Friday, October 25, 2013

Stephen Harper

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Prime Minister Stephen Harper took power in 2006 with a Conservative minority government replacing Paul Martin's minority Liberal regime.

Harper first entered Parliament in 1993 as a Reform Party member, and remained there until 1997 as the representative for Calgary West. 

In 2002, he was elected leader of the Canadian Alliance Party, and was voted into office to serve the riding of Calgary Southwest. The following year, the Alliance joined the Progressive Conservative party to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

This was not a new party; it was a reunification of the bits of the splintered one that had stood for a century until it was virtually obliterated in the election of 1993.

2004 saw another election; this time the Conservatives gained 25 seats, mostly in Ontario. Liberal support was eroding. Under Paul Martin, the Liberals continued to lead with a minority government.

It was the election of 2006 that turned the tables. Finally, Stephen Harper left the Opposition benches to form a government, although with a slim victory. Another election in 2008 increased the support of the Conservatives, and the 2011 election returned them to power with a strong majority.

During this mandate, Harper and his team have said they are focusing on the economy as a top priority. One matter that has caused them trouble is the longstanding opposition to the oil pipeline from Alberta to the coast. This comes mainly from environmentalists and aboriginal groups.

A major current challenge for this government is the Senate scandal. If the three spendthrift senators, Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau are indeed suspended without pay, the move will be unprecedented. Public pressure is mounting to uphold the suspensions, and Harper is looking bad over this, even worse if Duffy is to be believed.

Many Canadians are also upset with Harper's deep cuts to the CBC, and they feel our unique and all-important broadcaster is under attack from the Conservatives, who are making our national broadcaster, the "Mother Corp," increasingly dependent on advertising revenue for its survival.

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