By Jonathan Isaby
Harper has been Prime Minister, leading a minority government, since 2006, having increased the Conservative Party's number of seats at a general election in 2008 to 143, twelve short of an overall majority.
This election was triggered after a vote of no confidence (passed by 156 votes to 145) after the Government was found to be in contempt of Parliament because it failed to disclose the full costs of anti-crime programmes, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase stealth fighter jets from the USA.
This does not appear to have had any impact on public opinion, though (as we have recently noted here and here); the Conservatives were in the low thirties for virtually all of 2010, but have been in the high thirties since the beginning of this year. During that time the gap has been widening between the Conservatives and the leading opposition Liberal Party, led by Michael Ignatieff. See here for all the latest polling data.
Harper summarises his key priorities in his platform, Here for Canada, thus:
We will provide the steady hand needed to keep protecting and creating jobs and to complete our recovery from the global recession. We will eliminate the deficit and return to balanced budgets, without cutting transfer payments to individuals or to the provinces. And we will take the next steps to secure our borders and keep our cities and communities safe. We will focus on five priorities:
- create jobs, through training, trade, and low taxes;
- support families, through our Family Tax Cut, and more support for seniors and caregivers;
- eliminate the deficit by 2014-15, by controlling spending and cutting waste;
- make our streets safe, through new laws to protect children and the elderly; and
- stand on guard for Canada, by cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces.
Click here to download the whole document as a pdf, whilst below is a video of his rally launching the platform. Note that since part of Canada is French-speaking, he switches between the languages throughout the event, even having copies of the platform in both languages to use as props at the relevant points!
> In January we looked back on Harper's first five years in office