Stephen Joseph Harper, PC MP (born April 30, 1959) is a Canadian politician who is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and the Leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister in 2006, forming a minority government after the 2006 election. He is the first prime minister to come from the newly reconstituted Conservative Party, which formed after a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.
Harper has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Calgary Southwest in Alberta since 2002. Earlier, from 1993 to 1997, he was the MP for Calgary West. He was one of the founding members of the Reform Party, but did not seek re-election in the 1997 federal election. Harper instead joined and later led the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative lobbyist group. In 2002, he succeeded Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance (the successor to the Reform Party) and returned to Parliament as Leader of the Opposition. In 2003, he reached an agreement with Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay for the merger of their two parties to form the Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected as the party’s first non-interim leader in March 2004.
Harper’s Conservative Party won a stronger minority in the October 2008 federal election, showing a small increase in the percentage of the popular vote and increased representation in the Canadian House of Commons, with 143 of 308 seats. The 40th Canadian Parliament was dissolved in March 2011, after a no-confidence vote that deemed the Cabinet to be in contempt of parliament.
In the May 2011 federal election, Harper’s Conservative Party won a majority government, the first since the 2000 federal election. His party won 166 seats, an increase of 23 seats from the October 2008 election.