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Stephen Harper

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Stephen Harper

The Right Honourable
Stephen Harper
22nd Prime Minister of Canada
Assumed office
February 6, 2006
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Michaëlle Jean
David Johnston
Preceded by Paul Martin
Leader of the Opposition
In office
May 21, 2002 – February 6, 2006
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien
Paul Martin
Preceded by John Reynolds
Succeeded by Bill Graham
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada
Assumed office
March 20, 2004
Preceded by John Lynch-Staunton
Leader of the Canadian Alliance
In office
March 20, 2002 – December 7, 2003
Preceded by John Reynolds (interim)
Succeeded by Party dissolved
Member of the Canadian Parliament
from Calgary Southwest
Assumed office
June 28, 2002
Preceded by Preston Manning
Member of the Canadian Parliament
from Calgary West
In office
October 25, 1993 – June 2, 1997
Preceded by James Hawkes
Succeeded by Rob Anders
Personal details
Born Stephen Joseph Harper
(1959-04-30) April 30, 1959
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Political party Conservative (2003–present)
Other political
Liberal (Before 1985)
Progressive Conservative (1985–1987)
Reform (1987–1997)
Alliance (2002–2003)
Spouse(s) Laureen Teskey (m. 1993)
Children Benjamin
Residence 24 Sussex Drive (Official)
Calgary, Alberta (Private)
Alma mater University of Calgary
Profession Economist
Religion Evangelicalism
Website Official website

Stephen Joseph Harper (born April 30, 1959) is a Canadian politician who is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and the Leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister in 2006, forming a minority government after the 2006 election. He is the first prime minister to come from the newly reconstituted Conservative Party, which formed after a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.

Harper has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Calgary Southwest in Alberta since 2002. Earlier, from 1993 to 1997, he was the MP for Calgary West. He was one of the founding members of the Reform Party, but did not seek re-election in the 1997 federal election. Harper instead joined and later led the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative lobbyist group.[1] In 2002, he succeeded Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance (the successor to the Reform Party) and returned to parliament as Leader of the Opposition. In 2003, he reached an agreement with Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay for the merger of their two parties to form the Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected as the party's first non-interim leader in March 2004.

Harper's Conservative Party won a stronger minority in the October 2008 federal election, showing a small increase in the percentage of the popular vote and increased representation in the Canadian House of Commons, with 143 of 308 seats. The 40th Canadian Parliament was dissolved in March 2011, after his government failed a no-confidence vote on the issue of the Cabinet being in contempt of parliament.[2]

In the May 2011 federal election, Harper's Conservative Party won a majority government, the first since the 2000 federal election. His party won 166 seats, an increase of 23 seats from the October 2008 election.[3]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Political beginnings 2
  • Reform MP 3
  • Out of Parliament 4
    • 1997–2000 4.1
    • 2000–01 4.2
  • Canadian Alliance leadership 5
  • Conservative Party leadership 6
    • 2004 federal election 6.1
      • Agreement with the BQ and the NDP 6.1.1
    • Harper as Conservative leader and Leader of the Opposition 6.2
    • 2006 federal election 6.3
  • Prime minister 7
    • 2008 federal election 7.1
    • 2008 Parliamentary dispute and prorogation 7.2
    • 2010 prorogation 7.3
    • 2010 Senate appointments 7.4
    • 2011 vote of non-confidence 7.5
    • 2011 election 7.6
  • World view 8
    • Domestic policy 8.1
    • Economic management 8.2
    • Senate 8.3
    • 2011 Census 8.4
  • Foreign policy 9
    • Afghanistan 9.1
    • Israeli and Jewish affairs 9.2
    • Free Trade with EFTA 9.3
    • United States 9.4
  • Environmental policy 10
  • Media relations and information 11
  • Supreme Court appointments 12
    • Justice Rothstein 12.1
    • Justice Cromwell 12.2
    • Marc Nadon 12.3
  • Honours 13
    • Honorary degrees 13.1
  • Personal life 14
  • Electoral record 15
  • See also 16
  • References 17
  • Further reading 18
  • External links 19

Early life and education

Born and raised in Toronto, Harper was the first of three sons of Margaret (née Johnston) and Joseph Harris Harper, an accountant at Imperial Oil.[4] He attended Northlea Public School and, later, John G. Althouse Middle School and Richview Collegiate Institute, both in Central Etobicoke. He graduated in 1978, and was a member of Richview Collegiate's team on Reach for the Top, a television quiz show for Canadian high school students.[5] Harper enrolled at the University of Toronto but dropped out after two months.[6] He then moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where he found work in the mail room at Imperial Oil.[6] Later, he advanced to work on the company's computer systems. He took up post-secondary studies again at the University of Calgary, where he completed a bachelor's degree in economics. He later returned there to earn a master's degree in economics, completed in 1993. Harper has kept strong links to the University of Calgary, where he often lectured. Harper is the first prime minister since Joe Clark without a law degree.

Political beginnings

Harper became involved in politics as a member of his high school's Young Liberals Club.[7] He later changed his political allegiance because he disagreed with the National Energy Program (NEP) of Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government.[8] 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, especially the administration's fiscal policy[7] and its inability to fully revoke the NEP until 1986. He left the PC Party that same year.[9]

He was then recommended by the University of Calgary's economist Bob Mansell to Preston Manning, the founder and leader of the Reform Party of Canada. Manning invited him to participate in the party, and Harper gave a 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!"[10]

Harper ran for the

  • Quotations related to Stephen Harper at Wikiquote
  • Prime Minister of Canada – official website
  • Conservative Party Website
  • CBC News Indepth: Stephen Harper
  • Stephen Harper at the Internet Movie Database
  • Office of the Prime Minister's channel on YouTube

External links

  • Behiels, Michael D. "Stephen Harper's Rise to Power" (PDF) American Review of Canadian Studies Spring 2010, Vol. 40 Issue 1, pp. 118–45
  • Chantal, Hébert. (2007) French Kiss: Stephen Harper's Blind Date with Quebec Vintage Canada, ISBN 9780676979084
  • Cody, Howard. "Minority Government in Canada: The Stephen Harper Experience" American Review of Canadian Studies 2008 38(1): 27–42
  • Flanagan, Tom. (2009) Harper's Team: Behind the Scenes in the Conservative Rise to Power (2nd ed), ISBN 978-0-7735-3545-9
  • Gutstein, Donald. Harperism: How Stephen Harper and his think tank colleagues have transformed Canada (2014)
  • Johnson, William. (2006) Stephen Harper & the Future of Canada (2nd ed) Douglas Gibson, ISBN 0-7710-4350-3
  • Mackey, Lloyd. (2005) The pilgrimage of Stephen Harper ECW Press ISBN 1-55022-713-0
  • Martin, Lawrence. Harperland: The Politics of Control Viking Canada (2010). ISBN 978-0-670-06517-2
  • Plamondon, Bob. Full Circle: Death and Resurrection in Canadian Conservative Politics (2006), 472 pp., ISBN 978-1-55263-855-2
  • Richer, Andrew. "A Defense Renaissance? The Canadian Conservative Government and the Military," American Review of Canadian Studies (2013) 43#3 pp 424–450. online
  • Wells, Paul. The Longer I'm Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006- (2013)

Further reading

  1. ^ National Citizens Coalition (NCC) – Harper's presidency was a critical period. The Harper Index, May 11, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2011
  2. ^ Bruce Cheadle (March 25, 2011). "Harper government topples on contempt motion, triggering May election".  
  3. ^ Ray Argyle, Turning Points: The Campaigns That Changed Canada – 2011 and Before (2011) excerpt and text search ch 1
  4. ^ William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, p. 7
  5. ^ O'Connor, Naoibh, "'Nerds' tops in Canada" at the Wayback Machine (archived October 19, 2006), The Vancouver Courier, August 5, 2004. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
  6. ^ a b William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, p. 12
  7. ^ a b "Stephen Harper". MiniBio. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  8. ^ William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, p. 19
  9. ^ "Stephen Harper". 2006. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  10. ^ Murphy, Rex (March 22, 2007). "Rex Murphy: Stephen Harper's new priority". Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  11. ^ Geoff White, "Ottawa will be hearing from Reform MP", Calgary Herald, April 21, 1989, pg. A5
  12. ^ Paul Gessell, "The "other' parties are picking up big followings", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, October 26, 1990, A9.
  13. ^ George Oake, "Reform Party tries to avoid appearance of extremism", Toronto Star, April 6, 1991, pg. A12
  14. ^ William Johnson, Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2005), pp. 179–83
  15. ^ Kenneth Whyte, "The right-wingers duke it out in the Calgary West corral", Globe and Mail, October 2, 1993, pg. D2
  16. ^ Neville Nankivell, "Reform's voice will grow louder", Financial Post, October 31, 1995, p. 23
  17. ^ "Harris joins other leaders in calling for change", Hamilton Spectator, October 31, 1995, pg. A1
  18. ^ Dufour, Richard (January 20, 2006). "Who is Stephen Harper, the Conservative poised to be Canada's next prime minister?". World Socialist Web Site (International Committee of the Fourth International). Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  19. ^ Marta Gold, "Same-sex fight going to Ottawa", Hamilton Spectator, June 10, 1994, pg. A3
  20. ^ Joan Crockett, "Robinson lays equality complaint", Hamilton Spectator, June 22, 1994, pg. A12
  21. ^ Edward Greenspon, "Stephen Harper: a neo-con in a land of liberals", Globe and Mail, March 23, 2002, A17.
  22. ^ Johnson, Stephen Harper, p. 222
  23. ^ Dan Lett, "Outlaw Grits say no to party's gun bill", Winnipeg Free Press, April 6, 1995, and "Gun bill advances despite three rebels", Hamilton Spectator, April 6, 1995, A6; David Vienneau, "Torn MPs face high noon on gun law", Toronto Star, June 13, 1995, A21; Janice Tibbets, Harper initially supported long-gun registry, Montreal Gazette, September 13, 2010.
  24. ^ Susan Delacourt, "Charest, Manning dismiss reports of parties' merging", Globe and Mail, April 4, 1995, pg. A5
  25. ^ Geoffrey York, "Reform MPs snarl at party rebuke", Globe and Mail, April 8, 1994, pg. A4
  26. ^ Edward Greenspon, "Reform's renewal off to slow start", Globe and Mail, August 1, 1996, A4; Edward Greenspon, "Manning seeks to repeat party's surge", Globe and Mail, August 2, 1996, pg. A4
  27. ^  
  28. ^  
  29. ^ "Stephen Harper named A NCC Vice-President", Canada NewsWire, January 14, 1997
  30. ^ Thomas Walkom, No title [Second of Five Parts], Toronto Star, April 6, 1997, pg. A1
  31. ^ Stephen Harper and Tom Flanagan, "Our Benign Dictatorship", Next City, Winter 1997
  32. ^ Susan Delacourt, "Seeds planted for opposition to unity plan", Globe and Mail, September 18, 1997, pg. A1
  33. ^ Stephen Harper, "Why Chrétien mustn't flag", Globe and Mail, December 2, 1999, pg. A17
  34. ^ Chantal Hebert, "Harper takes pragmatic approach to Quebec", Toronto Star, April 26, 2002, pg. A25
  35. ^ Daniel Leblanc, "Groups vow to fight new election bill", Globe and Mail, June 8, 1999, pg. A4; "Gagged by statute", National Post, June 8, 2000, pg. A19
  36. ^ National Citizen's Coalition, "NCC To Back New Court Challenge To Wheat Board Monopoly", Canada NewsWire, February 9, 1998, 11:15 report; National Citizen's Coalition, "NCC to blitz prairies with anti-Wheat Board radio ads", Canada NewsWire, August 25, 1999
  37. ^ no title, Toronto Star, February 29, 2000, p. 1
  38. ^ Full text of Stephen Harper's 1997 speech,, December 14, 2005
  39. ^ Susan Riley, "Harper's suspect evolution", December 16, 2005, pg. A18
  40. ^ Jack Aubry, "Battle lines being drawn up for ideological heart of Tories", Hamilton Spectator, April 7, 1998, pg. C3; David Frum was also mentioned as a possible supporter.
  41. ^ Scott Feschuk, "Harper rejects run at Tory leadership", Globe and Mail, April 10, 1998, pg. A1
  42. ^ Rosemary Spiers, "Preston Manning's fork in the road", Toronto Star, February 18, 1999, p. 1; "But who will lead it?", Globe and Mail, February 22, 1999, pg. A10
  43. ^ Michael Taube, "United Alternative needs policy, not Reform party lite", Hamilton Spectator, February 25, 1999, pg. A14
  44. ^ Tim Harper, "Bible belts", Toronto Star, June 17, 2000, p. 1
  45. ^ "That sound you hear is the shifting of conservative ground", April 21, 2000, Globe and Mail, pg. A12
  46. ^ Paul Adams, "Front-runner rides tide of religious conservatism", Globe and Mail, June 26, 2000, pg. A1
  47. ^ Stephen Harper, "On second thought", National Post, October 5, 2000, pg. A18
  48. ^ Stephen Harper, "Get the state out of the economy", National Post, February 8, 2002, pg. A14
  49. ^ Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan et al., "The Alberta Agenda", National Post, January 26, 2001, A14.
  50. ^ Jill Mahoney, "No 'firewall' needed around Alberta, Klein says", Globe and Mail, February 8, 2001, A9.
  51. ^ Stephen Harper, "Separation, Alberta-style: It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada", National Post, December 8, 2000, A18.
  52. ^ National Citizens Coalition, "NCC Ad Campaign Urges Albertans Not to Vote Liberal", Canada NewsWire, February 13, 2001, 11:45 report.
  53. ^ Chantal Hebert, "Alberta, Quebec sing from same complaint book", Toronto Star, February 14, 2001, p. 1.
  54. ^ Richard Mackie, "School tax-credit plan hailed as a money saver", Globe and Mail, June 19, 2001, A5.
  55. ^ Sheldon Alberts, "Harper mounts campaign to lead the right: Behind the scenes", National Post, June 30, 2001, pg. A06
  56. ^ National Citizen's Coalition, "Stephen Harper to Step Down as NCC President", Canada NewsWire, August 13, 2001
  57. ^ "Number 28 for Harper". Canada NewsWire. March 6, 2002. 
  58. ^ "Six Alliance MPs declare or reaffirm support for Harper's leadership bid".  
  59. ^ "Five More MPs endorse Harper". Canada NewsWire. February 20, 2002. 
  60. ^ Harper, Stephen (January 19, 2002). "A vision of federalism for all Canadians". National Post. p. A18. 
  61. ^ Basu, Arpon (January 19, 2002). "Alliance candidate Stephen Harper says French not threatened in Quebec". Canadian Press. 
  62. ^ Laghi, Brian (December 4, 2001). "Harper launches campaign". Globe and Mail. p. A8. 
  63. ^ Laghi, Brian (February 21, 2002). "Harper campaigns on social issues". Globe and Mail. p. A4. 
  64. ^ Hunter, Ian (March 7, 2002). "The cult of policy". Globe and Mail. p. A19. 
  65. ^ "No more Mr. Nice Guy in Alliance leadership race", Kitchener-Waterloo Record, February 4, 2002, pg. A3
  66. ^ Robert Fife, "Day accused of courting evangelicals", National Post, February 9, 2002, pg. A06
  67. ^ Campbell Clark, "Harper attacking minorities, Day leadership camp charges", Globe and Mail, February 12, 2002, pg. A12
  68. ^ Brian Laghi, "Harper, Day swap insults in debate", Globe and Mail, March 8, 2002, pg. A4
  69. ^ Dawn Walton, "Rookie Levant ready to run", Globe and Mail, March 28, 2002, pg. A8; Sheldon Alberts, "'Troubled' Levant lets Harper run", National Post, March 29, 2002, pg. A01
  70. ^ "Alliance leader won't face Tories in byelection bid", Winnipeg Free Press, March 31, 2002, pg. A8
  71. ^ Jeffrey Simpson, "He makes Harper think uncharitable thoughts", Globe and Mail, May 7, 2002, pg. 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, May 9, 2002,
  72. ^ Brian Laghi, "Motion by MLAs condemns Harper", Globe and Mail, May 31, 2002, pg. A5; The motion was brought forward by Nova Scotia NDP leader Darrell Dexter.
  73. ^ Louise Elliott, "Harper calls Canada a nation of defeatists, defends remark about easterners", Canadian Press, May 29, 2002, 17:23 report; Brian Laghi, "Premiers tell Harper his attack was wrong", Globe and Mail, May 30, 2002, pg. A8
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  75. ^ Beers, David (January 25, 2006). "No Bush, please — we're Canadian". Tommy Douglas Research Institute. Archived from the original on June 2, 2008. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  76. ^ a b c "Harper, Layton, Duceppe sought 'co-opposition' in 2004 letter to GG".  
  77. ^ "Letter to Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson". Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  78. ^ Frances Russell (March 30, 2011). "Deception, thy name is Harper". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved April 25, 2011. 
  79. ^ a b Chung, Andrew (March 26, 2011). "Bloc leader accuses Harper of lying about coalition".  
  80. ^ Payton, Laura (March 26, 2011). "Harper wanted 2004 coalition: Duceppe". CBC News. Retrieved March 26, 2011. 
  81. ^ "The Confidence Convention and the May 2005 Vote on the Public Accounts Committee Report". Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
  82. ^ "National Post, May 14, 2005". Retrieved April 20, 2010. 
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  89. ^ Leblanc, Dominic. "Letter requesting investigation to RCMP Commissioner William Elliot" (PDF). The Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 3, 2009. Retrieved March 1, 2008. 
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  95. ^ "39th Parliament, First Session, Edited Hansard, No. 003, Wednesday, April 5, 2006". Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
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  102. ^ News, CBC (December 31, 2009). "PM 'shutting democracy down', says Easter". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
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  104. ^ Delacourt, Susan; Richard J. Brennan (January 5, 2010). "Grassroots fury greets shuttered Parliament". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 20, 2010. 
  105. ^ News, CBC (January 23, 2010). "Thousands protest Parliament's suspension". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
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  119. ^ "Fortier 'didn't want to run' in federal election". CTV News. February 7, 2006.
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  169. ^ "No sign of a hidden agenda". Globe and Mail. September 9, 2008. Retrieved September 10, 2008. 
  170. ^ Kirk Makin (September 9, 2008). "Harper blasted over hasty top-court nomination". Globe and Mail. 
  171. ^ Harris, Kathleen; Czekaj, Laura (October 14, 2008). "Conservatives back in minority power".  
  172. ^ CTV News (December 17, 2006). "Time Magazine dubs Harper Cdn. newsmaker of 2006". CTV. 
  173. ^ Andrew Mayeda (June 28, 2008). "'"PM calls UN conference an 'anti-Western hatefest. National Post. Retrieved January 30, 2011. 
  174. ^ "Harper honoured by Alberta's Blood Tribe", CBC News, The Canadian Press, July 11, 2011
  175. ^ "Stephen Harper World Statesman", CBC News, The Canadian Press, September 27, 2012
  176. ^ PM-to-be's wife kept low profile, The Vancouver Sun
  177. ^ Kingston, Anne, "Wife of the party", Maclean's, August 13, 2007
  178. ^ Campbell, Colin (February 20, 2006). "The church of Stephen Harper". Macleans. Retrieved August 2, 2006. 
  179. ^ "10 Things you might not know about ... Harper". Conservative Party of Canada. Retrieved May 3, 2012. 
  180. ^ Kennedy, Mark (December 20, 2011). "PM Harper set to finish book on Canada's sport". Postmedia News. Retrieved January 9, 2012. 
  181. ^ Keller, Tony (November 6, 2013). "A Great Game: Stephen Harper's hockey history captures the pulse of a young Canada". The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON). Retrieved November 8, 2013. 
  182. ^ Harper, Stephen (December 23, 2006). "Long before Leafs, T.O. had a team to call its own". Toronto: The Star. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  183. ^ Tuck, Simon (January 6, 2007). "Harper prefers 'team' approach to shootouts". Globe and Mail. 
  184. ^  
  185. ^ Brownlee, Karen (August 30, 2006). "Don't quit your day job". The Regina Leader Post. Retrieved December 6, 2006. 
  186. ^ Dunfield, A. (June 25, 2004). "Lighter side: C'est what?". Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 4, 2006. '
  187. ^ Chianello, Joanne (October 2, 2009). "Harper gets on stage with a little help from his wife". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on October 6, 2009. Retrieved October 2, 2009. 
  188. ^ "PM gets by with help from Yo-Yo Ma". CBC News. October 4, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2014. 
  189. ^ "Prime Minister Harper Shoots Cameo On Murdoch Mysteries". CityNews Toronto ( 
  190. ^ Li, Anita (July 13, 2011). "Harper's Murdoch cameo, and other famous political pop culture mashups". The Globe and Mail (Phillip Crawley). Retrieved July 21, 2011. 
  191. ^ "Stephen Harper (I)".  
  192. ^ "Stephen Harper's stylist no longer on public payroll". The Canadian Press. May 18, 2010. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 
  193. ^ Jolivet, Lindsay (March 21, 2013). "Letter writer gets reply, framed cat photo from Prime Minister Harper | Daily Buzz — Yahoo! News Canada". Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  194. ^


See also

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.

Canadian federal election, 2011: Calgary Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Stephen Harper 42,998 75.12 +2.22 $62,436
New Democratic Holly Heffernan 6,823 11.92 +4.12 $1,113
Liberal Marlene Lamontagne 4,121 7.20 −2.11 $14,171
Green Kelly Christie 2,991 5.23 −3.72 $4,879
Independent Larry R. Heather 303 0.53 +0.05 $495
Total valid votes 57,236 100.00
Total rejected ballots 177 0.31
Turnout 57,413 60.95
Eligible voters 94,192
Note: Larry R. Heather's vote as an independent candidate is compared to his vote as a CHP candidate in 2008.
Canadian federal election, 2008: Calgary Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Stephen Harper 38,545 72.90 +0.94 $61,102
Liberal Marlene Lamontagne 4,918 9.31 −2.07 $14,071
Green Kelly Christie 4,732 8.95 +1.32 $1,250
New Democratic Holly Heffernan 4,122 7.80 −0.22 $1,719
Libertarian Dennis Young 277 0.52 +0.52 $398
Christian Heritage Larry R. Heather 256 0.48 −0.52 $1,746
Total valid votes/Expense limit 52,850 100.00 $92,156
Canadian federal election, 2006: Calgary Southwest
Party Candidate Votes %
Conservative Stephen Harper 41,549 72.36
Liberal Mike Swanson 6,553 11.41
New Democratic 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
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
Canadian federal election, 2004: Calgary Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Conservative 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 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
Percentage change figures are factored for redistribution. Conservative Party percentages are contrasted with the combined Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative percentages from 2000.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
Canadian federal by-election, May 13, 2002: Calgary Southwest
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Alliance Stephen Harper 13,200 71.66 $58,959.16
New Democratic 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
Canadian federal election, 1993: Calgary West
Party Candidate Votes %
Reform Stephen Harper 30,209 52.25
Liberal Karen Gainer 15,314 26.49
Progressive Conservative James Hawkes 9,090 15.72
New Democratic 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
Source: Thirty-fifth General Election, 1993: Official Voting Results, Published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Financial figures taken from official contributions and expenses provided by Elections Canada.
Canadian federal election, 1988: Calgary West
Party Candidate Votes %
Progressive Conservative James Hawkes 32,025 58.52
Reform Steve Harper 9,074 16.58
Liberal John Phillips 6,880 12.57
New Democratic 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

Electoral record

In 2014, the National Council of Canadian Muslims decided to sue Harper after he failed to apologize for claiming the group had links to terrorists.[194]

The Harper family has two cats, Stanley and Gypsy.[193]

Harper is 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall.[191] He is the first prime minister to employ a personal stylist, Michelle Muntean, whose duties range from co-ordinating his clothing to preparing his hair and makeup for speeches and television appearances. While formerly on public payroll, she has been paid for by the Conservative Party since "some time [in] 2007".[192]

In October 2010, Harper taped a cameo appearance in an episode of the television show Murdoch Mysteries, which aired July 20, 2011, during the show's fourth season.[189][190]

Harper taped a cameo appearance in an episode of the television show Corner Gas which aired March 12, 2007.[185] He reportedly owns a large vinyl record collection and is a fan of The Beatles and AC/DC.[186] In October 2009, he joined Yo-Yo Ma on stage in a National Arts Centre gala and performed "With a Little Help from My Friends". He was also accompanied by Herringbone, an Ottawa band with whom he regularly practises.[187] He received a standing ovation after providing the piano accompaniment and lead vocals for the song.[188]

[184] for a Saskatoon Kinsmen Club charity event.Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky greats National Hockey League In February 2010, Harper interviewed former [183]. He was interviewed and expressed his views on the state of hockey, and his preference for an overtime period in lieu of a shoot-out.2007 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (TSN) during the broadcast of the Canada–Russia final of the The Sports Network Harper appeared on [182] and writes articles occasionally on the subject.[181] An avid follower of

Harper married Laureen Teskey on December 11, 1993.[176] Laureen was formerly married to New Zealander Neil Fenton from 1985 to 1988.[177] The Harpers have two children: Benjamin and Rachel. Harper is the third prime minister, after Pierre Trudeau and John Turner, to send his children to Rockcliffe Park Public School, in Ottawa. He is a member of the evangelical Christian and Missionary Alliance and attends church at the East Gate Alliance Church in Ottawa.[178] According to party literature, he is learning Spanish.[179]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaking at 2009 Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Personal life

Honorary degrees

On September 27, 2012, Harper received the World Statesman of the Year award. This award was offered through a U.S. group of various faith representatives. This occurred at a black tie banquet in New York. Jean Chrétien was one of the previous recipients from Canada.[175]

On July 11, 2011, Harper was honoured by Alberta's Blood tribe. He was made honorary chief of the Kainai Nation during a ceremony, in which they recognized him for making an official apology on behalf of the Government of Canada for the residential schools abuse. Harper issued this apology in the year 2008. The chief of the tribe explained that he believes the apology officially started the healing and rebuilding of relations between the federal and native councils. Lester B. Pearson, John Diefenbaker, and Jean Chrétien are the only other prime ministers of Canada to have been awarded the same honorary title.[174]

On June 27, 2008, Harper was awarded the Presidential Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism by B'nai B'rith International. He is the first Canadian to be awarded this medal.[173]

Time magazine also named him as Canada's Newsmaker of the Year in 2006. Stephen Handelman wrote "that the prime minister who was once dismissed as a doctrinaire backroom tactician with no experience in government has emerged as a warrior in power".[172]

Harper received the Woodrow Wilson Award on October 6, 2006, for his public service in Calgary. The awards ceremony was held at the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary, the same place where he made his victory speech.[171]


On October 3, 2013, Harper announced the nomination of supernumerary Federal Court of Appeals Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court to replace the retiring Justice Morris Fish.[135] The appointment was challenged by both Ontario lawyer Rocco Galati and the provincial government of Quebec as being contrary to the appointment criteria of Section 6 of the Supreme Court Act. In response, Harper referred the criteria issue to the Supreme Court, as well as the question of whether the government's amendments to the criteria were constitutional. The Supreme Court subsequently ruled in Reference re Supreme Court Act, ss. 5 and 6 that the Nadon appointment was invalid, and that the federal government could not unilaterally amend the Supreme Court Act. Harper subsequently nominated Clement Gascon to the position instead.

Marc Nadon

On September 5, 2008, Harper nominated Justice Cromwell of Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the departure of Justice Michel Bastarache. By and large Cromwell's nomination has been well received, with many lauding the selection,[168][169] however dissent has been noted surrounding the nomination. First, Harper bypassed Parliament's Supreme Court selection panel, which was supposed to produce a list of three candidates for him to choose from.[168] Second, Newfoundland Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy criticized the appointment, citing the Newfoundland government's belief that constitutional convention stipulates that a Newfoundlander should have been named to the Court in the rotation of Atlantic Canadian Supreme Court representation.[170]

Justice Cromwell

In keeping with Harper's election promise to change the appointment process, Rothstein's appointment involved a review by a parliamentary committee, following his nomination by the Prime Minister. Rothstein had already been short-listed, with two other candidates, by a committee convened by Paul Martin's previous Liberal government, and he was Harper's choice. Harper then had Rothstein appear before an 'ad hoc', non-partisan committee of 12 Members of Parliament. This committee was not empowered to block the appointment, though, as had been called for by some members of Harper's Conservative Party.[167]

Justice Rothstein

Harper chose the following jurists to be appointed as justices of the Supreme Court of Canada by the governor general:

Supreme Court appointments

The CAJ again criticized Harper's control over the media in an open letter in June 2010. The CAJ wrote "Politicians should not get to decide what information is released. This information belongs to Canadians, the taxpayers who paid for its production. Its release should be based on public interest, not political expediency. This breeds contempt and suspicion of government. How can people know the maternal-health initiative has been well thought out or that the monitoring of aboriginal bands has been done properly if all Canadians hear is: 'Trust us'?"[165]

Harper has insisted on his right to choose who asks questions at press conferences,[160] which has caused the national media to lodge complaints.[161] In 2007, Harper was awarded the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) "Code of Silence Award" for his "white-knuckled death grip on public information". "If journalists can't get basic information from the federal government, Canadians can't hold the government accountable. The prime minister's office has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the public's right to know," [CAJ President] Welch said. "Harper pledged to run a government that was open, transparent and accountable, but his track record to-date has been abysmal."[162] Some have alleged 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".[163] Harper's director of communications has denied this, saying that "this prime minister has been more accessible, gives greater media scrums and provides deeper content than any prime minister has in the last 10 to 12 years". Some suggest that the Conservatives' then recent electoral success could be credited to their control of the campaign message, a practice that they continued when they became the government.[164]

Media relations and information

The Conservatives have also restricted the ability of government scientists to speak to the public, the media, and even other scientists, leading to criticism that they are trying to limit the debate on environmental issues by "silencing scientists".[159]

The Conservatives have also made significant budget cuts at Environment Canada, leading to criticism that it is undermining the ability of departmental staff to enforce remaining environmental laws.[158]

Since 2006, the Canadian Conservative Party government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has adopted few and gutted many environmental laws and policies dealing with rising greenhouse emissions, pollution problems and climate change.[157]

Environmental policy

United States President Barack Obama meets with Stephen Harper in Ottawa.

The government received American news coverage during the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were more political rhetoric than actual policy. The accuracy of these reports has been debated by both the Obama campaign and the Canadian Government. The news came at a key time nearing the Ohio and Texas primaries, where perceptions among Democratic voters was (and is) that the benefits of the NAFTA agreement are dubious. Thus the appearance that Obama was not being completely forthright was attacked by his opponent Hillary Clinton.[152] ABC News reported that Harper's Chief of Staff, Ian Brodie was responsible for the details reaching the hands of the media.[153] Harper has denied that Brodie was responsible for the leak, and launched an investigation to find the source. The Opposition, as well as Democratic strategist Bob Shrum,[154] criticized the Government on the issue, stating they were trying to help the Republicans by helping Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination instead of Obama. They also alleged the leak would hurt relations with the United States if Obama ever were to become President.[155] Obama was elected President in November. In February, Obama made his first foreign visit, as president, to Ottawa, in which he affirmed support for free trade with Canada, as well as complimenting Canada on its involvement in Afghanistan.[156]

Shortly after being congratulated by David Wilkins for criticizing the Conservatives' plans to assert Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean waters with armed forces.[151] Harper's first meeting as prime minister with the U.S. president occurred at the end of March 2006.

United States

U.S. President Vicente Fox and Stephen Harper, right, at the Chichen-Itza archaeological site in Mexico, in 2006

On June 7, 2007, the Conservative government announced it had finalized free trade negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Under this agreement, Canada increased its trade ties with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In 2006, the value of trade between these partners was $10.7 billion. Canada had originally begun negotiations with the EFTA on October 9, 1998, but talks broke down due to a disagreement over subsidies to shipyards in Atlantic Canada.[150]

Free Trade with EFTA

In 2010, Canada lost a bid for a seat on the UN Security Council. While initially blaming the loss on his rival Ignatieff, Harper later said that it was due to his pro-Israeli stance. Harper then said that he would take a pro-Israeli stance, no matter what the political cost to Canada.[147][148][149] Ignatieff criticized Harper's stance as a "mistake", saying Canada would be better able to defend Israel through the Security Council than from the sidelines and pointed out that it is the Security Council that will determine if sanctions are imposed on Iran.[148] Ignatieff also accused Harper of steering the discussion away from implementing the two-state solution, and instead rendering all discussion into a competition "about who is Israel's best friend".[139]

In March 2009, Harper spoke at a Chabad-Lubavitch to honor the Jewish victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which included an attack on the Nariman House. He expressed condolences over the murder at Chabad's Mumbai center of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka. Harper described the killings as "affronts to the values that unite all civilized people". Harper added that the quick installment of a new rabbi at the Chabad center in Mumbai as a signal that the Jewish people will "never bow to violence and hatred".[146]

In December 2008, the Durban II anti-racism conference, and his government's "support for Israel and [its] efforts at the U.N. against incitement and ... the delegitimization [of Israel]".[145]

The media noted that Harper didn't allow reporters opportunities to ask him questions on his position. Some Canadians, including many Arab and Lebanese Canadians, criticized Harper's description of Israel's response.[144]

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.[142] Speaking of the situation in both Lebanon and Gaza on July 18, Harper said he wanted "not just a ceasefire, but a resolution" but such a thing would not happen until Hezbollah and Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist. Harper blamed Hezbollah for all the civilian deaths. He asserted that Hezbollah's objective is to destroy Israel through violence.[143]

A banner criticising Harper's response to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Toronto

Harper has shown admiration for the State of Israel since the early 1990s. Friends and colleagues describe his views as being the product of thinking and reading deeply about the Middle East. "Toronto Rabbi Philip Scheim, who accompanied Harper to Israel" in 2014 said, "I sense that [Harper] sees Israel as a manifestation of justice and a righting of historical wrongs, especially in light of the Holocaust."[141]

Israeli and Jewish affairs

On March 11 and 12, 2006, Harper made a surprise trip to Afghanistan, where Canadian Forces personnel had been deployed as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force 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. Harper returned to Afghanistan on May 22, 2007, in a surprise two-day visit which included visiting Canadian troops at the forward operating base at Ma'Sum Ghar, located 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Kandahar, making Harper the first prime minister to have visited the front lines of a combat operation.[140]


Michael Ignatieff criticized Harper for cutting foreign aid to Africa by $700 million, falling short of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and cutting eight African countries from the list of priority aid recipients.[139]

On January 20, 2014, Harper addressed the Israeli Knesset in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.[138]

On September 11, 2007, Harper visited Australia and addressed its Parliament.[137]

In 2009, Harper visited China. During the visit Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao publicly scolded Harper for not visiting earlier, pointing out that "this is the first meeting between the Chinese premier and a Canadian prime minister in almost five years";[135] Harper in response said that, "it's almost been five years since we had yourself or President Hu in our country."[135] In 2008, former prime minister Jean Chrétien had criticized Harper for missing opening ceremonies for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing;[136] in response, Dmitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Harper, called the remarks hypocritical, pointing out that Chrétien "attended one of six Olympic opening ceremonies during his 13 years as prime minister.[136]

[134]He has reduced defense spending to 1% of Canadian GDP.
Harper with Vladimir Putin in Hanoi, Vietnam, 2006

During his term, Harper has dealt with many foreign policy issues relating to the United States, War on Terror, Arab-Israeli conflict, free trade, China and Africa.

President of Argentina Cristina Kirchner and Harper

Foreign policy

The move was opposed by some governmental and non-governmental organizations.[126] Federation of Canadian Municipalities; City of Toronto;[127] Canadian Jewish Congress; Evangelical Fellowship of Canada;[128] Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;[129] Canadian Medical Association;[130] Statistical Society of Canada; the American Statistical Association;[131] and Registered Nurses Association of Ontario all opposed the change. However, the Fraser Institute supported the change.[132] The provincial governments of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba, also opposed the change.[133]

Munir Sheikh, Canada's Chief Statistician appointed on Harper's advice,[123] resigned on July 21, 2010, in protest of the government's change in policy.[124] Ivan Fellegi, the former Chief Statistician of Canada, criticized the government's decision, saying that those who are most vulnerable (such as the poor, new immigrants, and aboriginals) are least likely to respond to a voluntary form, which weakens information about their demographic.[125]

Ahead of the Canada 2011 Census, the government announced that the long-form questionnaire (which collects detailed demographic information) will no longer be mandatory. According to Minister of Industry Tony Clement, the change was made because of privacy-related complaints and after consulting with Statistics Canada.[121] However, Canada's privacy commissioner reported only receiving three complaints between 1995 and 2010, according to a report in the Toronto Sun.[122]

2011 Census

After the October 2008 election, Harper again named Senate reform as a priority.[118] By December 2008, he recommended the appointment of 18 senators and in 2009 directed the Governor General to appoint an additional 9 senators. Many of those appointed had close ties with the Conservative Party, including the campaign manager of the Conservative Party, Doug Finley. Critics accused Harper of hypocrisy (the Liberals coined the term "Harpocrisy"). Conservative Senator Bert Brown defended Harper's appointments and said "the only way [the Senate]'s ever been filled is by having people that are loyal to the prime minister who's appointing them."[117]

In 2004, Harper said "the Upper House remains a dumping ground for the favoured cronies of the prime minister."[117] During his term as prime minister from 2006 to 2008, Harper let Senate retirements go unfilled, resulting in 16 Senate vacancies by the October 2008 election.[118] The one exception to this policy was Michael Fortier. When Harper first took office, he directed the Governor General to appoint Michael Fortier to both the Senate and the Cabinet, arguing the government needed representation from the city of Montreal.[119] Although there is a precedent for this action in Canadian history, the appointment led to criticism from opponents who claimed Harper was reneging on his push for an elected Senate. In 2008 Fortier gave up his Senate seat and sought election as a Member of Parliament (MP), but was defeated by a large margin by the incumbent Bloc Québécois MP.[120]


As of January 2010, the ruling Conservatives had raised the federal deficit back to $36 billion. It is claimed by certain pundits that the Conservatives raised Canada's deficit to the largest in the country's history.[112][113] At the same time, Canada had the lowest Debt-to-GDP in the G7 economies.[114] The Economist magazine stated that Canada had come out the recession stronger than any other rich country in the G7.[115][116]

Economic management

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 Québécois 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 that "the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada."[110] Five days later, Harper's motion passed, with a margin of 266–16; all federalist parties, as well as the Bloc Québécois, were formally behind it.[111]

Stephen Harper (left) seated with Ahmadiyya leader Mirza Masroor Ahmad (right) at the grand opening of Baitun Nur, the largest mosque in Canada. (July 5, 2008)

Domestic policy

World view

On May 2, 2011, after a 5-week campaign, Harper led the Conservatives to their third consecutive election victory—the first time a right wing party has accomplished this in half a century. The Conservatives increased their standing in Parliament to 166, up from 143 at the dissolution of the previous Parliament. This resulted in the first centre-right majority government since the Progressive Conservatives won what would be their last majority in 1988. The Conservative Party also received a greater number of total votes than in 2008. Aside from ending five years of minority governments, this election was notable for a number of firsts: bringing the New Democratic Party to official opposition status, the relegation of the Liberals to third place, the election of Canada's first Green Party Member of Parliament, and the decline of the Bloc Québécois (from 47 to 4 seats).

2011 election

Harper's Cabinet was defeated in a no-confidence vote on March 25, 2011, after being found in contempt of Parliament, thus triggering a general election.[108] This was the first occurrence in Commonwealth history of a government in the Westminster parliamentary tradition losing the confidence of the House of Commons on the grounds of contempt of Parliament. The no-confidence motion was carried with a vote of 156 in favor of the motion, and 145 against.[109]

2011 vote of non-confidence

Harper filled five vacancies in the Senate of Canada with appointments of new Conservative senators, on January 29, 2010. The Senators filled vacancies in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick, as well as two vacancies in Ontario. The new senators were Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, of Quebec, Bob Runciman, of Ontario, Vim Kochhar, of Ontario, Elizabeth Marshall of Newfoundland and Labrador and Rose-May Poirier, of New Brunswick. This changed the party standings in the Senate, which had been dominated by Liberals, to 51 Conservatives, 49 Liberals, and five others.[107]

2010 Senate appointments

A poll released by Angus Reid on January 7, found that 53% of Canadians were opposed to the prorogation, while 19% supported it. 38% of Canadians believed that Harper used the prorogation to curtail the Afghan detainee inquiry, while 23% agreed with Harper's explanation that the prorogation was necessary economically.[106]

On December 30, 2009, Harper announced that he would request the governor general prorogue Parliament again, effective immediately on December 30, 2009, during the 2010 Winter Olympics and lasting until March 3, 2010. Harper stated that this was necessary for Canada's economic plan. Jean would grant the request. In an interview with CBC News, Prince Edward Island Liberal member of Parliament Wayne Easter accused the Prime Minister of "shutting democracy down".[101][102] Tom Flanagan, Harper's University of Calgary mentor and former Chief of Staff, also questioned Harper's reasoning for prorogation, stating that "I think the government's talking points haven't been entirely credible" and that the government's explanation of proroguing was "skirting the real issue—which is the harm the opposition parties are trying to do to the Canadian Forces" regarding the Canadian Afghan detainee issue.[103] Small demonstrations took place on January 23 in 64 Canadian cities and towns, and five cities in other countries.[104] A Facebook protest group attracted over 20,000 members.[105]

2010 prorogation

On December 4, 2008, Harper asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to prorogue Parliament in order to avoid a vote of confidence scheduled for the following Monday, becoming the first Canadian PM ever to do so.[100] The request was granted by Jean, and the prorogation lasted until January 26, 2009. The opposition coalition dissolved shortly after, with the Conservatives winning a Liberal supported confidence vote on January 29, 2009.

2008 Parliamentary dispute and prorogation

On October 14, 2008, after a 5-week-long campaign, the Conservative Party won a federal election and increased its number of seats in Parliament to 143, up from 127 at the dissolution of the previous Parliament; however, the actual popular vote among Canadians dropped slightly by 167,494 votes. As a result of the lowest voter turnout in Canadian electoral history, this represented only 22% of eligible Canadian voters, the lowest level of support of any winning party in Canadian history.[99] Meanwhile, the number of opposition Liberal MPs fell from 95 to 77 seats. It takes 155 MPs to form a majority government in Canada's 308 seat Parliament.

2008 federal election

Prime minister

The election gave Harper's Conservatives the largest number of seats in the House, although not enough for a majority government, and shortly after midnight on January 24, Martin conceded defeat. Later that day, Martin informed Governor General Michaëlle Jean that he would resign as prime minister, and at 6:45 p.m. Jean asked Harper to form a government. Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd prime minister on February 6, 2006. In his first address to Parliament as head of government, Harper opened by paying tribute to the Canadian queen, Elizabeth II, and her "lifelong dedication to duty and self-sacrifice."[95] He also said before the Canada-UK Chamber of Commerce that Canada and the United Kingdom were joined by "the golden circle of the Crown, which links us all together with the majestic past that takes us back to the Tudors, the Plantagenets, the Magna Carta, habeas corpus, petition of rights, and English common law."[96] Journalist Graham Fraser said in the Toronto Star that Harper's speech was "one of the most monarchist speeches a Canadian prime minister has given since John Diefenbaker."[97] An analysis by Michael D. Behiels suggests a political realignment may be underway based on the continuance of Harper's government.[98]

Immediately prior to the Christmas break, in a faxed letter to NDP candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the Commissioner of the RCMP, Giuliano Zaccardelli announced the RCMP had opened a criminal investigation into her complaint that it appeared Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office had leaked information leading to insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income trusts. On December 27, 2005, the RCMP confirmed that information in a press release. At the conclusion of the investigation, Serge Nadeau, a top Finance Department bureaucrat, was charged with criminal breach of trust. No charges were laid against then Finance Minister Ralph Goodale.[94]

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, so 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 significantly trailed those of his party, began to rise. In response, the Liberals launched negative ads targeting Harper, similar to their attacks in the 2004 election. However, their tactics were not sufficient to erode the Conservative's advantage, although they did manage to close what had been a ten-point advantage in public opinion. As Harper's personal numbers rose, polls found he was now considered not only more trustworthy, but a better choice for prime minister than Martin.[93]

2006 federal election

The audio expert hired by Harper to prove that the tape containing the evidence was doctored reported that the latter part of the tape was recorded over, but the tape was unaltered where Harper's voice said "I don't know the details, I know that, um, there were discussions, um, but this is not for publication?" and goes on to say he "didn't know the details" when asked if he knew anything about the alleged offer to Cadman.[92]

Harper denied any wrongdoing and subsequently filed a civil libel suit against the Liberal Party of Canada. Since libel laws do not apply for statements made in the House of Commons, the basis of the lawsuit was that statements made by Liberal party members outside the House and in articles which appeared on the Liberal party web site made accusations that Harper had committed a criminal act.[87][91]

When asked by Vancouver journalist Tom Zytaruk about the alleged life insurance offer then-opposition leader Stephen Harper states on an audio tape "I don't know the details. I know there were discussions"[86] and goes on to say "The offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election".[86] Harper also stated that he had told the Conservative party representatives that they were unlikely to succeed. "I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind."[86][87] In February 2008 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigated the allegations that Section 119's provisions on bribery and corruption in the Criminal Code had been violated.[88][89] The RCMP concluded their investigation stating that there is no evidence for pressing charges.[90]

On February 27, 2008, allegations surfaced that two Conservative Party officials offered terminally ill, Independent MP Chuck Cadman a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in a May 2005 budget vote.[84] If the story had been proved true, the actions may have been grounds for charges as a criminal offence since, under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP.[85]

The Liberals' support dropped after the first report from the Gomery Commission was issued. On November 24, 2005, Harper introduced a motion of non-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 NDP 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. It was the first time that a Canadian government had been toppled by a straight motion of non-confidence proposed by the opposition. As a result, Parliament was dissolved and a general election was scheduled for January 23, 2006.

Stephen Harper gives a victory speech to party faithful in Calgary after his Conservatives won the 2006 federal election.

Harper was also criticized for supporting his caucus colleague MP Gurmant Grewal.[83] 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.

Following the April 2005 release of Jean Brault's damaging testimony at the Gomery Commission, 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". Shortly thereafter, the Conservatives and Bloc Québécois united to defeat the government on a vote that some considered to be either a confidence motion or else a motion requiring an immediate test of the confidence of the House. The Martin government did not accept this interpretation and argued that vote had been on a procedural motion, although they also indicated that they would bring forward their revised budget for a confidence vote the following week. Ultimately, the effort to bring down the Government 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. At the time, some considered the matter to be a constitutional crisis.[81][82]

Despite the party's move to the centre, the party began a concerted drive against same-sex marriage. Harper was criticized by a group of law professors for arguing that the government could override the provincial court rulings on same-sex marriage without using the "notwithstanding clause", a provision of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It also argued, in general, for lower taxes, an elected Senate, a tougher stance on crime, and closer relations with the United States.

The Conservative Party's first policy convention was held from March 17–19, 2005, in Montreal. Harper had been rumoured to be shifting his ideology closer to that of a Blue Tory, and many thought he'd wanted to move the party's policies closer to the centre. Any opposition to abortion or bilingualism was dropped from the Conservative platform. Harper received an 84% endorsement from delegates in the leadership review.

Harper as Conservative leader and Leader of the Opposition

On March 26, 2011, Duceppe stated that Harper had tried to form a coalition government with the Bloc and NDP in response to Harper's allegations that the Liberals may form a coalition with the Bloc and the NDP.[80]

One month later, on October 4, Mike Duffy, who was later appointed as a Conservative senator by Harper, said "It is possible that you could change prime minister without having an election," and that some Conservatives wanted Harper to temporarily become prime minister without holding an election. The next day Layton walked out on talks with Harper and Duceppe, accusing them of trying to replace Paul Martin with Harper as prime minister. Both Bloc and Conservative officials denied Layton's accusations.[76]

On the same day the letter was written, the three party leaders held a joint press conference at which they expressed their intent to co-operate on changing parliamentary rules, and to request that the Governor General consult with them before deciding to call an election.[79] At the news conference, Harper said "It is the Parliament that's supposed to run the country, not just the largest party and the single leader of that party. That's a criticism I've had and that we've had and that most Canadians have had for a long, long time now so this is an opportunity to start to change that." However, at the time, Harper and the two other opposition leaders denied trying to form a coalition government.[76] Harper said, "This is not a coalition, but this is a co-operative effort."[79]

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.[77][78]

Two months after the federal election, Stephen Harper privately met Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe and New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton in a Montreal hotel.[76] On September 9, 2004, the three signed a letter addressed to then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, stating,

Agreement with the BQ and the NDP

The Liberals were re-elected to power with a minority government, with the Conservatives coming in second place. The Conservatives managed to make inroads into the Liberals' Ontario stronghold, primarily in the province's socially conservative central region. However, they were shut out of Quebec, marking the first time that a centre-right party did not win any seats in that province. 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.

Harper made an effort to appeal to voters in Quebec, a province where the Reform/Alliance side of the merged party had not done well. He was featured in several of the Tories' French-language campaign ads.

Martin's weak performance in the leader's debate, along with an unpopular provincial budget by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty in Ontario, moved the Conservatives into a lead for a time. 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.

Harper led the Conservatives into the 2004 federal election. Initially, new Prime Minister Paul Martin held a large lead in polls, but this eroded due to infighting, Adscam and other scandals surrounding his government. The Liberals attempted to counter this with an early election call, as this would give the Conservatives less time to consolidate their merger.

2004 federal election

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 was elected the first leader of the Conservative Party, 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.

Conservative Party leadership

In March 2003, their speeches in favour gaining no traction in Parliament, Harper and Stockwell Day co-wrote a letter to The Wall Street Journal in which they condemned the Canadian government's unwillingness to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[74][75]

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,[72] 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.[73]

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.[69] 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.[70] Harper was elected without difficulty over New Democrat Bill Phipps, a former United Church of Canada moderator. Harper told a reporter during the campaign that he "despise[d]" Phipps, and declined to debate him.[71]

The tone of the leadership contest turned hostile in February 2002. Harper described Day's governance of the party as "amateurish",[65] 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.[66] The Day campaign accused Harper of "attacking ethnic and religious minorities".[67] In early March, the two candidates had an especially fractious debate on CBC Newsworld.[68] 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.

Stockwell Day called a new Canadian Alliance leadership race for 2002, and soon declared himself a candidate. Harper emerged as Day's main rival, and declared his own candidacy on December 3, 2001. He eventually won the support of at least 28 Alliance MPs,[57] including [64]

Canadian Alliance leadership

[56] Harper announced his resignation from the NCC presidency in August 2001, to prepare a campaign.[55] Day's leadership of the Canadian Alliance became increasingly troubled throughout the summer of 2001, as several party MPs called for his resignation. In June, the

Harper and the NCC endorsed a private school tax credit proposed by Ontario's Progressive Conservative government in 2001, arguing that it would "save about $7,000 for each student who does not attend a union-run public school". Education Minister Janet Ecker criticized this, saying that her government's intent was not to save money at the expense of public education.[54]

Harper also wrote an editorial in late 2000 arguing that Alberta and the rest of Canada were "embark[ing] on divergent and potentially hostile paths to defining their country". He said that Alberta had chosen the "best of Canada's heritage—a combination of American enterprise and individualism with the British traditions of order and co-operation" while Canada "appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country [...] led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task". He also called for a "stronger and much more autonomous Alberta", while rejecting calls for separatism.[51] In the 2001 Alberta provincial election, Harper led the NCC in a "Vote Anything but Liberal" campaign.[52] Some articles from this period described him as a possible successor to Klein.[53]

After the Canadian Alliance's poor showing in the 2000 election, Harper joined with other Western conservatives in co-authoring a document called the "Alberta Agenda". The letter called on Alberta to reform publicly funded health care, replace the Canada Pension Plan with a provincial plan and replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with a provincial police force. It became known as the "firewall letter", because it called on the provincial government to "build firewalls around Alberta" in order to stop the federal government from redistributing its wealth to less affluent regions.[49] Alberta Premier Ralph Klein agreed with some of the letter's recommendations, but distanced himself from the "firewall" comments.[50]

After the death of Pierre Trudeau in 2000, Harper wrote an editorial criticizing Trudeau's policies as they affected Western Canada. He wrote that Trudeau "embraced the fashionable causes of his time, with variable enthusiasm and differing results", but "took a pass" on the issues that "truly defined his century".[47] Harper subsequently accused Trudeau of promoting "unabashed socialism", and argued that Canadian governments between 1972 and 2002 had restricted economic growth through "state corporatism".[48]

When the United Alternative created the Canadian Alliance in 2000 as a successor party to Reform, Harper predicted that Stockwell Day would defeat Preston Manning for the new party's leadership. He expressed reservations about Day's abilities, however, and accused Day of "[making] adherence to his social views a litmus test to determine whether you're in the party or not".[44] Harper endorsed Tom Long for the leadership, arguing that Long was best suited to take support from the Progressive Conservative Party.[45] 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".[46]


Harper considered campaigning for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership in 1998, after Jean Charest left federal politics. Among those encouraging his candidacy were senior aides to Ontario Premier Mike Harris, including Tony Clement and Tom Long.[40] He eventually decided against running, arguing that it would "burn bridges to those Reformers with whom I worked for many years" and prevent an alliance of right-wing parties from taking shape.[41] Harper was skeptical about the Reform Party's United Alternative initiative in 1999, arguing that it would serve to consolidate Manning's hold on the party leadership.[42] He also expressed concern that the UA would dilute Reform's ideological focus.[43]

In 1997, Harper delivered a controversial speech on Canadian identity to the Council for National Policy, a conservative American think tank. He made comments such as "Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it", "if you're like all Americans, you know almost nothing except for your own country. Which makes you probably knowledgeable about one more country than most Canadians", and "the NDP [New Democratic Party] is kind of proof that the Devil lives and interferes in the affairs of men."[38] These statements were made public and criticized during the 2006 election. Harper argued that the speech was intended as humour, and not as serious analysis.[39]

As president of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC) from 1998 to 2002, Harper launched an ultimately unsuccessful legal battle against federal election laws restricting third-party advertising.[35] He led the NCC in several campaigns against the Canadian Wheat Board,[36] and supported Finance Minister Paul Martin's 2000 tax cuts as a positive first step toward tax reform.[37]

Harper remained active in constitutional issues. He was a prominent opponent of the Calgary Declaration on national unity in late 1997, describing it as an "appeasement strategy" against Quebec nationalism. He called for federalist politicians to reject this strategy, and approach future constitutional talks from the position that "Quebec separatists are the problem and they need to be fixed".[32] In late 1999, Harper called for the federal government to establish clear rules for any future Quebec referendum on sovereignty.[33] Some have identified Harper's views as an influence on the Chrétien government's Clarity Act.[34]

Soon after leaving Parliament, Harper and Tom Flanagan co-authored an opinion piece entitled "Our Benign Dictatorship", which argued that the Liberal Party only retained power through a dysfunctional political system and a divided opposition. Harper and Flanagan argued that national conservative governments between 1917 and 1993 were founded on temporary alliances between Western populists and Quebec nationalists, and were unable to govern because of their fundamental contradictions. The authors called for an alliance of Canada's conservative parties, and suggested that meaningful political change might require electoral reforms such as proportional representation. "Our Benign Dictatorship" also commended Conrad Black's purchase of the Southam newspaper chain, arguing that his stewardship would provide for a "pluralistic" editorial view to counter the "monolithically liberal and feminist" approach of the previous management.[31]


Out of Parliament

In April 1997, Harper suggested that the Reform Party was drifting toward social conservatism and ignoring the principles of economic conservatism.[30] The Liberal Party lost seats but managed to retain a narrow majority government in the 1997 federal election, while Reform made only modest gains.

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.[29] He was promoted to NCC president later in the year.

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 Manning at a time when other Reform MPs had been asked to forego parliamentary perquisites.[25] 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.[26] This friction was indicative of a fundamental divide between the two men: Harper was strongly committed to conservative principles and opposed Manning's inclinations toward populism, which Harper saw as leading to compromise on core ideological matters.[27][28]

Harper was the only Reform MP to support the creation of the Canadian Firearms Registry at second reading in 1995, although he later voted against it at third reading stage. He said at the time that he initially voted for the registry because of a poll showing that most of his constituents supported it, and added that he changed his vote when a second poll showed the opposite result. Some accused him of manipulating the second poll to achieve the result he wanted.[23] 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.[24]

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".[21] 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".[22]

Harper has expressed socially conservative views on some issues.[18] 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."[19] Harper also spoke against the possibility of the Canadian Human Rights Commission or the Supreme Court changing federal policy in these and other matters.[20]

Harper emerged a prominent member of the Reform Party of Canada caucus. He 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.[16] 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.[17]

Reform MP

Harper stood for office again in the National Citizens Coalition against Hawkes, although the NCC did not endorse Harper directly.[15]

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.[14] He resigned as policy chief in October 1992.

[13] He delivered a speech at the Reform Party's 1991 national convention, in which he condemned extremist views.[12]

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