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Lec 11 - Harper.docx

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Political Science

Lecture 11 - Harper  open to different interpretations - there are limitations for anyone to know and assess the Conservative foreign policy record since it is ongoing o very important transition from 13 years of Chretien-Martin Liberal leadership to Conservative leadership  Stephen Harper - PM from February 6, 2006 to present o defeated incumbent prime minister Paul Martin - significant since incumbent prime ministers rarely lose elections, other big successful prime ministers always resign  2004-2006 minority government under Martin, in 2006 there were two different minority mandates under Conservatives o mandates have gotten stronger with every successive election that Conservatives have fought, 124 seats in 2006 to 143 in 2008, 166 seat majority in 2011 o power within House of Commons has been strengthened the longer that they have been in power  have to split up Harper foreign policy between 2006-2011 (minority governments) and 2011- (majority government) o as minority government Conservatives were in precarious position since they need the confidence of the House, so they need at least some of the opposition members to vote in favour  Conservatives are the only right of centre political party in the House - Liberals, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green Party are all further left, have more common with each other o government had to move to the centre to win some support from opposition parties to not lose power o PM no longer has to worry about this because he has a majority  Conservatives are a new party - not the same Progressive Conservative party of Mulroney or Diefenbaker, not the same in composition and ideology as previous iterations of federal Conservative parties have been - now Conservative Party of Canada (CPC rather than PC) o a new party because it came about as a result of merger of old Progressive Conservatives with Canadian Alliance Party (previously reform party)  in 1993, Mulroney coalition imploded, PC were decimated in the election, happened because they kept a certain core vote, didn't win many seats but still had a fairly strong share of the vote o PC Mulroney vote was divided between residual PCs and two splinter parties which had broken off from the Mulroney coalition  the Reform Party (which broke off on the premise of better representing Western Canada)  Bloc Quebecois (federal separatist party)  new Conservative party reunites two elements of the Progressive Conservative Party - reunites Western Canada with rural Ontario; o NB: not a complete reunion of Mulroney coalition since it is still missing Quebec  Stephen Harper is so far the only leader of the CPC o before Harper became PM argued quite compellingly that Liberal success under Chretien and Martin in winning significant majorities was only a function of division of vote on the right of the spectrum of Canadian politics - knew that in order to defeat the Liberals he had to reunite the right  new party and coalition is a radical departure from traditional electoral coalition that is represented in the party in power in Ottawa o Quebec is outside of this coalition both ideologically and electorally - 5 Conservative MPs, majority of Quebec is represented by the NDP  continuation of patterns since 1993 of government in power not having significant base of electoral support in the province of Quebec - what makes it more important is it is the first time since 1968 that the PM has not been from Quebec or represented a riding in Quebec  even though Liberals were also electorally weak in Quebec, both Chretien and Martin represented Quebec ridings, not the case with the Conservative government - Quebec is further outside of the bounds of decision-making in Ottawa than it ever has been in Canadian history  the West is in, centre of gravity has shifted from St. Lawrence valley to Alberta, it is Alberta which electorally centre of gravity of Conservatives, also significant support across the country, PM self-identifies as an Albertan - this is the direction of Canadian governance  born in 1959 - first Baby Boomer PM, generational shift to post war generation of PMs  originally a young Liberal, Trudeau's national energy program turned him off of Liberal Party as an institution and made him antagonistic to federal government more broadly  Harper was an experience parliamentarian, served 8 years as MP, wasn't new to Parliament o had no experience in government or in Cabinet - not entirely inexperienced but without some high level experience of policy choices o early on there were a lot of comparisons between Harper and Clark - both young Albertan Conservatives, no experience in government or Cabinet, leading fragile minority governments, had little international experience, only two elected PMs not representing Quebec  comparison is not as common now since Harper was successful whereas Clark was not in maintaining his government  Harper is on track to being one of the most successful Conservative PMs of the last 100 years, tied with Mulroney; if he wins another mandate then Harper will be without a doubt the most successful PM since John A. MacDonald - big political legacy  he was both econ
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