Stephen Harper

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Stephen Harper (2014)
Stephen Harper's signature

Stephen Joseph Harper , CC , PC (born April 30, 1959 in Toronto ) is a Canadian politician . From 2006 to 2015 he was the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. Harper was one of the founding members of the Reform Party . From 1993 he was an MP for the Calgary West constituency in the House of Commons . After internal disputes, Harper left the Reform Party in 1997 and gave up his parliamentary mandate. In 2002 he was elected chairman of the Canadian Alliance and moved back into the lower house as opposition leader , where he has since represented the Calgary Southwest constituency. In 2003 he agreed the merger of both parties with the chairman of the Progressive Conservative Party and was elected chairman of the newly founded Conservative Party in March 2004 .

In the 2006 general election , the Conservatives became the strongest force and formed a minority government on February 6, 2006 under Harper's leadership. Two years later they increased their share of the vote, but again missed an absolute majority of the seats. This finally succeeded in the 2011 general election . After losing the general election in 2015 , Harper resigned the party chairmanship, and on November 4, he resigned the office of prime minister to Justin Trudeau from the Liberal Party . In 2016 he renounced his parliamentary mandate and withdrew from Canadian politics. Since 2018 he has been chairman of the International Democrat Union , an umbrella organization for conservative parties.

Background and early political career

Harper is the eldest of three sons of Margaret (nee Johnston) and Joseph Harper, an accountant with Imperial Oil . He grew up in Leaside , a suburb of Toronto. His ancestors came from the English county of Yorkshire and emigrated to Nova Scotia in 1784 .

Harper went to Etobicoke in the province of Ontario to school. In 1978 he enrolled at the University of Toronto , but stopped after only two months his studies and moved to Calgary in the province of Alberta to work at Imperial Oil. He was initially employed in internal mail distribution and later worked on the company's computer system. In 1981 he resumed his economics studies at the University of Calgary . He graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's degree and obtained a Master of Arts in 1991 . Later he was often visiting professor at his previous university. In 1993 he married Laureen Teskey and the couple have two children.

Even when he was at university, Harper was politically active in the Young Liberals Club , the youth department of the Liberal Party . Since he did not agree with the energy policy of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau , he later switched to the progressive-conservative party . In 1985 he was assistant to the House of Commons Jim Hawkes . Disappointed with what he considered to be the irresponsible financial policy of then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney , he left the party in 1986. At the invitation of Preston Manning , he took part in the founding congress of the Reform Party . It was an amalgamation of various interest groups from Western Canada who were dissatisfied with the lack of consideration for Western Canadian interests. Harper played a leading role in drafting the manifesto for the 1988 general election .

In 1988, Harper competed against his former employer Hawkes in the Calgary West constituency, but lost significantly with only 16.6% of the vote. The Reform Party did not win a single seat. After Deborah Gray had won a by-election in March 1989 and thus gave the Reform Party its first electoral success, Harper was its chief assistant, advisor and speechwriter until 1993. In addition, he was primarily responsible for the party program of the Reform Party until October 1992, but then fell out with party chairman Preston Manning because of different views on the Charlottetown Accord (Harper rejected it on principle, while Manning was initially willing to compromise).

Member of the House of Commons and lobbyist

In the 1993 general election , Harper faced Hawkes again in Calgary West and won by a large margin (52.2% of the vote). The reform party profited from the total collapse of the previously ruling progressive-conservative party and established itself as the third strongest force. During his first term as a member of the House of Commons, Harper was mainly concerned with financial issues and constitutional reform. Although he did not belong to the radical wing of the Reform Party, he represented socially conservative views in individual areas .

Harper tried to reduce the growing influence of the populist wing on the course of the reform party and publicly criticized members of his own party. Since Chairman Preston Manning was unwilling to intervene on the matter, Harper left the party. He gave up his parliamentary mandate on January 14, 1997 and was elected Vice President of the National Citizens Coalition that same day . A few months later he was president of this conservative lobby group. Among other things, he advocated the privatization of Canadian health care and a conservative change of course in social policy.

Chairman of the Canadian Alliance

When Jean Charest withdrew from federal politics in 1998, Harper considered running for chairmanship of the Progressive Conservative Party. Those who supported a possible Harper candidacy included government adviser to Ontario Prime Minister Mike Harris . In the end, however, he decided against it because it would "tear off too many bridges to those people in the Reform Party" with whom he had worked for years. It would also jeopardize the project of bringing right-wing parties together into an alliance. In 2000, the Canadian Alliance , which was less populist, emerged as the successor to the Reform Party . But the new party, led by Stockwell Day , failed in the 2000 general election to expand its influence beyond western Canada, so the Liberal Party remained in power.

After the death of Pierre Trudeau , Harper wrote an editorial in the National Post in October 2000 . He criticized Trudeau's policies as they continued to have a negative impact on Western Canada. According to Harper, Trudeau "embraced the fashionable themes of his time, with fluctuating levels of enthusiasm and varying results." But he had "refrained from taking care of those things that really define this country". Harper then accused Trudeau of supporting "blatant socialism" and alleged that between 1972 and 2002, Canadian governments used "state corporatism" to restrict economic growth.

Harper was aware that only the union of all conservative forces would enable a change of power. To achieve this goal, he joined the Canadian Alliance and announced on December 3, 2001 that he would run for party leadership. The tone between him and his main competitor Day became sharper when Harper described the party's leadership as "amateurish" and accused Day of building too narrow a party base around the religious right. Day, in turn, accused Harper of attacking ethnic and religious minorities. On March 20, 2002, Harper prevailed against Day in the party election by securing a majority of 55% in the first ballot.

After the election as party chairman, Harper announced that he would run for a by-election in the Calgary Southwest constituency on May 13, 2002 (this seat had become vacant after Preston Manning resigned). The Liberals did not run an opponent, following a parliamentary tradition of not competing with the leaders of an opposition party; Progressive Conservative's Jim Prentice withdrew his candidacy. Harper achieved 71.7% of the vote and thus clearly prevailed against the candidate of the NDP .

Opposition leader and chairman of the Conservative Party

Harper moved into the House of Commons for the second time and became opposition leader . He overcame his differences with Stockwell Day and co-wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal with him in March 2003 . In it, they condemned the Canadian government's reluctance to participate in the invasion of Iraq . In the meantime, secret negotiations had begun with the leadership of the progressive conservatives about a merger. Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay , the two party leaders, announced the upcoming merger on October 16, 2003. On December 5, the members of the Canadian Alliance voted with 96% for the union, on December 6, those of the progressive conservatives with 90%. Two days later the newly formed Conservative Party was officially registered. For the first time in 16 years it was possible to bundle the conservative forces in the Canadian party spectrum under one roof.

On March 20, 2004, Harper ran for the office of chairman of the Conservative Party and won the first ballot with 56.2% of the vote; he prevailed against Belinda Stronach and Tony Clement . In the subsequent general election on June 28, 2004, the Conservatives became the second strongest party, even if the proportion of voters was smaller than that of the previous parties combined. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Paul Martin's ruling liberals were forced to form a minority government, with Harper remaining in the opposition. The Liberal Party was weakened by the so-called sponsorship scandal and its reputation steadily declined when the parliamentary commission of inquiry made new revelations public.

On November 24, 2005, Harper put in a vote of no confidence and told MPs that "this government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons and must be removed." The Liberal Party could no longer count on the support of the social democratic NDP, since it had rejected their plan to prevent the partial privatization of the health system. The vote of no confidence was successful with 171 votes to 133 (the first time in Canadian history). As a result, Governor General Michaëlle Jean dissolved the parliament and put an early election on January 23, 2006 .

Harper after winning the 2006 election

Harper was previously considered a tough ideologist who was too far to the right for some conservative sympathizers. In the weeks leading up to the 2006 general election , he tried harder to paint a different picture of himself in public. An avid hockey fan , who had even published a book about the history of the sport, tried similar to US President George W. Bush as a "compassionate conservative" (compassionate conservative) to show. He campaigned for the strengthening of the health system and demanded tax relief for broad sections of the population. Many of his campaign promises - an emphasis on family values ​​and more crime-fighting through stricter police laws - and his campaigning style were reminiscent of appearances by Republicans in the United States. His political opponents accused him of uncritical ingratiation to the US government.

prime minister

First minority government (2006-2008)

In the general election on January 23, 2006, the Conservatives emerged as the strongest force, but clearly missed the absolute majority of the seats. Harper was commissioned to form a minority government and was sworn in as the new Prime Minister on February 6, 2006. He had to rule against a majority made up of Liberals, New Democrats and the separatist Bloc Québécois . In terms of foreign policy, Harper Canada moved closer to the USA. His predecessor Paul Martin had tried to differentiate himself from Washington on some important issues (rejection of the Iraq war , approval of the Kyoto Protocol , legalization of light drugs ) and thus strained the traditionally close relationship with Washington. Harper increased the military budget and expanded the army's involvement in peacekeeping missions in Haiti and Afghanistan . With regard to Iraq , he announced that he saw no need to send Canadian troops into the country.

On June 11, 2008, his apology to the First Nations of Canada for a systematic policy of forced assimilation in residential schools that had been practiced since 1870 caused a worldwide sensation . The adaptation of children to civilization in modern, white Canada had gone hand in hand with the suppression of their cultural, linguistic, and ethnic identities. Harper's speech in the Canadian Parliament , which was attended by tribal leader Phil Fontaine , among others , was described by commentators as a “historic gesture”.

One of the legislative activities of the first legislature was the reduction in the tax rate for Goods and Services Tax , which had been introduced by the Mulroney government: initially from 7 to 6%, and later to 5%. The Federal Accountability Act , which came into effect in December 2006, eliminated corporate and union donations to political parties, tightened lobbying rules, and created independent control over government spending and accounting.

Second minority government (2008-2011)

Harper at the 2010 World Economic Forum

Since the opposition parties had threatened to put a vote of confidence in August 2008 and refused to support the legislative process, Harper announced on September 7 that a new election would take place on October 14, 2008. He won this, but his party again missed an absolute majority. Harper continued his minority rule, but after just a few weeks, faced with the financial crisis, he was exposed to massive criticism of his economic policy. The opposition parties announced a vote of no confidence in Harper on December 8, 2008. If the outcome was successful, the Liberals and the New Democrats would have formed a coalition government with the tolerance of the Bloc Québécois . Harper then asked Governor General Michaëlle Jean to suspend parliamentary operations until January 26, 2009 in order to work out an economic stimulus program in the meantime. Four days before the planned vote of no confidence, she approved Harper's motion. Opposition representatives saw this move only as a delay in the failure of the conservative minority government.

On December 30, 2009, Harper again requested the Governor General to suspend parliamentary operations for three months, again justifying this with the preparation of an economic program. The opposition described this measure as a disdain for the democratic institutions and accused the government of simply trying to evade uncomfortable questions about the deployment of Canadian troops in Afghanistan . On January 23, 2010, demonstrations against the "closure of democracy" took place in 20 Canadian cities. In November 2010, Harper spoke out pointedly against anti-Semitism at the “International Conference of Parliamentarians against Anti-Semitism” in Ottawa . He made it clear that Canada would unequivocally defend Israel's position .

After a parliamentary commission of inquiry came to the conclusion that Harper's government had withheld or withheld important information from parliament in various cases, the opposition parties refused to approve the budget because of “disregard for parliament”. With a vote of no confidence, which was successful with 156 to 145 votes, they forced an early election on March 25, 2011. In the general election on May 2, 2011 , Harper's Conservative Party won an absolute majority of the seats. While the NDP became the strongest opposition force for the first time, the Liberals slipped to third place.

Majority government (2011-2015)

In the months after the election, the “Robocall scandal” broke out, accusing the Conservative Party of election manipulation. In the Guelph, Ontario area in particular , large numbers of voters had received automated calls asking them to go to a polling station that did not exist. The allegation was that this had reduced voter turnout, which conservative candidates had benefited from. After more than two years of investigation by Elections Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police , Michael Sona, an employee of the Conservative Party, was charged and sentenced to nine months in prison in November 2014.

At the beginning of his tenure, Harper's administration was relatively open to environmental issues. In 2006, for example, the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda was introduced, the aim of which was to limit air pollution. However, there were almost no specific legislative measures in the following years. On the contrary, various provisions have even been relaxed in favor of industry. Efforts to introduce a carbon tax were only made at the provincial level in British Columbia , Québec and Ontario , while these were not made at the federal level. In December 2011, the government announced that Canada would formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol . The then Environment Minister Peter Kent justified this with the fact that the protocol was not suitable as a global solution in the fight against climate change. The withdrawal was completed a year later. The Conservative Party has been criticized on various occasions for restricting the opportunities for scientists working for the federal government to express themselves in public, in the media or even to other scientists. She had to put up with the accusation that she was trying to curb the debate on environmental issues by "silencing" or "silencing" scientists.

Since the legislative period had reached its full length of four years, the new election duly took place on October 19, 2015. On August 2, Governor General David Johnston dissolved Parliament on instructions from Harper. The Conservatives suffered a major defeat in the general election , falling from 166 to 99 seats. This was particularly due to the collapse of conservative support in southern Ontario (especially in the Toronto metropolitan area ) and in the Atlantic provinces . Harper himself was re-elected in the Calgary Heritage constituency (basically his previous constituency with slightly changed boundaries). A few hours after the Liberal Party was victorious, Harper resigned as Chairman of the Conservative Party; but he initially carried on his parliamentary mandate as a backbencher . He handed over his post as Prime Minister to Justin Trudeau on November 4th . On August 22nd, 2016 he received the Ukrainian Order of Freedom . Four days later, Harper also resigned his mandate in the Canadian House of Commons and thus withdrew from politics. In December 2019 he was accepted as a Companion in the Order of Canada and thus received the most important civilian award in the country at the highest level.

See also


  • William Johnson: Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada . McClelland & Stewart, Toronto 2005, ISBN 0-7710-4350-3 .

Web links

Commons : Stephen Harper  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johnson: Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada. P. 5.
  2. ^ John Paul Tasker: What Canadians want to know about Stephen Harper. In: CBC News . September 3, 2015, accessed November 3, 2015 .
  3. ^ Roy MacGregor: Tracing the Prime Minister's family tree. In: The Globe and Mail . May 25, 2009, accessed November 3, 2015 .
  4. ^ Johnson: Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada. P. 12.
  5. ^ Johnson: Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada. P. 19.
  6. ^ Daniel Schwartz: Stephen Harper. In: CBC News . April 4, 2002, archived from the original on February 14, 2003 ; accessed on November 3, 2015 .
  7. ^ Geoff White: Ottawa will be hearing from Reform MP. In: Calgary Herald . April 21, 1989, p. A5.
  8. ^ Johnson: Stephen Harper and the Future of Canada. Pp. 179-183.
  9. ^ Richard Dufour: Who is Stephen Harper, the Conservative poised to be Canada's next prime minister? In: WSWS. January 20, 2006, accessed November 3, 2015 .
  10. Stephen Harper named A NCC Vice-President. In: Canada NewsWire. January 14, 1997.
  11. Jack Aubry: Battle lines being drawn up for ideological heart of Tories. In: The Hamilton Spectator . April 7, 1998, p. C3.
  12. Scott Feschuk: Harper rejects run at the Tory leadership. In: The Globe and Mail . April 10, 1998, p. A1.
  13. Stephen Harper: On second thought. In: National Post . October 5, 2000, p. A18.
  14. Stephen Harper: Get the state out of the economy. In: National Post. February 8, 2002, p. A14.
  15. ^ No more Mr. Nice Guy in Alliance leadership race. In: Kitchener-Waterloo Record . February 4, 2002, p. A3.
  16. Robert Fife: Day accused of courting evangelicals. In: National Post . February 3, 2002, p. A6.
  17. ^ Campbell Clark: Harper attacking minorities, Day leadership camp charges. In: The Globe and Mail . February 12, 2002, p. A12.
  18. ^ Alliance leader won't face Tories in byelection bid. In: Winnipeg Free Press . March 31, 2002, p. A8.
  19. ^ David Beers: No Bush, please - we're Canadian. Tommy Douglas Research Institute, January 25, 2006, archived from the original June 2, 2008 ; accessed on November 3, 2015 .
  20. Harper wins Conservative leadership. In: CBC News . March 22, 2004, accessed November 3, 2015 .
  21. ^ Clifford Krauss: Liberal Party Loses Vote Of Confidence In Canada. In: The New York Times . November 29, 2005, accessed November 3, 2015 .
  22. Matthias Rüb: Canada weeps after the historical gesture. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . June 13, 2008, accessed June 15, 2008 .
  23. ^ Cutting the GST to five per cent. In: Prime Minister's press office. December 31, 2007, archived from the original on November 3, 2015 ; Retrieved November 4, 2015 .
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  25. ↑ Head of government is considering new elections. In: Focus . August 27, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2008 .
  26. Stephen Harper ends gossip in Canada's parliament. In: Tages-Anzeiger . September 7, 2008, accessed September 7, 2008 .
  27. Conservatives apparently strongest force in election in Canada. In: Agence France-Presse . October 15, 2008, archived from the original on October 17, 2008 ; Retrieved October 16, 2008 .
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  29. Gerd Braune: Prime Minister Harper rules without a parliament. In: Handelsblatt . January 6, 2010, accessed January 10, 2010 .
  30. ^ Susan Delacourt, Richard J. Brennan: Grassroots fury greets shuttered Parliament. In: Toronto Star . January 5, 2010, accessed March 25, 2011 .
  31. ^ Matthias Küntzel : International Conference of Parliamentarians against Anti-Semitism in Ottawa. December 9, 2010, accessed December 10, 2010 .
  32. Glora Galloway: Harper government falls in historic Commons showdown. In: The Globe and Mail . March 25, 2011, accessed March 25, 2011 .
  33. Mark Gollom, Andrew Davidson: Harper: Majority win turns page on uncertainties. In: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. May 2, 2011, accessed May 3, 2011 .
  34. Stephen Mahrer, Glen McGregor: Elections Canada investigating 'robocalls' that misled voters. In: Global News. February 23, 2012, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  35. Glen McGregor: Michael Sona gets nine months in jail for his role in 2011 robocalls scandal. In: National Post . November 19, 2014, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  36. David R. Boyd: Little green lies: Prime Minister Harper and Canada's environment. In: iPolitics. February 8, 2012, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  37. ^ Bill Curry, Shawn McCarthy: Canada formally abandons Kyoto Protocol on climate change. In: The Globe and Mail . December 12, 2012, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  38. ^ Verlyn Klinkenborg: Silencing Scientists. In: The New York Times . September 11, 2013, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  39. ^ Jonathon Gatehouse: When science goes silent. In: Maclean’s . May 3, 2013, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  40. ^ Stephen Harper resigns as Conservative leader. In: Maclean’s . October 19, 2015, accessed November 4, 2015 .
  41. Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 340/2016 of August 22, 2016 ; accessed on October 20, 2016 (Ukrainian)
  42. Tonda MacCharles: Former prime minister Stephen Harper resigns as MP. In: The Star . August 26, 2016, accessed April 2, 2020 .
  43. Peter Zimonjic: Nobel laureate Donna Strickland, James Cameron, Inuk actor Johnny Issaluk among Order of Canada appointees. In: CBC / Radio-Canada . December 27, 2019, accessed April 2, 2020 .