Stephen Joseph Harper (born April 30, 1959) is a Canadian politician who served as the 22nd prime minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015. Harper is the first and only prime minister to come from the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada, serving as the party's first leader from 2004 to 2015. Harper studied economics, earning a bachelor's degree in 1985 and a master's degree in 1991. He was one of the founders of the Reform Party of Canada and was first elected in 1993 in Calgary West. He did not seek re-election in the 1997 federal election, instead joining and later leading 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 Official Opposition. In 2003, Harper negotiated the merger of the Canadian Alliance with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to form the Conservative Party of Canada and was elected as the party's first leader in March 2004. In the 2004 federal election, the new party lost its first election to the Liberal Party led by Paul Martin. From 2002 to 2015 as party leader, leader of the Official Opposition, and then prime minister, Harper represented the riding of Calgary Southwest in Alberta. He represented Calgary Heritage from 2015 until 2016. The 2006 federal election resulted in a minority government led by the Conservative Party with Harper becoming the 22nd prime minister of Canada. During his first term, Harper confronted the In and Out scandal, while major legislation passed under Harper's leadership included the Federal Accountability Act, the Québécois nation motion, and the Veterans' Bill of Rights. After the 2008 federal election, in which the Conservative Party won a larger minority, Harper passed the Economic Action Plan in response to the Great Recession, prorogued Parliament to defeat a non-confidence motion by a potential coalition of opposition parties, and ordered military intervention during the First Libyan Civil War. The 40th Canadian Parliament was eventually dissolved in March 2011, after another no-confidence vote that found his government to be in contempt of Parliament. In the federal election, the Conservatives won a majority government. During his third term, Harper withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, launched Operation Impact in opposition to ISIL, repealed the long-gun registry, passed the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, launched Canada's Global Markets Action Plan, and grappled with controversies surrounding the Canadian Senate expenses scandal and the Robocall scandal. In the 2015 federal election, the Conservative Party lost power to the Liberal Party led by Justin Trudeau. Harper officially stepped down as party leader on October 19, 2015, and Rona Ambrose was subsequently chosen as interim leader on November 5, 2015. After 2015, Harper slowly began to step away from Canadian politics and took on a number of international business and leadership roles, founding a global consulting firm, appearing in US and British media, and being elected leader of the International Democrat Union.
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