Stephen Harper

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The Rt. Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper,
PC, MP, MA
Image:OfficialPhoto.jpg

<small/>


Incumbent
Assumed office 
February 6, 2006
Preceded by Paul Martin

Born April 30, 1959
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Conservative
Spouse Laureen Harper
Religion Christian and Missionary Alliance

Stephen Joseph Harper (born April 30, 1959) is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He became Prime Minister after leading the Conservatives to a minority government win in the January 2006 federal election, which ended more than twelve years of Liberal government.

Harper has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Calgary Southwest in Alberta since 2002, having previously served as the MP for Calgary West from 1993 to 1997. According to Canadian protocol, as Prime Minister, he is styled "The Right Honourable" for life.

As one of the founding members of the Reform Party, he ended his first stint as an MP to head the National Citizens Coalition. In 2002, Stephen Harper succeeded Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance and returned to Parliament as Leader of the Opposition. In 2003, he successfully reached an agreement with Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay to merge the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected as the party's first non-interim leader in March 2004.

Contents

[edit] Background

Stephen Harper was born in Toronto, Ontario. He is the eldest of three sons of Margaret Johnston and Joseph Harper (1927–2003), an accountant who worked with Imperial Oil. Harper attended John G. Althouse Middle School, and Richview Collegiate Institute, a high school, both in Central Etobicoke, while living at 57 Princess Anne Crescent. He graduated in 1978 as the top student of his graduating year with a 95.7% average, and represented his high school on the TV quiz and trivia show Reach for the Top.<ref name=ReachForTheTop>O'Connor, Naoibh, "'Nerds' tops in Canada", The Vancouver Courier, August 5 2004, accessed on October 9 2006 </ref> Harper briefly studied at the University of Toronto before travelling to Edmonton, where he found employment in the oil and gas industry as a computer programmer in his early twenties. He later attended the University of Calgary, receiving a Master's degree in economics. Harper is the first prime minister since Lester B. Pearson not to have attended law school. His links to the University remain strong, and he has been a frequent lecturer there.

Harper married Laureen Teskey in 1993. They have two children: Benjamin, born in 1996, and Rachel, born in 1999. Harper is the third Prime Minister, after Pierre Trudeau and John Turner, to send their children to Rockcliffe Park Public School, a public school in Ottawa. Stephen Harper occasionally<ref name=McDonaldWalrus>Marci McDonald, "Stephen Harper and the Theo-cons", The Walrus, October 2006.</ref> attends church at the East Gate Alliance Church in Ottawa,<ref>Campbell, Colin. "The church of Stephen Harper", Macleans. Retrieved on 2006-08-02.'</ref> a member of the evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Harper has several hobbies and has participated in many artistic endeavours. He is an avid fan of ice hockey and of the Calgary Flames, although in a recent Toronto Maple Leafs game, cameras had caught him raising his arms after a Toronto goal which raised questions by hockey fans. His son Ben was wearing a Maple Leaf jersey at the game.<ref> CTV News. "PM's hockey loyalties questioned after Leafs goal", CTV, October 5 2006. </ref>

He is also currently writing a history book about the sport.<ref>CBC Hockey Night In Canada interview, June 17 2006.</ref> His father had also been a published author.<ref>Joseph Harper was an avid collector of Canadian Expeditionary Force cap badges and wrote a book on the subject (published by Service Publications).</ref> Harper recently taped a cameo appearance in an upcoming episode of the television show Corner Gas to be aired in spring 2007.<ref>Don't quit your day job, The Regina Leader Post, 2006-08-30</ref> Harper reportedly owns a large vinyl record collection and is an avid fan of The Beatles and AC/DC.<ref>Dunfield, A.. "Lighter side: C'est what?", Globe and Mail, 25 June 2004. Retrieved on 2006-04-04.'</ref>

[edit] Political beginnings

Image:Steveharper-outlook.jpg
Stephen Harper, pictured right, here with young Progressive Conservatives, in 1985.

Harper became involved in politics as a member of his high school's Young Liberals Club. He later changed his political allegiance because of the Trudeau Liberal government's National Energy Program (NEP), which he thought was harmful to Alberta's energy industry. He became chief aide to Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes in 1985, but later became disillusioned with both the party and the government of Brian Mulroney. Harper was especially critical of the Mulroney government's fiscal policy, and its inability to fully revoke the NEP until 1986. He left the PC Party that same year.

He was then recommended by Western economist Bob Mansell to Preston Manning, the founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada. Harper impressed Manning, who invited him to participate in the party. Harper gave an important speech at Reform's 1987 founding convention in Winnipeg. He became the Reform Party's Chief Policy Officer, and he played a major role in drafting the 1988 election platform. He is credited with creating Reform's campaign slogan, "The West wants in!"

Harper ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1988 federal election, appearing on the ballot as Steve Harper in Calgary West. He lost by a wide margin to Hawkes, his former employer. The Reform Party did not win any seats in this election, although party candidate Deborah Grey was elected as the party's first MP in a by-election shortly thereafter. Harper became Grey's executive assistant, and was her chief adviser and speechwriter until 1993.<ref>Geoff White, "Ottawa will be hearing from Reform MP", Calgary Herald, 21 April 1989, A5.</ref> He remained prominent in the Reform Party's national organization in his role as policy chief, encouraging the party to expand beyond its Western base and arguing that strictly regional parties were at risk of being taken over by radical elements.<ref>Paul Gessell, "The "other' parties are picking up big followings", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 26 October 1990, A9.</ref> He delivered a speech at the Reform Party's 1991 national convention, in which he condemned extremist views.<ref>George Oake, "Reform Party tries to avoid appearance of extremism", Toronto Star, 6 April 1991, A12.</ref>

Harper's relationship with Manning became strained in 1992, due to conflicting strategies over the Charlottetown Accord. Harper opposed the Accord on principle for ideological reasons, while Manning was initially more open to compromise. Harper also criticized Manning's decision to hire Rick Anderson as an adviser, believing that Anderson was not sufficiently committed to the Reform Party's principles.<ref>William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2005), pp. 179-183.</ref> He resigned as policy chief in October 1992.

Harper stood for office again in the 1993 federal election, and defeated Jim Hawkes amid a significant Reform breakthrough in Western Canada. His campaign likely benefited from a $50,000 print and television campaign organized by the National Citizens Coalition against Hawkes, although the NCC did not endorse Harper directly.<ref>Kenneth Whyte, "The right-wingers duke it out in the Calgary West corral", Globe and Mail, 2 October 1993, D2.</ref>

[edit] Reform MP

Harper emerged a prominent member of the Reform Party caucus, and earned respect even from political opponents for his intellect and ideological commitment. Author Mordecai Richler once described him as the "one MP of substance" in the party.<ref>Mordecai Richler, "We're in trouble: There isn't even an illusion of choice in the upcoming federal election", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 22 April 1997, A11.</ref>

Harper was active on constitutional issues during his first term in parliament, and played a prominent role in drafting the Reform Party's strategy for the 1995 Quebec referendum. A long-standing opponent of centralized federalism, he stood with Preston Manning in Montreal to introduce a twenty-point plan to "decentralize and modernize" Canada in the event of a "no" victory.<ref>Neville Nankivell, "Reform's voice will grow louder", Financial Post, 31 October 1995, p. 23.</ref> Harper later argued that the "no" side's narrow plurality was a worst-case scenario, in that no-one had won a mandate for change.<ref>"Harris joins other leaders in calling for change", Hamilton Spectator, 31 October 1995, A1.</ref>

Although not associated with the Reform Party's radical wing, Harper expressed socially conservative views on some issues. In 1994, he opposed plans by federal Justice Minister Allan Rock to introduce spousal benefits for same-sex couples. Citing the recent failure of a similar initiative in Ontario, he was quoted as saying, "What I hope they learn is not to get into it. There are more important social and economic issues, not to mention the unity question".<ref>Marta Gold, "Same-sex fight going to Ottawa", Hamilton Spectator, 10 June 1994, A3.</ref> Harper also spoke against the possibility of the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the Supreme Court changing federal policy in these and other matters.<ref>Joan Crockett, "Robinson lays equality complaint", Hamilton Spectator, 22 June 1994, A12.</ref>

At the Reform Party's 1994 policy convention, Harper was part of a small minority of delegates who voted against restricting the definition of marriage to "the union of one man and one woman".<ref>Edward Greenspon, "Stephen Harper: a neo-con in a land of liberals", Globe and Mail, 23 March 2002, A17.</ref> He actually opposed both same-sex marriage and mandated benefits for same-sex couples, but argued that political parties should refrain from taking official positions on these and other issues of conscience.<ref>Johnson, Stephen Harper, p. 222.</ref>

Harper was the only Reform MP to vote for a bill establishing the Canadian gun registry at second reading stage in 1995, although he voted against it at third reading. He made his initial decision after concluding that a majority of his constituents supported the measure, but changed his mind after deciding there was substantial opposition.<ref>Dan Lett, "Outlaw Grits say no to party's gun bill", Winnipeg Free Press, 6 April 1995 and "Gun bill advances despite three rebels", Hamilton Spectator, 6 April 1995, A6; David Vienneau, "Torn MPs face high noon on gun law", Toronto Star, 13 June 1995, A21.</ref> It was reported in April 1995 that some Progressive Conservatives opposed to Jean Charest's leadership wanted to remove both Charest and Manning, and unite the Reform and Progressive Conservative parties under Harper's leadership.<ref>Susan Delacourt, "Charest, Manning dismiss reports of parties' merging", Globe and Mail, 4 April 1995, A5.</ref>

Despite his prominent position in the party, Harper's relationship with the Reform Party leadership was frequently strained. In early 1994, he criticized a party decision to establish a personal expense account for Preston Manning at a time when other Reform MPs had been asked to forego parliamentary perquisites.<ref>Geoffrey York, "Reform MPs snarl at party rebuke", Globe and Mail, 8 April 1994, A4.</ref> His criticism proved divisive in the party, and he was formally rebuked by the Reform executive council despite winning support from some MPs. His relationship with Manning grew increasingly fractious in the mid-1990s, and he pointedly declined to express any opinion on Manning's leadership during a 1996 interview.<ref>Edward Greenspon, "Reform's renewal off to slow start", Globe and Mail, 1 August 1996, A4; Edward Greenspon, "Manning seeks to repeat party's surge", Globe and Mail, 2 August 1996, A4.</ref> This friction was indictative of a fundamental divide between the two men: Harper was strongly committed to conservative principles and opposed Manning's inclinations toward populism, which he saw as leading to compromise on core ideological matters.<ref>Kenneth Whyte, "That Manning and Harper would clash has always been a safe bet", Globe and Mail, 9 April 1994, D2; John Ibbitson, "Who is Stephen Harper?", Globe and Mail, 14 January 2006, online edition.</ref>

These tensions culminated in late 1996 when Harper announced that he would not be a candidate in the next federal election. He resigned his parliamentary seat on January 14, 1997, the same day that he was appointed as a vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), a conservative think-tank and advocacy group.<ref>"Stephen Harper named A NCC Vice-President", Canada NewsWire, 14 January 1997, 10:51 report.</ref> He was promoted to NCC president later in the year.

In April 1997, Harper suggested that the Reform Party was drifting toward social conservatism and ignoring the principles of economic conservatism.<ref>Thomas Walkom, No title [Second of Five Parts], Toronto Star, 6 April 1997, A1.</ref> The Liberal Party won a second majority government in the 1997 federal election, while Reform made only modest gains.

[edit] Out of parliament

Harper was out of parliament between 1997 and 2001, though he remained active in political circles, authoring or co-authoring a number of essays and articles, one of the most notable being the piece written with Tom Flanagan, entitled Our Benign Dictatorship, which argued that the Liberal Party only retained power through a dysfunctional political system and a divided opposition.<ref>Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan, "Our Benign Dictatorship", Next City, Winter 1997.</ref> After Pierre Elliot Trudeau's death in 2000, Harper also wrote an editorial criticizing Trudeau's policies as they affected Western Canada and accused Trudeau of promoting "unabashed socialism."<ref>Harper Stephen, National Post: On second thought; October 5, 2000; A18</ref><ref>Harper, Stephen; 'National Post: Get the state out of the economy; February 8, 2002; A14</ref>

Encouraged by senior aides to Ontario Premier Mike Harris, including Tony Clement and Tom Long, Harper considered campaigning for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership in 1998.

In late 1999, Harper called for the federal government to establish clear rules for any future Quebec referendum on sovereignty.<ref>Harper, Stephen; Globe and Mail: Why Chrétien mustn't flag; December 2, 1999; A17</ref> Some have identified Harper's views as an influence on the Chrétien government's Clarity Act.<ref>Hebert, Chantal; Toronto Star: Harper takes pragmatic approach to Quebec; April 26, 2002; A25</ref>

When the United Alternative created the Canadian Alliance in 2000 as a successor party to Reform, Harper endorsed Tom Long for the leadership, believing him to be better suited than the contender Stockwell Day.<ref>Tim Harper, "Bible belts", Toronto Star, 17 June 2000, p. 1.</ref><ref>"That sound you hear is the shifting of conservative ground", 21 April 2000, Globe and Mail, A12.</ref> When Day placed first on the first ballot, Harper said that the Canadian Alliance was shifting "more towards being a party of the religious right".<ref>Paul Adams, "Front-runner rides tide of religious conservatism", Globe and Mail, 26 June 2000, A1.</ref>

As several party MPs called for his resignation, Stockwell Day's leadership of the Canadian Alliance became increasingly troubled throughout the summer of 2001. In June, the National Post newspaper reported that former Reform MP Ian McClelland was organizing a possible leadership challenge on Harper's behalf.<ref>Sheldon Alberts, "Harper mounts campaign to lead the right: Behind the scenes", National Post, 30 June 2001, A06.</ref> Harper announced his resignation from the NCC presidency in August 2001, to prepare a campaign.<ref>National Citizen's Coalition, "Stephen Harper to Step Down as NCC President", Canada NewsWire, 13 August 2001, 13:43 report.</ref>

[edit] Canadian Alliance leadership

Day bowed to pressure, and called a new Canadian Alliance leadership race for 2002. He later announced that he would be a candidate to succeed himself. Harper emerged as Day's main rival, and declared his own candidacy on December 3, 2001. He eventually won the support of at least twenty-eight Alliance MPs,<ref>"Number 28 for Harper", Canada NewsWire, March 6, 2002, 13:11 report.</ref> including Scott Reid, James Rajotte<ref>"Six Alliance MPs declare or reaffirm support for Harper's leadership bid", Canadian Press, December 7, 2001, 17:55 report.</ref> and Keith Martin.<ref>"Five More MPs endorse Harper", Canada NewsWire, February 20, 2002, 14:25 report.</ref> During the campaign, Harper reprised his earlier warnings against an alliance with Quebec nationalists, and called for his party to become the federalist option in Quebec.<ref>Harper, Stephen. "A vision of federalism for all Canadians" (newspaper article), National Post, January 19, 2002, p. A18.</ref> He argued that "the French language is not imperilled in Quebec", and opposed "special status" for the province in the Canadian Constitution accordingly.<ref>Basu, Arpon. "Alliance candidate Stephen Harper says French not threatened in Quebec", Canadian Press, January 19, 2002, 17:34 report.</ref> He also endorsed greater provincial autonomy on Medicare, and said that he would not co-operate with the Progressive Conservatives as long as they were led by Joe Clark.<ref>Laghi, Brian. "Harper launches campaign" (newspaper article), Globe and Mail date=December 4, 2001, p. A8.</ref> On social issues, Harper argued for "parental rights" to use corporal punishment against their children and supported raising the age of sexual consent.<ref>Laghi, Brian. "Harper campaigns on social issues" (newspaper article), Globe and Mail, February 21, 2002, p. A4.</ref> He described his potential support base as "similar to what George Bush tapped".<ref>Hunter, Ian. "The cult of policy" (newspaper article), Globe and Mail, March 7, 2002, p. A19.</ref>

The tone of the leadership contest turned hostile in February 2002. Harper described Day's governance of the party as "amateurish",<ref>"No more Mr. Nice Guy in Alliance leadership race", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, 4 February 2002, A3.</ref> while his campaign team argued that Day was attempting to win re-election by building a narrow support base among different groups in the religious right.<ref>Robert Fife, "Day accused of courting evangelicals", National Post, 9 February 2002, A06.</ref> The Day campaign accused Harper of "attacking ethnic and religious minorities".<ref>Campbell Clark, "Harper attacking minorities, Day leadership camp charges", Globe and Mail, 12 February 2002, A12.</ref> In early March, the two candidates had an especially fractious debate on CBC Newsworld.<ref>Brian Laghi, "Harper, Day swap insults in debate", Globe and Mail, 8 March 2002, A4.</ref> The leadership vote was held on March 20, 2002. Harper was elected on the first ballot with 55% support, against 37% for Day. Two other candidates split the remainder.

After winning the party leadership, Harper announced his intention to run for parliament in a by-election in Calgary Southwest, recently vacated by Preston Manning. Ezra Levant had already been chosen as the riding's Alliance candidate and initially declared that he would not stand aside for Harper; he subsequently reconsidered.<ref>Dawn Walton, "Rookie Levant ready to run", Globe and Mail, 28 March 2002, A8; Sheldon Alberts, "'Troubled' Levant lets Harper run", National Post, 29 March 2002, A01.</ref> The Liberals did not field a candidate, following a parliamentary tradition of allowing opposition leaders to enter the House of Commons unopposed. The Progressive Conservative candidate, Jim Prentice, also chose to withdraw.<ref>"Alliance leader won't face Tories in byelection bid", Winnipeg Free Press, 31 March 2002, A8.</ref> Harper was elected without difficulty over New Democrat Bill Phipps, a former United Church moderator. Harper told a reporter during the campaign that he "despise[d]" Phipps, and declined to debate him.<ref>Jeffrey Simpson, "He makes Harper think uncharitable thoughts", Globe and Mail, 7 May 2002, A19. Phipps later said that he was "shocked" by Harper's language. See Louise Elliott, "NDP candidate slams Alliance leader for personal comment, refusal to debate", Canadian Press, 9 May 2002, 17:23 report. </ref>

Harper officially became Leader of the Opposition in May 2002. Later in the same month, he said that the Atlantic Provinces were trapped in "a culture of defeat" which had to be overcome, the result of policies designed by Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments. Many Atlantic politicians condemned the remark as patronizing and insensitive. The Legislature of Nova Scotia unanimously approved a motion condemning Harper's comments,<ref>Brian Laghi, "Motion by MLAs condemns Harper", Globe and Mail, 31 May 2002, A5. The motion was brought forward by Nova Scotia NDP leader Darrell Dexter.</ref> which were also criticized by New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord, federal Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark and others. Harper refused to apologize, and said that much of Canada was trapped by the same "can't-do" attitude.<ref>Louise Elliott, "Harper calls Canada a nation of defeatists, defends remark about easterners", Canadian Press, 29 May 2002, 17:23 report; Brian Laghi, "Premiers tell Harper his attack was wrong", Globe and Mail, 30 May 2002, A8.</ref>

His first 18 months as opposition leader were largely devoted towards consolidating the fractured elements of the Canadian Alliance and encouraging a union of the Canadian Alliance and the federal Progressive Conservatives. The aim of this union was to present only one right-of-centre national party in the next federal election, thus preventing the vote-splitting of the past. In undertaking the merger talks, PC leader Peter MacKay reversed his previous agreement with leadership opponent David Orchard not to merge with the Alliance. After reaching an agreement with MacKay in October 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada officially merged in December, with the new party being named the "Conservative Party of Canada".

Harper is reported to have attended the 2003 meeting of the Bilderberg Group.<ref>CTV news report, 9 June 2006. See also List of Bilderberg attendees.</ref>

[edit] Conservative Party of Canada leadership

On January 12, 2004, Harper announced his resignation as Leader of the Opposition, in order to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. Harper won the Conservative leadership election easily, with a first ballot majority against Belinda Stronach and Tony Clement on March 20, 2004. Harper's victory included strong showings in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.

See also: Stephen Harper Leadership Team

[edit] 2004 federal election

Main article: 2004 Canadian federal election

Harper led the Conservatives during the 2004 federal election, where it was widely believed that due to scandals surrounding the incumbent Liberals under Paul Martin, the party had a chance of victory. However, comments by Conservative MPs, leaked press releases slandering the then Prime Minister, as well as controversial TV attack ads suggesting that the Conservatives would make Canada more like the United States, caused Harper's party to lose some momentum.

Despite gaining seats in Ontario, the Liberals were re-elected to power with a minority government, with the Conservatives coming in second place. Harper, after some personal deliberation, decided to stay on as the party leader. Many credited him with bringing the Progressive Conservative Party and Canadian Alliance together in a short time to fight a close election.

See also: Conservative Party of Canada Campaign Chairs

[edit] Harper as Conservative leader and Leader of the Opposition

The Conservative Party's first policy convention was held from March 17-19, 2005, in Montreal. A more moderate party stance was demonstrated, in accordance with what many viewed as Harper's goal. Any opposition to abortion or bilingualism was dropped from the Conservative platform, though the party was still opposed to same-sex marriage. Harper received an 84% endorsement from delegates in the leadership review.

The party soon began a fight against same-sex marriage. Harper was criticized by a group of law professors for arguing that the government could not override the provincial court rulings without using the "notwithstanding clause", a provision of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Harper and constitutional lawyer/Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews suggest that this clause does not have to be used to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage.

Following the April 2005 release of Jean Brault's damaging testimony at the Gomery Inquiry, implicating the Liberals in the scandal, opinion polls placed the Conservatives ahead of Liberals. The Conservatives had earlier abstained from the vote on the 2005 budget to avoid forcing an election. With the collapse in Liberal support and a controversial NDP amendment to the budget, the party exerted significant pressure on Harper to bring down the government. In May, Harper announced that the government had lost the "moral authority to govern", with the support of the Bloc Québécois. The effort failed following the decision of Conservative MP Belinda Stronach to cross the floor to the Liberal Party. The vote on the NDP amendment to the budget tied, and with the Speaker of the House voting to continue debate, the Liberals stayed in power.

Harper was also criticized for supporting his caucus colleague MP Gurmant Grewal. Grewal had produced tapes of conversations with Tim Murphy, Paul Martin's chief of staff, in which Grewal claimed he had been offered a cabinet position in exchange for his defection. Some experts analyzed the tapes and concluded that a digital copy of the tapes had been edited.

Image:Harper,-Stephen-Jan-23-06.jpg
Stephen Harper gives a victory speech to party faithful in Calgary after his Conservatives won the 2006 federal election.

On November 24, 2005, Harper introduced a motion of no confidence on the Liberal government, telling the House of Commons "that this government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons and needs to be removed." As the Liberals had lost New Democratic Party support in the house by refusing to accept an NDP plan to prevent health care privatization, the no confidence motion was passed by a vote of 171-133. As a result, Parliament was dissolved and a general election was scheduled for January 232006.

[edit] 2006 federal election

Because the Conservatives began the campaign period with a policy-per-day strategy, contrary to the Liberal plan of holding off major announcements until after the Christmas holidays, Harper dominated media coverage for the first weeks of the election. Though his party showed only modest movement in the polls, Harper's personal numbers, which had always trailed his party's significantly, began to rise.

On December 27, 2005, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced it was investigating allegations that Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office had engaged in insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income trusts. The RCMP emphasized that they had no evidence of wrongdoing or criminal activity from any party associated with the investigation, including Goodale. However, the story dominated news coverage for the following week and prevented the Liberals from making their key policy announcements, allowing Harper to refocus his previous attacks against the Liberal party. The Conservatives were soon leading in the polls, and were poised to make a breakthrough in Quebec.

In response, the Liberals launched negative ads targeting Harper, similar to their attacks in the 2004 election. However, their tactics had little effect this time since the Conservatives had much more momentum and had opened up a ten point advantage. Harper's personal numbers had risen considerably and polls found he was now considered not only more trustworthy, but he would also make a better Prime Minister than Martin.<ref>CTV.ca News Staff. "Harper seen as most trusted leader, poll finds", CTV.ca, 2005-01-11. Retrieved on 2006-09-21.</ref>

The Conservative party was elected to a minority government on January 23, and at 6:45 p.m. Governor General Michaëlle Jean asked Harper to form a government. He was sworn in as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister on February 6, 2006.

[edit] Prime Minister

[edit] Domestic

Unlike his recent predecessors, Harper did not name one of his colleagues to the largely honorific post of Deputy Prime Minister. Various observers had expected him to name MacKay, the former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and his deputy party leader, or Lawrence Cannon, as a Quebec lieutenant, to the post. Harper did, however, name an order of succession to act on his behalf in certain circumstances, starting with Cannon, then Jim Prentice, then the balance of his cabinet in order of precedence.

Harper indicated a desire to turn the Canadian Senate into an elected rather than an appointed body, an objective previously proposed by the former Reform Party of Canada. His desire includes fixed election dates with earlier elections possible in the case of minority governments. On September 7, 2006, Harper became the first Canadian Prime Minister to appear before a Senate committee and was present to make his government's case for Senate reform.

After sidestepping the political landmine for most of the first year of his time as prime minister, much as all the post-Charlottetown Accord prime ministers had done, Harper's hand was forced to reopen the Quebec sovereignty debate after the opposition Bloc Quebecois were to introduce a motion in the House that called for recognition of Quebec as a "nation." On November 22, 2006, Harper introduced his own motion to recognize Quebec as a "nation within a united Canada."<ref>CBC News; Quebecers form a nation within Canada: PM; November 22, 2006</ref> Five days later, the Harper's motion passed, with a margin of 266-16; all federalist parties, as well as the Bloc Quebecois, were formally behind it.<ref>Quebecois motion passes, 266-16</ref>

Harper has insisted on his right to choose who asks questions at press conferences, <ref>CBC News: Harper says he's finished with Ottawa press corps; May 24, 2006</ref> which has created some conflict with national media.<ref>Global National: Stephen Harper vs. The Press; May 23, 2006</ref> It has been reported that the Prime Minister's Office also "often informs the media about Harper's trips at such short notice that it's impossible for Ottawa journalists to attend the events".<ref>Delacourt, Susan; Toronto Star: PM 'critic' sent packing; October 23, 2006</ref> Since at least March 2006, the Gallery and media managers lodged protests over how the PMO has been handling everything from press conferences to notice of Harper's public events.

[edit] Foreign

[edit] Relations with the United States leaders

Image:Bush Fox Harper.jpg
U.S. President George W. Bush, Former Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, stand in front of the Chichen-Itza archaeological ruins, Thursday, March 30, 2006.

Shortly after being congratulated by George W. Bush for his victory, Harper rebuked U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins for criticizing the Conservatives' plans to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean waters with armed forces. Harper's first meeting with the U.S. President occurred at the end of March, 2006; and while little was achieved in the way of solid agreements, the trip was described in the media as signalling a trend of closer relations between the two nations.

On March 11 and March 122006, Harper made a surprise trip to Afghanistan, where Canadian Forces personnel were deployed since late 2001, to visit troops in theatre as a show of support for their efforts, and as a demonstration of the government's commitment to reconstruction and stability in the region. Harper's choice of a first foreign visit was closely guarded from the press until his arrival in Afghanistan (citing security concerns), and is seen as marking a significant change in relationship between the government and the military. While other foreign leaders have visited Afghanistan, Harper's trip was touted as unprecedented in its length and scope.<ref>yahoo.com</ref>

At the outset of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Harper defended Israel's "right to defend itself" and described its military campaign in Lebanon as a "measured" response, arguing that Hezbollah's release of kidnapped IDF soldiers would be the key to ending the conflict.<ref name="The Globe and Mail">"Harper sides firmly with Israel", Globe and Mail, 2006-07-13.</ref> Some Canadians, including many Arabs, criticized Harper's description of the Israeli response as "measured". On July 17, 2006, Harper noted that the situation had deteriorated since his initial comments, but that it was difficult for Israel to fight "non-governmental forces" embedded in the civilian population. Harper reiterated his earlier support for Israel and called on both sides to show restraint and minimize civilian casualties.

See also: International reactions to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict
Image:Canadian Prime Minister, G8 Summit.jpg
Harper at the 32nd G8 summit, held July 15-17, 2006, which focused much of its attention on the Israel-Lebanon conflict.

Speaking of the situation in both Lebanon and Gaza on July 18, Harper told reporters, "We all want to encourage not just a ceasefire, but a resolution. And a resolution will only be achieved when everyone gets to the table and everyone admits...recognition of each other," referring to the refusal of Hezbollah and Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Harper laid the blame for the civilian deaths on both sides at the feet of Hezbollah. "Hezbollah's objective is violence," Harper asserted, "Hezbollah believes that through violence it can create, it can bring about the destruction of Israel. Violence will not bring about the destruction of Israel... and inevitably the result of the violence will be the deaths primarily of innocent people.".<ref name="National Post">"Neutral stance rejected: Opposition criticizes Harper's tough talk", National Post, 2006-07-19.</ref>

[edit] Supreme Court

Aside from his legislative agenda, Harper put forward Marshall Rothstein to Governor General Michaëlle Jean for appointment as the new Puisne Justice to the Supreme Court of Canada, on February 23, 2006. Rothstein had been 'short listed' with two other potential judges by a committee convened by the previous Liberal government. In keeping with election promises of a new appointment process, Harper announced Rothstein had to appear before an 'ad hoc' non-partisan committee of 12 Members of Parliament. However, the committee did not have the power to veto the appointment, which was what some members of his own party had called for.<ref> Globe and Mail 20 February 2006.</ref>

[edit] Honours

Harper also received the Woodrow Wilson Award on October 6 2006 for his public service in Calgary. It was held at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, the same place where he made his victory speech.


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[edit] Electoral record

2006 federal election : Calgary Southwest edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Conservative (x)Stephen Harper 41,549 72.36
     Liberal Mike Swanson 6,553 11.41
     New Democratic Party Holly Heffernan 4,628 8.06
     Green Kim Warnke 4,407 7.68
     Christian Heritage Larry R. Heather 279 0.49
Total valid votes 57,416 100.00
Total rejected ballots 120
Turnout 57,536
2004 federal election : Calgary Southwest edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Conservative (x)Stephen Harper 35,297 68.36 $62,952.76
     Liberal Avalon Roberts 9,501 18.40 $43,846.23
     Green Darcy Kraus 3,210 6.22 534.96
     New Democratic Party Daria Fox 2,884 5.59 3,648.70
     Marijuana Mark de Pelham 516 1.00 $0.00
     Christian Heritage Larry R. Heather 229 0.44 $985.59
Total valid votes 51,637 100.00
Total rejected ballots 149
Turnout 51,786 64.49
Electors on the lists 80,296
Canadian federal by-election, May 13, 2002 : Calgary Southwest edit
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
     Canadian Alliance Stephen Harper 13,200 71.66 $58,959.16
     New Democratic Party Bill Phipps 3,813 20.70 $34,789.77
     Green James S. Kohut 660 3.58 $2,750.80
     Independent Gordon Barrett 428 2.32 $3,329.34
     Christian Heritage Ron Gray 320 1.74 $27,772.78
Total valid votes 18,421 100.00
Total rejected ballots 98
Turnout 18,519 23.05
Electors on the lists 80,360
1993 federal election : Calgary West edit
Party Candidate Votes %
     Reform Stephen Harper 30,209 52.25
     Liberal Karen Gainer 15,314 26.49
     Progressive Conservative (x)James Hawkes 9,090 15.72
     New Democratic Party Rudy Rogers 1,194 2.06
     National Kathleen McNeil 1,068 1.85
     Natural Law Frank Haika 483 0.84
     Green Don Francis 347 0.60
     Christian Heritage Larry R. Heather 116 0.20
Total valid votes 57,821 100.00
Total rejected ballots 133
Turnout 57,954 66.29
Electors on the lists 87,421
1988 federal election : Calgary West edit
Party Candidate Votes %
     Progressive Conservative (x)James Hawkes 32,025 58.52
     Reform Steve Harper 9,074 16.58
     Liberal John Phillips 6,880 12.57
     New Democratic Party Richard D. Vanderberg 6,355 11.61
     Libertarian David Faren 225 0.41
     Confederation of Regions Brent Morin 170 0.31
Total valid votes 54,729 100.00
Total rejected ballots 117
Turnout 54,846 78.75
Electors on the lists 69,650

All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada. Italicized expenditures refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available.

[edit] See also

[edit] News

[edit] Footnotes

<references/>

[edit] References

  • William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, McClelland & Stewart, 420 pp. (June 2005) ISBN 0-7710-4350-3
  • Lloyd Mackey, The Pilgrimage of Stephen Harper, ECW Press, 221 pp. (August 2005) ISBN 1-55022-713-0

[edit] External links

28th Ministry - Government of Stephen Harper
Cabinet Post
Predecessor Office Successor
Paul Martin Prime Minister of Canada
(February 6 2006- Present)
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Preceded by:
Jim Hawkes, Progressive Conservative
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