Stephen Harper

Stephen Joseph Harper, PC ( born April 30, 1959 in Toronto, Ontario ) is a Canadian politician. Since February 6, 2006, he is the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. Harper was one of the founding members of the Reform Party. From 1993 he was a member of the constituency of Calgary West in the House. After internal disputes Harper came in 1997 from the Reform Party and gave his parliamentary seat on. Five years later he was elected chairman of the Canadian Alliance and represents the constituency since Calgary Southwest. In 2003, he agreed with the elected chairman of the Progressive Conservative Party, the merger of the two parties in March 2004 and was elected chairman of the newly formed Conservative Party.

Background and early political career

Harper is the oldest of three sons of Margaret ( née Johnston ) and Joseph Harper, an accountant at Imperial Oil. He grew up in the province of Ontario in Toronto and Etobicoke. In 1978 he enrolled at the University of Toronto, but broke after only two months, his studies and moved to Calgary in the province of Alberta to work at Imperial Oil. In 1981 he took his degree in Economics from the University of Calgary on again. He graduated in 1985 from a bachelor's degree and earned a Master of Arts in 1991. Later, he was often a guest lecturer at his former university. Harper Laureen Teskey married in 1993, the couple has two children.

Already at the University of times, Harper engaged in the Progressive Conservative Party and in 1985 was assistant to the House of Representatives Jim Hawkes. Disappointed by what he sees as irresponsible fiscal policies of the then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, he joined in 1986 from the party. At the invitation of Preston Manning, he participated in the founding congress of the Reform Party. It was a merger of various stakeholders from Western Canada who were dissatisfied with the lack of consideration westkanadischer interests.

1988 Harper joined in the constituency of Calgary West against his former employer Hawkes, but lost significantly. The Reform Party did not win a single seat short but then won a by-election Deborah Grey and Harper was until 1993, her adviser and speech writer. By October 1992, he was primarily responsible for the party program of the Reform Party, then fell out but with the party leader Preston Manning because of different views on the Charlottetown Accord ( Harper rejected this principle, while Manning was willing to compromise ).

Lower house deputy and lobbyist

In the general election, Harper joined again in 1993 against Hawkes and won by a large margin. The Reform Party benefited from a total collapse of the Progressive Conservatives and became the third strongest party. During his first term as a deputy to the lower house Harper was mainly concerned with financial issues and constitutional reforms. Although he did not belong to the radical wing of the Reform Party, but represented in individual areas socially conservative views.

Harper tried to reduce the growing influence of the populist wing on the price of the Reform Party and publicly criticized members of his own party. As the chairman of Preston Manning was not willing to intervene in this matter, Harper left the party. He was on 14 January 1997 on his parliamentary seat. On the same day he was elected Vice President of the National Citizens Coalition, a few months later, he was president of the conservative advocacy group. Among other things, he advocated the privatization of Canadian health care and for a conservative course change in the company policy.

Chairman of the Canadian Alliance and the Conservative Party

After Jean Charest had retired from federal politics, considered Harper to run for the presidency of the Progressive Conservative Party, but ultimately opted against it. 2000 was the successor to the Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance, which was less oriented populist. But the new party succeeded at the general election in 2000 not to extend its influence over Western Canada also, so that the Liberal Party remained in power.

Harper was aware that only the union of all conservative forces could result in a change of power. To achieve this goal, he joined the Canadian Alliance, and ran for the party presidency. On 20 March 2002 he won against the incumbent Stockwell Day. Three months later he won the electoral district of Calgary Southwest a by-election, moved back to the House and was leader of the opposition.

This was followed by secret negotiations with the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives on a merger. Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay, the two party leaders, gave on 16 October 2003, the pending merger known. On 5 December, the members of the alliance voted 96 % and on December 6, those of the Progressive Conservatives with 90 % for the concentration. Two days later, the newly formed Conservative Party was officially registered. For the first time in 16 years he had managed the bundling of the conservative forces in the Canadian political spectrum under one roof.

On 20 March 2004 Harper ran for the office of Chairman of the Conservative Party, and sat down right in the first ballot, by a large margin by. In the following general election on 28 June 2004, the Conservatives were the second largest party, the ruling Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin were forced to form a minority government ( with Harper as leader of the opposition ). A successful vote of no confidence against the weakened by scandals Liberal minority government in November 2005 led to early elections.

Harper was thought to be hard ideologue who was also some sympathizers of the Conservatives too far right. In the election campaign of 2006, he tried increasingly to draw another picture of yourself in public. An avid hockey fan, had even published a book about the history of the sport, was similar to U.S. President George W. Bush as a " compassionate conservative " ( compassionate conservative ). He advocated for strengthening the public health system and called for the tax relief wider population. Many of his campaign promises - emphasis on family values ​​and the fight against crime by more stringent police laws - as well as his campaign style reminiscent of performances by the Republicans in the United States. His political opponents accused him of pandering to the uncritical U.S. government.

Prime minister

In the general election on 23 January 2006, the Conservatives went again emerged as the strongest force, missed the absolute majority of seats, however, clearly. Harper was awarded the contract for the formation of a minority government and was sworn in on February 6, 2006 as the new prime minister. He had to rule against a majority of Liberals, New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Québécois.

In foreign policy, Harper moved Canada closer to its U.S.. His predecessor Paul Martin had some major issues ( opposition to the Iraq war, consent to the Kyoto Protocol, legalization of soft drugs ) sought to distinguish them from Washington and thus burdened the traditionally close relationship with Washington. Harper strengthened the military budget and increased the participation of the army in the peace missions in Haiti and Afghanistan. In regard to Iraq, he announced that he saw no need to send Canadian troops into the country.

Worldwide attention was caught on 11 June 2008, his apology to the First Nations of Canada since 1870 for a systematic basis in policy of forced assimilation in residential schools. The adjustment of children at the civilization in modern white Canada went hand in hand with the suppression of their cultural, linguistic and ethnic identity. The Harpers speech in the Canadian Parliament, who attended, among others, the tribal leader Phil Fontaine, commentators described as " historic gesture ". Since August 2008, the opposition parties had threatened the position of confidence and refused their assistance in the legislative process, Harper announced on 7 September to early elections for 14 October 2008. This indeed he won his party but missed again the absolute majority.

Harper continued his minority government, but saw it after a few weeks because of the financial crisis of massive criticism of his economic policy exposed. The opposition parties announced a vote of no confidence against Harper for 8 December 2008. If successful, the Liberals and the New Democrats have formed with toleration of the Bloc Québécois form a coalition government. Harper then requested at Governor General Michaëlle Jean to suspend the parliamentary work until 26 January 2009 to work out an economic program in the meantime. Four days before the planned vote of no confidence Jean Harper's approved application. Representatives of the opposition saw in this step, only a delay of the failure of conservative minority government.

On December 30, 2009 Harper asked the Governor General again the suspension of Parliament operation for three months, citing in turn to draw up an economic program. Opposition representatives called this measure as a contempt of democratic institutions and accused the government of that she wanted only to dodge uncomfortable questions about the use of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. On January 23, 2010, there were 20 Canadian cities in demonstrations against the " closure of democracy " instead. In November 2010, Harper spoke pointedly against anti-Semitism at the " International Parliamentary Conference against anti-Semitism " in Ottawa. He made ​​it clear that Canada would unequivocally defend the position of Israel.

After a parliamentary commission of inquiry had come to the conclusion that Harper's government denied the Parliament in various cases, important information or had concealed, the opposition parties refused to assent to the budget. With a vote of no confidence, which was successful with 156 to 145 votes, they forced 25 March 2011 early elections that took place on May 2, 2011. These general election Harper Conservative Party for the first time succeeded in winning an absolute majority of seats.