Leader of Canada
Mr. Harper was first elected to the House of Commons in 1993 as the Reform Party of Canada Member of Parliament for Calgary West. He stepped down in 1997 to become Vice President (later President) of the National Citizens Coalition, a non-partisan Canadian organization that advocates for individual freedoms and accountable government. In 2002, Mr. Harper won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, became Leader of the Official Opposition and returned to the House as MP for Calgary Southwest.
In 2003, the members of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada voted to unite as the new Conservative Party of Canada, and selected Mr. Harper as their first leader.
Under his leadership, the Conservatives gained 25 seats in the 2004 federal election, largely as a result of a major breakthrough in Canada's most populous province, Ontario. Two years later, Canadians gave Mr. Harper and his party a mandate to form a Conservative government for the first time in 13 years.
In 2008, the Harper-led Conservatives were returned to office with a larger seat count and a mandate to guide Canada through the volatile economic conditions presaging the worst global recession in half a century.
On May 2, 2011, Prime Minister Harper again led the Conservative Party of Canada to victory, this time with a historic strong, stable, national majority government.
Now in his third term, he is working hard to secure Canada's economic recovery. The Government is focused on its top priority - the economy - as it keeps taxes low, eliminates the deficit and lays the foundations for long-term prosperity.
Prime Minister Harper is also continuing to advance Canadians' interests and values on the international stage. In 2010 Canada hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the G8 and G20 summits, and a Royal Tour by Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. In 2011 the country welcomed Their Royal Highnesses Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Under Prime Minister Harper's leadership, Canada is an increasingly popular home for major international sporting events, with the FIFA Women's World Cup, the Pan-American Games and the Para Pan-Am Games having been awarded to Canada.
Stephen Harper was born on April 30, 1959, in Toronto. He moved to Alberta in 1978 to work in the petroleum industry and went on to obtain both a bachelor's and a master's degree in economics from the University of Calgary. Mr. Harper and his wife Laureen have two children, Benjamin and Rachel, and maintain a permanent home in Calgary.