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Prime Minister Stephen Harper

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Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Pool / Getty Images

Update: 05/04/11

About Stephen Harper:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has worked through the right-leaning parties in Canada, and as Leader of the Canadian Alliance Party oversaw its merger with the Progressive Conservatives to form the new Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. By nature more comfortable with policy than as a political glad-hander, Stephen Harper has slowly become more at ease in leadership. He ran a meticulous campaign in the 2006 federal election, and led the Conservatives to a minority government. In the 2008 federal election he increased the size of that minority.

Stephen Harper became increasingly impatient with the constraints that minority government put on his plans. Always a tightly controlling manager, he got more controlling, both with his own MPs and the public service, was increasingly aggressive in attacking the opposition rather than consensus building, and ignored parliament, which he described as "just political games."

In the 2011 federal election, he ran a scripted campaign based on fear, giving the same speech several times a day throughout the entire campaign, and taking few questions. The strategy worked and he won a majority government. His government is left with little presence in Quebec however. He also faces a newly energized NDP in Official Opposition, which has dozens of new and young MPs. Right after the election, Stephen Harper told reporters his plan is to make the Conservatives a mainstream government, ruling closer to the centre.

Prime Minister of Canada:

2006 to present

Birth:

April 30, 1959 in Toronto, Ontario

Education:

  • BA - University of Calgary 1985
  • MA - University of Calgary 1991

Profession:

  • Economist
  • President, National Citizens Coalition 1998

Political Affiliations:

Federal Ridings:

  • Calgary West (1993 to 1997 - Reform Party)
  • Calgary Southwest (2002-04 - Canadian Alliance Party; 2004 to present - Conservative Party of Canada)

Political Career of Stephen Harper:

  • Stephen Harper began his political career as Executive Assistant to Jim Hawkes, Progressive Conservative MP for Calgary West in 1981.

  • He became Chief Policy Officer for the Reform Party in 1987.

  • He became Legislative Assistant to Deborah Grey, the Reform Party's first MP in 1988.

  • Stephen Harper was first elected to the House of Commons as the Reform MP for Calgary West in 1993.

  • He served as the Reform Party critic for finance and national unity.

  • Stephen Harper did not seek re-election in 1997.

  • In March 2002, Stephen Harper was elected Leader of the Canadian Alliance Party.

  • He was elected to the House of Commons in Calgary Southwest in May 2002.

  • After on-and-off negotiations, Stephen Harper signed an agreement with Peter MacKay of the Progressive Conservative Party to merge the Canadian Alliance Party and the Progressive Conservative Party into the Conservative Party of Canada in December 2003.

  • Stephen Harper stepped down as the Leader of the Canadian Alliance to run for the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada in January 2004.

  • Stephen Harper was elected Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada in March 2004.

  • In the 2006 general election Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to victory with a minority government.

  • Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada on February 6, 2006.

  • Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to a second minority government in October 2008.

  • On May 2, 2011, Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party won a majority government.

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