Stephen Harper's kids draw curiosity of young fans

A group of supporters gathered outside a Conservative rally in Brampton, Ont., hoping to get a glimpse of Harper. "I just saw him today and, yeah, just wanted to know him more if I had the chance," one said. She wasn't talking about Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, but his 18-year-old-son, Ben.

Ben and Rachel Harper have been a consistent presence on the Conservative campaign trail

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper's family listens as he addresses a rally in Winnipeg on Aug. 13. Behind him, from centre left, Ben, Rachel and wife Laureen have been familiar faces on the Conservative campaign trail this month. (Hannah Thibedeau/CBC)

A small group of supporters gathered outside a Conservative rally in Brampton, Ont., this week hoping to get a quick glimpse of Harper.

"I just saw him today and, yeah, just wanted to know him more if I had the chance," Vasudha Sharma told CBC News.

But Sharma, 15, wasn't talking about Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, she was referring to his 18-year-old son, Ben.

Conservative Party supporters outside a Harper rally in Brampton, Ont., on Monday. (Hannah Thibedeau/CBC)

Sharma and her friends were clustered around a Conservative campaign bus hoping to meet Ben and his sister Rachel, 16.

The youthful fans ranged in age from nine to 16, and they were brimming with questions.

"I want to ask him what it feels like to be Stephen Harper's son? Obviously. Everyone wants to know that," 15-year-old Simran Jha hollered from the group.

Her friends began chiming in simultaneously.

"How do you feel being a celebrity?"

"Can you add me to Snapchat?"

"He wanted to marry her [Rachel]," one teenage boy yells at another. "He's lying! He's lying! Lies!" The other jokingly screams back.

The cynicism often associated with politics isn't to be found with this group.

Family campaign road trip

Jha explains why they want to meet the young Harpers.

"Talk to them and we can find out a little bit more — and even, if we want to, you know, do something to change something in the world, we can do it," Jha said.

Ben and Rachel have been front and centre on the election trail with their father and mother, Laureen, since the beginning of the campaign two weeks ago, and not only at announcements and fundraisers.

Ben was directly involved with his dad's preparations for the first leaders' debate and Rachel has been out visiting volunteers at campaign offices with her mother.

The Harpers aren't the only political offspring making appearances on the campaign trail.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has had his family around him at several campaign events, and was attending the Toronto Blue Jays game Friday night with his sons. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May's daughter lent moral support during the leaders' debate. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau brought his kids along for a day of campaigning last weekend.

But so far, the Harpers have been the most visible.

Politics 'in their blood'

In Edmonton, 14-year-old MacKenzie Sly said she would like to know more about the political side of the Harper children.

Mackenzie Sly, 14, left, waits with friends to catch a glimpse of the Harper family at a Conservative rally in Edmonton on Wednesday. (Hannah Thibedeau/CBC)

"[Politics] should be in their blood, probably. If they don't like it, that would be really bad, and it's probably a huge, hectic schedule for them right now," she said.

When school resumes in the fall, their presence on the campaign will be limited. Ben will return to Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., for his second year of studies, and Rachel will be going into Grade 11.

But for the time being, it seems their presence on the cross-country family campaign road trip is drawing the attention of a new generation of Canadians.


  • An earlier version of this story stated that Stephen Harper's daughter, Rachel, is 15. In fact, she is 16.
    Aug 16, 2015 10:40 AM ET

About the Author

Hannah Thibedeau

Parliament Hill

Hannah Thibedeau is a veteran political reporter having covered the Hill for more than 15 years, both behind the scenes and in front of the camera. She covers politics for CBC TV, CBC Radio and CBC Politics online.


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