Canada Elects a New Prime Minister

Stephen Harper, of the Conservative Party, won the election for Canada’s prime minister on Monday (Jan.23). His top priorities include reducing taxes, expanding and strengthening Canada’s military and cracking down on crime and security, according to the Washington Post.

Despite kudos from President Bush on his victory, Harper maintained that he will keep relations with the United States to a minimum. “I was very clear about this in the election campaign: The United States defends its sovereignty. The Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper, according to 940news.com.

For the past 13 years Canada has been under Liberal Party rule, however all that will change once Harper is sworn into office on Feb. 6.

“Our first priority will be to make (government) more transparent and more accountable to the taxpayers of Canada,” said Harper, according to Bloomberg.com. “I have no doubt that we will find broad consensus to move that forward.”

According to canadaonline.com, Harper pledged to eliminate the party’s $2.3 million debt, to get fundraising organized, and to develop his communication skills. “I don’t think my fundamental beliefs have changed in a decade,” he said. “But certainly my views on individual issues have evolved, and I deal with the situation as I find it.”

In a press conference yesterday (Jan. 26) in Ottawa, Harper said he would tackle issues such as same-sex marriage and Senator Elections “soon, but not immediately.”

Harper also supports direct democracy, decentralization and small provincial rights, small government, changing the Canada Health Act to allow the provinces to experiment with private health care delivery, and keeping moral and religious issues, such as abortion, separate from party politics.

As one of the founding members of the Reform Party, Harper became leader of the Canadian Alliance and then was able to merge the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003. On Jan. 12, 2004 Harper resigned from Leader of the Opposition and decided to run for leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

“My strengths are not a spin or passion, you know that,” said the 46-year-old economist. “I believe it’s better to light one candle than to promise a million light bulbs.”