Stephen Harper is a Canadian politician who served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015. He was born on April 30, 1959, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and was raised in Leaside, a neighbourhood in Toronto.
Harper graduated from the University of Calgary in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He worked for the Royal Bank of Canada before entering politics. Harper began his political career in 1985 when he became the chief aide to Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes. In 1989, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Reform Party of Canada in the riding of Calgary West.
Harper quickly rose through the ranks of the Reform Party, and in 1993, he became the party's Chief Policy Officer. In 1997, he became the leader of the Canadian Alliance, a new political party formed by the merger of the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
In 2002, Harper stepped down as leader of the Canadian Alliance and became a private citizen. He returned to politics in 2004, winning the leadership of the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada.
One of Harper's main priorities as Prime Minister was to strengthen Canada's economy. His government implemented a series of tax cuts, including reducing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7% to 5%, and introduced several measures to encourage job creation, such as the Hiring Credit for Small Business. In addition, Harper's government introduced the Economic Action Plan, a stimulus package aimed at creating jobs and stimulating the economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Harper's government was also focused on law and order, introducing a range of tough on crime legislation. This included mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses and firearms offenses, as well as a new law to crack down on cyberbullying. However, these policies were controversial, with critics arguing that they were too punitive and could result in overcrowding in Canada's prisons.
Foreign policy was another key area of focus for Harper's government. Under his leadership, Canada became more involved in the war in Afghanistan, with Canadian troops participating in combat operations in Kandahar province. Harper was also a strong advocate for Israel, and his government took a more pro-Israel stance than previous Canadian governments, which was criticized by some as being too one-sided.
Harper's government also took steps to reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, including introducing regulations on emissions from the oil and gas sector. However, environmental groups argued that these measures did not go far enough to address the issue of climate change.
During his time as Prime Minister, Harper faced several significant challenges, including the 2008 financial crisis, the H1N1 pandemic, and the threat of terrorism. In addition, his government was plagued by scandals, including the Senate expense scandal and the robocall scandal.
During his time as Prime Minister, Harper's government implemented a range of policies, including tough on crime legislation, tax cuts, and foreign policy initiatives such as Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan.
Stephen Harper's Conservative Party of Canada participated in four federal elections during his tenure as party leader and Prime Minister.
The first election that Harper led the Conservative Party in was the 2006 federal election. Harper campaigned on a platform of economic growth and job creation, promising tax cuts and a range of other measures to boost the Canadian economy. The Conservative Party won 124 seats in the House of Commons, defeating the governing Liberal Party, and Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister.
In the 2008 federal election, Harper campaigned on a similar platform of economic growth, job creation, and tax cuts. The Conservative Party won 143 seats, gaining a larger share of the vote than in the 2006 election and forming a minority government.
The 2011 federal election was one of the most significant in Canadian history, as Harper's Conservative Party won a majority government for the first time. Harper campaigned on a platform of economic growth, job creation, and increased support for Canada's military, among other things. The Conservative Party won 166 seats in the House of Commons, and Harper was once again sworn in as Prime Minister.
In the 2015 federal election, Harper campaigned on a platform of economic stability, tax cuts, and a strong response to terrorism. However, his government's record on environmental issues and other policies were criticized by opponents. The Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, ultimately won the election in a landslide, and Harper resigned as leader of the Conservative Party.
In 2015, Harper's Conservative Party was defeated in the federal election, and he resigned as party leader. He subsequently retired from politics and became a consultant and public speaker.