A New Party. A Proud Tradition.
On October 16th, 2003, the leaders of the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada announced an agreement-in-principle to unite under a new political banner. In December 2003, the merger was overwhelmingly ratified by members of both groups and the Conservative Party of Canada was officially born.
The unification of Canada’s conservative parties restored and rejuvenated the national political movement that has been building a stronger, safer, and better Canada for over 140 years. Conservative achievements include Confederation, women’s suffrage, the Canadian Bill of Rights, and the Free Trade Agreement.
Over the years, conservatives in Canada have fought elections under many different party banners, but the core principles of the movement have not changed: Canadian conservatives stand for sovereignty and a strong national defence; open federalism and national unity; free enterprise and individual achievement; and the opportunity for all Canadians, regardless of background, to achieve their dreams in a safe, healthy, and prosperous country. In short, we stand for a Canada that is strong, united, independent, and free.
The Return to Power
The new Conservative Party of Canada elected Stephen Harper as its first leader on March 20th, 2004. Just two months later, he led the party through its first national election campaign. Overcoming tremendous odds, the fledgling party and its new leader reduced the Liberal Party to minority status in the House of Commons, ending 11 years of Liberal majority rule.
On November 28th, 2005, Paul Martin’s Liberal government was defeated on a motion of non-confidence moved by Stephen Harper. Parliament was dissolved the next day, setting the stage for a general election. On January 23rd, 2006, Canadians voted for change and two weeks later, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet were sworn in as the new Government of Canada.
A Legacy of Achievement
Since taking office, the Harper Conservative Government has replaced the old Liberal culture of entitlement with a new culture of achievement. By the summer of 2008, the Conservative Government had become one of the longest-serving and most productive minority governments in Canadian history. Its many achievements include:
Strengthening Canada’s Sovereignty and Place in the World
By rebuilding our Canadian Forces and adopting a new, values-based foreign policy, the Government is protecting Canada’s sovereignty and advancing our national interests on the world stage. Guided by our foundational values – freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, Canada is now asserting our sovereignty in the Arctic, pursuing new international free trade agreements and strengthening our contributions to global security, most notably through the UN-NATO mission in Afghanistan, where the brave men and women of the Canadian Forces are leading efforts to restore security and rebuild infrastructure in violence-plagued Kandahar province.
Strengthening the Federation and our Democratic Institutions
The Conservative Government is working tirelessly to bring Canadians together as never before. By restoring fiscal balance, practising open federalism, reforming our parliamentary institutions, and passing the historic motion recognizing the Quebecois nation within a united Canada, Prime Minister Harper has strengthened national unity and neutralized the tired old debate between separatists and centralists that has been holding Canada back for more than forty years. The Conservative Government has further strengthened Canadian unity by acknowledging historic grievances like the Chinese Head Tax and the Indian Residential School System and seeking reconciliation with the victims of these sad chapters in Canadian history.
Providing Effective Economic Leadership for a Prosperous Future
The Conservative Government has also been working hard to make life more affordable for hard-working Canadians and their families. By balancing major tax cuts with disciplined debt reduction and focussed, prudent spending, the Government has been planning for long-term prosperity while carefully guiding the Canadian economy through a period of global economic turmoil. As taxes have come down, household disposable income has gone up, and hard-working Canadians have more money for saving through the Government’s new Tax-Free Savings Accounts, the single most important personal savings vehicle since the introduction of RRSPs.
Tackling Crime and Strengthening the Security of Canadians
Recognizing that Canadian families flourish in safe communities, the Conservative Government is improving the security of our borders and reforming the criminal justice system to ensure the rights of law-abiding citizens trump the rights of criminals. Canada now has mandatory prison sentences and tougher bail rules for offenders who commit crimes with guns; a higher age of protection to combat sexual predators; stronger measures against drunk or drug-impaired driving; and greater ability to keep the country’s most dangerous, violent, repeat offenders behind bars.
Improving the Environment and Health of Canadians
The Conservative Government is taking comprehensive action to improve the environment and protect the health of Canadians. Canada now has tough new regulations against toxic chemicals and one of the most aggressive plans on earth to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The new Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan will enhance the safety of food, health and consumer products, and the rules governing the labels “Made in Canada” and “Product of Canada” have been changed to ensure the labels mean what they say.
A Great Conservative Future
Today, the Conservative Party of Canada is a vibrant national organization with strong grassroots support from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Backed by the Party and its members, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Government is upholding the proud Canadian Conservative tradition that began 141 years ago and leading Canada on a Conservative path to a future of unlimited possibility.