer than 700 votes in last year's federal election.

The loss took a little while to sink in, Harris says.

"I wasn't expected to lose, not by me or all the pundits, so I really hadn't prepared for an alternative, but the first little while it was like being part of your own wake, people offering you condolences on your loss," he said.

It is a great job, and one that I enjoyed very much and was anxious to continue doing.- Jack Harris

"And there's a lot of work in closing down offices, an office in Ottawa, an office here in St. John's, and tidying up all the paperwork. There's still bits and pieces of that left over."

The upside of the loss, said Harris, is that he's been "given the gift of time" to attend to personal matters in his life that get put on the backburner during the business of political life, as well as pursuing his own interests.

'Haven't been idle'

Harris has been on the advisory panel organizing the Atlantic Charter Conference, taking place in St. John's and Placentia this weekend to mark the 75th anniversary of the Atlantic Charter, a policy statement outlining Allied goals in the Second World War, signed in Newfoundland.

He's also been involved with the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, which is organizing a reception in September for former MPs and MHAs, and serves on the board of the Newfoundland Pony Association.

Jack Harris, pictured with fellow former NDP MP Ryan Cleary, was surprised that he lost his seat in St. John's East in the 2015 federal election. (CBC)

"I'm still a practising member of the bar as such, but I've decided not to go back in full-time practice, and I'm working on developing a mediation practice," he said.

With a shift in his daily activities, Harris said his time is now being filled differently.

"I don't have the time in the day for the number of things that I like to do, so that's a good complaint, I suppose," he said.

"I haven't been idle, but I've had a chance to keep active, do a bit of exercise, look after your health, these sorts of things. I've tried to make good use of the time."

Not ruling out return to politics

Harris said he also misses the House of Commons, and has been back a few times since last fall.

"It is a great job, and one that I enjoyed very much and was anxious to continue doing," he said.

"It's a fantastic role to have the honour of playing, representing your people, your constituents in Parliament and one that I got a great deal of enjoyment from, but also satisfaction in being able to do that job."

Asked if he plans to run again, Harris won't say anything stronger than "we'll see."

"I've been at it for a long time, and we do need to see lots of new people and younger people involved in the process, but you have to wait and see what the situation is."