"The Conservative Party of Canada recognizes that no one is immune from terrorist threats in today's world. Further, the $1.2 billion in daily trade between Canada and the United States means we must be especially vigilant in securing our borders with our largest trading partner and closest ally."|
Stephen Joseph Harper, May 31, 2004
Stephen began his career in public service in 1985 as a parliamentary assistant to a Progressive Conservative MP. In 1987, he became a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada, where he served as the party's first Chief Policy Officer and principal author of the 1988 election platform.
Following the 1988 election, Stephen returned to Parliament, again to serve as a parliamentary assistant - this time to the first Reform Member of Parliament, Deborah Grey. He later returned to Calgary to resume his role as Chief Policy Officer of the party, and was a key architect of a plan to eliminate Canada's budget deficit in three years. While in Calgary, he also completed his MA in Economics.
In 1993, he was elected to the House of Commons as the representative for Calgary West. During his tenure as an MP from 1993-97, Stephen earned a reputation as an effective, energetic MP, and a leading spokesperson on finance and national unity issues, in both French and English. He developed a pan-Canadian approach to public policy, and it was in 1995 that Stephen Harper first wrote about the need for a unification of Canadian conservatives into a governing coalition.
In 1997, after leaving Parliament, Stephen continued his public service, becoming president of the National Citizens Coalition, one of the largest public advocacy groups in the country, committed to fundamental political and economic freedom for Canadians. In this role, he enhanced his reputation as a respected, national, conservative voice. During his time at the NCC Stephen was first approached as a potential federal party leader, when several Progressive Conservative activists and Members of Parliament urged him to seek the party's leadership in 1998.
In March of 2002, Stephen was elected leader of the Canadian Alliance. He was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition on May 21, 2002, as the MP for Calgary Southwest. He immediately set out to rebuild and unify the party after some difficult times. In the fall of 2003, he fulfilled the party's founding objective - to unite all like-minded conservatives, including economic conservatives, social conservatives, Progressive Conservatives in the "Red Tory" tradition, and democratic reformers. On October 15, 2003, he signed an agreement in principle with PC Party leader Peter MacKay to create the Conservative Party of Canada. Stephen received a strong mandate from Conservative Party members on March 20, 2004, to lead the new party.
Stephen Harper was born in Toronto in 1959. He and his wife, Laureen, have two young children, Benjamin and Rachel.