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Stephen Harper

Prime Minister of Canada / Political Figure

Born: 30 April 1959
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Best known as: Prime Minister of Canada, 2006-present
Stephen Harper is the Canadian prime minister and the head of the Conservative Party of Canada. Originally from Ontario, he went west as a young man and ended up at the University of Calgary in Alberta. There he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics (1985, 1991) and formed political alliances that began Canada's Reform Party, a group that emphasized the political urges of the western provinces and the merits of free enterprise. Harper was a behind-the-scenes policy guy before he entered the world of elective politics. He served as a member of Parliament from 1993-97, but resigned to take a leadership role with the National Citizens Coalition, a right-wing lobbying group. Harper rose to the top of Canada's conservative movement, and after years of party in-fighting he ended up as its national leader. The 2003 merger of the Canadian Alliance (heir to the Reform Party) and the Progressive Conservative Party gave him national stature and he took over as prime minister in February of 2006, with a minority government. Elections in October of 2008 affirmed Harper as prime minister and won more seats for his party. Influenced by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, Harper advocates for a strong military, provincial rights, free markets and the privatization of services, with the populist appeal of "less government."

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