Stephen Harper's long road to lead a majority government

Stephen Harper won the chance to lead Canada's government on three occasions -- the last of which was an elusive majority government.

Conservative prime minister led three governments -- the last a majority

Stephen Harper, the day after his majority win

11 years ago
Duration 1:14
Then-prime minister Stephen Harper speaks with reporters the day after his Conservatives won a majority government in the 2011 election.

Winning a majority government proved elusive for Stephen Harper for a long time.

He led the Conservatives through four elections — first forming the Official Opposition in 2004, then forming two consecutive minority governments in 2006 and 2008. 

It wasn't until 2011 that Canadians rewarded Harper's party with a majority.

But even when that day finally came, it wasn't Harper who was breaking out the champagne.

Stephen Harper, shown here on Election Night in 2011, led his party through multiple elections before the Conservatives won a majority government at the polls. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

As he told reporters, his staff had to coax him to savour the moment with a taste of the bubbly.

"They passed me the champagne and wanted me to guzzle it out of the bottle," Harper said the morning after the 2011 election, as shown in the clip at the top of this page.

"As some of you may know, I'm not much of a drinker, but I did."

But there was a little bit more to the story.

"However, they tricked me, there was only like that much in it," Harper said, making a gesture to represent the tiny amount of liquid that had been in the bottle. "So much for my wild side." 

Then-prime minister Stephen Harper is seen celebrating with his family on Election Night in 2011. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

In 2015, Harper led his party through a fifth election, which saw the Conservatives defeated at the polls and returned to the opposition benches.

The Liberals, after falling to third-party status in the previous election, returned to power with a majority government of their own.

Ten months after his party's defeat at the polls, Harper resigned his seat in the House of Commons. 

With a 2011 report from the CBC's Terry Milewski