The Right Honourable Stephen Harper – Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper served as Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister from 2006 to 2015, the longest-serving Conservative Leader to hold this office since Canada’s founding Prime Minister in 1891. Prime Minister Harper created the modern Conservative Party of Canada and won three successive national elections, in 2006, 2008, and 2011. A strong advocate for free trade and open markets, Prime Minister Harper led a government that focused on pragmatic, growth-oriented economic policies and results-driven social policy. Under his leadership, Canada reduced federal taxes to their lowest level in 50 years, created 1.3 million new jobs, balanced the budget while making critical investments in health care and infrastructure, attracted new investment and fostered innovation.
During his time in office, Prime Minister Harper oversaw historic trade negotiations to expand Canada’s commercial relationships including: the conclusion of the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement, the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, a modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, and Canada’s entrance into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Additionally, he served as an ally to developing economies, encouraging market liberalization in jurisdictions such as Colombia and Tanzania through bilateral investments, trading relationships and development assistance.
Prime Minister Harper implemented a clear and principled foreign policy. He oversaw Canada’s involvement in a series of complex conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, and stood staunchly by besieged allies Israel and Ukraine. Under his leadership, Canada was an unwavering supporter of the State of Israel’s right to exist, and Prime Minister Harper became the first Canadian Prime Minister to address the Knesset. Prime Minister Harper is a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin’s aggressive and expansionist foreign policy, particularly Russia’s invasion and ongoing occupation of parts of Ukraine. He openly expressed concern about the erosion of transparency in Russia, the consolidation of political power, and the suppression of dissidents. Prime Minister Harper led the global call for sanctions against Russia, and was a first-mover calling for Putin’s expulsion from the G-8. Prime Minister Harper’s government provided extensive technical and military aid to the Ukrainian government, including the deployment of Canadian Army trainers.
Prime Minister Harper oversaw a dramatic deepening of relations with India, and developed a strategic and balanced relationship with successive Chinese leaders while refusing to shy away from raising issues of human rights and trade imbalances. As the host leader of the 2010 G-20 summit in Toronto, and as an economist by training, Prime Minister Harper helped shape financial reform frameworks, implemented a sustainable approach to fiscal stimulus, and led the call for open markets and pragmatic, growth-oriented economic policy.
Prime Minister Harper also applied his pragmatic and results-oriented approach to international development challenges and building long-term geopolitical stability. He is known for his leadership in securing nearly $11 billion in new funding under the Muskoka Initiative to improve the health of mothers and children in the world’s most impoverished nations.
An ally of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other multilateral development institutions, Prime Minister Harper sought to amplify the scale and impact of Canada’s contributions to these institutions by involving the private sector in issue-specific campaigns whenever possible.
Prime Minister Harper’s government worked collaboratively with successive US Presidents to ensure the world’s most valuable bilateral trading and security relationship remained productive and effective. He undertook extensive work to deepen North American supply chain integration, ease regulatory burdens on small and medium-sized business and increase competitiveness and innovation. He oversaw unprecedented investments in post-secondary research, STEM programming and skills training curricula.
Prime Minister Harper resides in Calgary where he is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Harper & Associates, a global consulting firm. He and his wife Laureen have two children, Benjamin and Rachel.