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Stephen Harper: Taking Reform nationwide

The Story

1991: The Reform Party of Canada is ready to graduate from a western protest party to a major player on the national stage. As party members gather in Saskatoon, policy director Stephen Harper tells the assembly they must set aside their fringe status and take the fight to Parliament Hill. "We are not here to fight Preston Manning," Harper tells the party's grassroots. "We are here to help Preston Manning. We are here to fight Brian Mulroney and Jean Chrétien and Audrey McLaughlin." For his part, Manning successfully proposes resolutions on immigration and multiculturalism. As we see in this clip, the resolutions both satisfy the party faithful and cultivate a more moderate political image.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 5, 1991
Guest(s): Elroy Harbourne, Stephen Harper, Diana Hu, Jack Hurst, Roy Lyall, Preston Manning
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Wendy Mesley
Duration: 2:33

Did You know?

• The Reform Party of Canada was founded in 1987 by Preston Manning, son of former Alberta premier Ernest Manning. The populist conservative party was centred in western Canada and opposed wasteful government spending. In 2000, Manning transformed the party into the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance; in 2003 the party merged with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

• Stephen Harper left a job working for Progressive Conservative MP Jim Hawkes to help found the Reform Party, acting as Preston Manning's chief policy officer. In 1991, the year of this clip, he earned an MA in economics from the University of Calgary and married Laureen Teskey, a graphic designer.

• In 1993 Harper became the Reform member of Parliament for Calgary West. He resigned that seat in 1997 to head up the National Citizens Coalition lobby group. In 2002 he succeeded Stockwell Day as the leader of the Canadian Alliance party (becoming leader of the Opposition), then resigned that post in 2004 to become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada. He lost the 2004 federal election to Paul Martin's Liberal minority, but won the 2006 election with a minority of his own. Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd prime minister on Feb. 6, 2006 and won a majority on May 2, 2011.


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