A recent issue of The Economist marked Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s five-year anniversary in power by asking some very provoking questions for Canadian conservatives as well as the general public. In the article entitled, “The circumspect and circumscribed Conservative,” the question is put: “Stephen Harper has proved remarkably durable by curbing his instincts. Can he now remake his country?”
Here’s the crux of the analysis:
STARTING a conservative revolution in Canada was never going to be easy. It is a socially liberal place, proud of its welfare state and ruled for 79 of the past 115 years by the centre-left Liberal party. The first time Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party in a general election, in 2004, it finished a distant second to the Liberals, who saw themselves as Canada’s “natural governing party”. Two years later, with the Liberals crippled by a kickback scandal, the Conservatives did well enough for Mr Harper to form a minority government. An evangelical Christian and economic libertarian, he vowed to turn a would-be “second-tier socialistic country” into one that “the Liberals wouldn’t even recognise”.
Five years on, Mr Harper has pulled off two surprises. The biggest is that he is still prime minister, despite failing to win a majority in a subsequent election in 2008, making his the longest-serving minority government in Canada’s history. The second follows in part from the first: Canada remains a country that the Liberals can recognise perfectly well, with big government and social liberalism largely intact. “He emerged from the movement. He was going to be our Ronald Reagan,” says Gerry Nicholls, a former colleague of Mr Harper’s. “But he’s become what he’s always opposed. If he destroys the Liberal party by becoming it, what’s the point?”
Read the full article here: