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Famous Like Me > Footballer > H > Stephen Harper

Profile of Stephen Harper on Famous Like Me

Name: Stephen Harper  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 3rd February 1974
Place of Birth: Easington
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
The Hon. Stephen Harper
Rank: 34th Leader of the Official Opposition
First Term of Office: May 21, 2002 - January 8, 2004
Second Term of Office: March 20, 2004 - Present
First Predecessor: John Reynolds
Second Predecessor: Dr. Grant Hill
First Successor: Dr. Grant Hill
Birth: April 20, 1959
Place of Birth: Toronto, Ontario
Spouse: Laureen Harper
Children one daughter, one son
Profession: economist, lecturer, writer
Political Party: Canadian Alliance
(defunct), Conservative
Religion: Baptist

The Honourable Stephen Joseph Harper, PC, MP, MA (born April 20, 1959, in Toronto, Ontario) is leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

As one of the founding members of the Reform Party, he served as an MP from 1993 to 1997 before leaving to head the National Citizens Coalition. After the ouster of leader Stockwell Day in 2002, Harper became leader of the Canadian Alliance. In 2003, he successfully reached an agreement with Tory leader Peter Mackay to merge the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives. In March 2004, Harper was elected leader of the new Conservative Party.


Harper was born and raised in Toronto and attended Richview Collegiate Institute before finding employment in the oil and gas industry in Alberta in his early twenties. He attended the University of Calgary, receiving a Masters degree in economics. His links to the university remain strong: he was a frequent lecturer and his most prominent policy advisor, Tom Flanagan, was a professor. Harper married Laureen Teskey in 1991. They have two children: Benjamin, born in 1996, and Rachel, born in 1999.

He first became involved in politics as a teenager in high school, serving as a member of his school's Young Liberals Club. However, Harper's political allegiance changed quickly in opposition to the Trudeau government's National Energy Program, which he thought was harming Alberta's energy industry. In 1985 he became an aide to Tory MP Jim Hawkes, but quickly became disillusioned with the government of Brian Mulroney and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Harper was especially critical of the government's fiscal policy and left the party in 1986.

He was recommended to Preston Manning, the founder and leader of the Reform Party, by one of Harper's professors, Tom Flanagan. The young man impressed Manning, who invited him to participate in the party. At age 28, he gave an important speech at Reform's founding convention in Winnipeg, and is credited with creating the party's 1988 election platform.

In the 1988 federal election, Harper ran for a House of Commons seat in Calgary, but lost by a wide margin to Hawkes, his former employer. Harper fared better in the 1993 election, in which he defeated Hawkes to win the riding of Calgary West for the Reform Party. Harper quickly became one of the core members of the Reform caucus. In parliament Harper became known as a staunch fiscal conservative, but more moderate on social values issues. For instance he was one of only two Reform MPs to vote in favour of the Canadian gun registry.

Citing concerns with the leadership style and political positions of Preston Manning and a concern that the Reform Party was being hijacked by social conservative special interest groups, Harper left his seat before the 1997 election to serve as vice-president, then as president, of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), a conservative think-tank and lobby group. With the NCC, Harper launched an ultimately unsuccessful legal battle against federal election finance reform. In 1998, Harper was solicited by the PC Party's "Blue Committee" and Tory MPs Jim Jones and John Herron to seek the recently vacated leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. Harper ultimately declined, concerned that his Reform colleagues would view him as a traitor. After the Canadian Alliance's poor showing in the 2000 election, a disappointed Harper joined with other western conservatives in co-authoring a document that became known as the firewall letter (titled "The Alberta Agenda"). The letter called on Alberta to reform publicly-funded health care, replace the Canada Pension Plan with a similar provincial plan and replace the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with a provincial police force. This was seen as encouragement for Albertan separation by some of his detractors.

Canadian Alliance leadership

When Stockwell Day bowed to pressure from within the Canadian Alliance and resigned from the leadership in the summer of 2001, Harper stood as a candidate in the subsequent leadership election. In the vote on March 20, 2002, Harper handily defeated Day on the first ballot to become leader of the Alliance. He became Leader of the Opposition after returning to Parliament in a by-election in April 2002.

In 2002, Harper stated that the Atlantic Provinces have a "culture of defeat." The (Progressive Conservative controlled) Legislature of Nova Scotia unanimously approved a motion condemning the remark, and was joined by New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and Federal Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark. Harper did not apologize for the remarks, calling the reactions "partisan politics."

His first 18 months as opposition leader were largely devoted towards consolidating the fractured elements of the Canadian Alliance, challenging the agenda of the Liberal government, and encouraging a union of the Canadian Alliance and the federal Progressive Conservatives. The aim of this union was to present only one right-of-centre national party in the next federal election, thus preventing the vote-splitting of the past.

On January 12, 2004, Harper announced his resignation as Leader of the Opposition to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, the result of an successful merger between the Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives led by Peter MacKay. Harper won the Conservative leadership election, with a first ballot majority against Belinda Stronach and Tony Clement on March 20, 2004.

2004 federal election

Harper led the Conservatives during the 2004 federal election, where it was widely believed he had a chance to defeat Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin. After an immensely damaging release by the Auditor General regarding the government's misuse of the Sponsorship Program of the 1990s and what some observers considered voter anger in Ontario against Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty for breaking a promise not to raise taxes, polls showed the Conservatives in a dead heat with the Liberals.

Late in the campaign, the Conservatives began to attract negative attention for controversial prior remarks made by a few MPs and candidates regarding homosexuality, official bilingualism and abortion. Additionally, the Liberal Party began airing controversial TV ads featuring smoggy cities and handguns pointing towards the viewer - the implication being that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives would make Canada more like the United States in negative ways. Harper was also criticized for his stand on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The term "hidden agenda", used commonly in the 2000 election to refer to Stockwell Day, began surfacing with increasing regularity with regards to health care. Harper in turn claimed that the Liberals were running an "American Style Campaign" and were trying to "wrap scandal in the Canadian Flag". The momentum began to swing against his party, although some polls suggested it was neck and neck right up until election day.

The Conservative Party was successful in gaining seats in Ontario, where the Reform Party and Canadian Alliance had never been able to make significant gains, but Martin was reelected with a minority government and 135 seats. The Conservatives finished in second-place with 99 seats. While the Conservatives had improved on the 72 seats they held entering the election, the party took 29.6% of the popular vote, down from the 37.7% combined total of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives in 2000. Harper maintained support from party members because he was credited with bringing the Progressive Conservative Party and Canadian Alliance together to fight a close election in a short time. Further, the election of a new leader during a minority parliament was not seen as strategically feasible.

Harper as Tory Chief and Leader of the Opposition

Harper has been called a "policy wonk" by his friends and an "ideologue" by his detractors. Observers have suggested that he has recently sought to refine his image to appear more moderate and to appeal to a wider range of the electorate.

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

Under Harper, the Conservative party has sought to make the sponsorship scandal the central issue in Canadian politics.

The party's fight against same-sex marriage has been controversial. Canadians are evenly divided on the issue, but the Conservative base is fairly supportive of the definition with three out of four delegates wishing to maintain the traditional definition of marriage. Harper has been criticized by a group of leading liberal law professors for arguing that the government could over-ride the provincial court rulings without using the "notwithstanding clause", a provision of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In contrast, Harper and constitutional lawyer/Conservative Justice Critic Vic Toews suggest that this clause does not have to be used to enshrine the traditional definition of marriage. Harper's position to provide same-sex couples with the same rights as married couples via civil unions was recently endorsed as constitutional by the law firm Lang Michener. The Supreme Court of Canada specifically declined to pronounce itself on whether reinstating the traditional definition of marriage would be unconstitutional. (Source: Reference re Same-sex marriage, 3 S.C.R. 698 )

Following the April 2005 release of Jean Brault's damaging testimony at the Gomery Inquiry, implicating the Liberals in extensive corruption, many opinion polls placed the Conservatives considerably ahead of Liberals. The Conservatives had earlier abstained from the vote on the 2005 budget, as it was clear Canadians were not interested in an election. With the collapse in Liberal support and the 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" and vowed to "put [the] government out of its misery". The Bloc Québécois agreed to follow suit, while the NDP supported the government due to the amended budget. This effort to bring down the government failed following the decision of prominent and popular Conservative MP Belinda Stronach to cross the floor to the Liberal Party. This moved was controversial and was viewed as opportunistic by conservative observers. Liberals labelled the Conservatives as "in bed with the separatists" and, thus, unpatriotic. The May 19 second reading budget vote passed with Conservative support, however, the NDP amendment to the budget tied rather than failing to pass by one vote (because of Stronach's defection and the support of the independent members). With the Speaker of the House voting to continue debate (following parliamentary precedent), the Liberal Party continued in power. Harper was heavily criticized for the failure of the non-confidence measures and for criticizing the newly minted Minister Stronach.

Harper was also criticized for supporting his caucus colleague MP Gurmant Grewal. Grewal had produced tapes of conversations with Tim Murphy, Paul Martin's chief of staff, in which Grewal claimed he had been offered positions in exchange for his defection. When evidence came to light that Grewal's tapes had been edited, some regarded the decision to make the tapes public as a poor strategy by Harper's communication team. However, in the end, many of the allegations against Grewal turned out to be unsubstantiated.

In early July five members of Harper's communications team resigned.

In early June 2005, the Conservative Party announced that Harper was embarking on a summer of fun, consisting of barbeques, photo ops, and similar events, with the aim of allowing Canadians to get to know the Conservative leader personally. This tour was not much of a success and the resulting picture of Harper in an ill-fitting cowboy outfit further damaged his already little known public persona. Harper is preparing to contest the next election, expected to be called 30 days after Justice Gomery releases his report in Spring 2006.


"Our swords will henceforth be pointed at the Liberals, not at each other." Harper's statement to Canadians on October 16, 2003 when he announced the merger of the PC's and the CA with Peter MacKay.

Preceded by:
Grant Hill
Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons (2nd time)
Succeeded by:
in office
Preceded by:
John Reynolds
Leader of the Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons (1st time)
Succeeded by:
Grant Hill
Preceded by:
John Lynch-Staunton (interim)
Conservative Party Leaders
Succeeded by:
in office

Preceded by:
John Reynolds (interim)
Canadian Alliance Leaders
Succeeded by:
Party dissolves into
Conservative Party of Canada
Leader -
John Lynch-Staunton (interim)

Preceded by:
Preston Manning, Reform/CA
Members of Parliament from Calgary Southwest
Succeeded by:

Preceded by:
Jim Hawkes, PC
Members of Parliament from Calgary West
Succeeded by:
Rob Anders, Reform/CA

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Stephen Harper