Harper, Stephen, 1959–, prime minister (2006–) of Canada. A founding member of the conservative Reform party (later the Canadian Alliance), he won a seat in the federal parliament in 1993, but broke with party leader Preston Manning four years later and left parliament to head the conservative National Citizens Coalition. In 2002 he was elected Canadian Alliance party leader and subsequently won election to parliament. With Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay he negotiated the merger of their two parties to form the Conservative party of Canada. Harper was elected leader of the new party, which failed to best the Liberals in the 2004 elections. In 2006, however, the Conservatives won a plurality of the seats, and Harper became prime minister of a minority government. New elections in 2008 increased the Conservative plurality. Harper's government remained in power until Mar., 2011, when it lost a confidence vote; he secured a majority in the subsequent elections.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.