Conservative Party of Canada
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Alternative meaning: Conservative Party of Canada (pre-1942)
Conservative Party of Canada
Active Federal Party
Founded December 7, 2003
Incorporated CA and PC
Leader Stephen Harper
President Don Plett
Headquarters Suite 1720
130 Albert Street
Political ideology Conservatism
International alignment International Democrat Union
The Conservative Party of Canada (French: Parti conservateur du Canada),
colloquially known as the "Tories", is a right-of-centre political party in Canada, formed
by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of
Canada in December 2003. Through the Progressive Conservatives, it is a direct
descendent of the pre-Confederation Liberal-Conservative Party. The party formed the
Government of Canada in 2006, and its current leader is the Right Honourable Stephen
• 1 Background
• 2 Principles and policies
• 3 Controversy surrounding the merger
• 4 Leadership election
• 5 General election of 2004
• 6 Founding convention in Montreal: March 2005
• 7 Defection of Belinda Stronach
• 8 2006 federal election
• 9 Party leaders
• 10 Election results (2004-2006)
• 11 Provincial parties
• 12 External links
On October 15, 2003, Stephen Harper (then the leader of the Canadian Alliance) and
Peter Mackay (then the leader of the Progressive Conservatives) announced the
Conservative Party Agreement-in-Principle, thereby merging their parties to create the
new Conservative Party of Canada. On December 5, the Agreement-in-Principle was
ratified by the membership of the Alliance by a margin of 96% to 4% in a national
referendum conducted by postal ballot. On December 6 the PC Party held a series of
regional conventions, at which delegates ratified the Agreement-in-Principle by a margin
of 90% to 10%. On December 7, 2003, the new party was officially registered with
Elections Canada. On March 20, 2004, Stephen Harper was elected leader.
The merger was the culmination of the Canadian "Unite the Right" movement, driven by
the desire to present an effective right-wing opposition to the Liberal Party of Canada, to
create a new party that would draw support from all parts of Canada and would not split
the right-wing vote. The splitting of the right-wing vote contributed to Liberal victories in
the 1993 federal election, 1997 federal election and the 2000 election.
The new Conservative Party is an amalgam of two contrasting views about conservatism
in Canada. Historically, the Progressive Conservatives touted traditional Red Tory ideals,
rejecting free trade and closer ties with the United States and attempted to model Canada
after centuries-old British institutions. Western Canadian conservatism was more inspired
by U.S.-based conservatism, and has espoused closer ties with the United States, the Blue
Tory conservatism, privatization, smaller government, reform and overhaul of political
institution after the American/Australia model and - just as Brian Mulroney espoused -
decentralized federalism, a limited government in Ottawa with stronger provinces. It
generally supports a market economy approach to the economic sphere.
Since most of the MPs for the new party as well as the grassroots supporters come from
the prairie provinces, its policy has significant influence from Reform Party of Canada
philosophy, even though the party has shed much of Reform's social conservative image,
and is more focused on economic, military, law and order and democratic reform/ethics
in government issues. Unlike the old Progressive Conservatives, it more reflects a strong
Blue Tory ideology. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is known as an avid fiscal
conservative and a strong supporter for a strong military within the context of a joint
command for the Canadian Armed Forces co-operating and co-planning with the U.S.
under the umbrella of a central command, modelled after NORAD. He has embraced
some social conservative positions, such as opposition to to same-sex marriage.
Altough less than three years old, the Conservative Party is political heir to a series of
conservative parties that have existed in Canada, beginning with Liberal-Conservative
Party founded in 1854 by Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier which
became the Conservative Party in the 1880s. Like them (and the Conservative Party of
the United Kingdom) it carries the nickname "Tory", and its members are known as
"Tories". It also legal heir to the older parties by virtue of assuming the assets and
liabilities of the former Progressive Conservative Party. Peter MacKay and many other
high-profile former PCs, including the former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister
Brian Mulroney see the CPC as a natural evolution of the conservative political
movement in Canada. MacKay has suggested that the CPC is a reflection of the
reunification of conservative ideologies under a "big tent." MacKay has often said that
fractures have been a natural part of the Canadian conservative movement's history since
the 1890s and that the merger was really a reconstitution of a movement that has existed
since the Union of Upper and Lower Canada.
The merger symbolizes the latest chapter in the evolution of conservatism in Canada, as
the historical Conservative Party, which was founded by United Empire Loyalists, was
vehemently opposed to free trade and further integration with the United States, aiming
instead to model Canadian political institutions after British ones. It moved under Brian
Mulroney at the helm to market economy and a landmark historic free-trade deal with
America and now espouses pro-American views, aspires to emulate American capitalism,
smaller government involvement in the economy and more grassroots-oriented
Jeffersonian democratic reform.
The party is considered by some to be Canada's version of the United States' Republican
Party and the United Kingdom's Conservative Party due to their conservative positions.
In reality, differences exist on various policies and the parties are only aligned through
mutual membership in the international group of conservative parties, the International
Principles and policies
Being right-of-centre on the political spectrum both fiscally and socially, the CPC
generally favours lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of powers to
the provinces modelled after the Meech Lake Accord, a tougher stand on "law and order"
issues and more spending on the military, and harmonizing standards and regulation with
the United States. It is also opposed to the legalization of cannabis and has announced
plans to revisit the issue of same-sex marriage by having another vote on the issue in the
House, which they say will be a free vote. As a successor of the western-based Canadian
Alliance, it also supports reform of the Senate to make it "elected, equal, and effective"
(the "Triple-E Senate"), as well as several other substantial reforms to reduce the present
power of the Prime Minister's Office, such as establishing fixed election dates every four
years and giving individual MPs more leeway in representing their constituents. In
addition, in the wake of the sponsorship scandal and the resulting high-profile Gomery
Inquiry the CPC has advocated government accountability and transparency reforms.
During the 2006 election, the party also campaigned on :
• Cutting the Goods and Services Tax from 7% to 6% immediately after election
and to 5% later on
• Tax incentives for people to learn skilled trades (such as welding and baking) and
for businesses to hire new apprentices.
• Promote privatization of Crown corporations.
• Amend the Constitution to add "ownership of private property" to the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms.
• Support of and some reforms in the "traditional industries" including agriculture,
fishing, mining and forestry
• Making participation at the Wheat Board voluntary rather than mandatory.
• In light of a Quebec judge ruling of October 2004, that the CRTC's ban of
viewing of U.S.-based channels contravenes the Charter of Rights - limiting the
CRTC mandate and giving individual choice to subscribe to foreign and U.S.-
based channels, more individual freedom.
• Mandatory minimum prison sentences for various serious crimes, including drug
trafficking, weapons-related and violent offences, as well as ending the practice of
house arrest in some cases.
• Dismantling the gun registry program, using the surplus to hire more police, to
facilitate a crackdown on organized crime including white collar crime.
• Creation of a mandatory DNA databank for sex offenders; raising the age of
consent from 14 to 16 years; tougher stance on child pornography
• Strengthening of border with armed border guards, port and airport security while
at the same time, co-operating more closely on security issues with the U.S.
• Giving every parent $100 per month for each child under the age of 6, as part of
the national child care program
• Adding pension income-tax deductions for seniors
• Reducing waiting times in hospitals
• Investing in transportation infrastructure and introducing tax credits for monthly
• Defending the local industries against foreign trade challenges, including the
softwood lumber dispute with the United States
• Better relations with the United States
• Giving small businesses tax incentives, and ending subsidies for big business.
• Fixing the "fiscal imbalance" between Ottawa and the provinces; shifting major
taxing and decision-making powers to the provinces, with the co-operation of
Jean Charest, the Liberal, federalist premier of Quebec.
• An ethics and accountability bill to limit the ability of the political parties to raise
money from the rich, and levelling the playing field for all parties equally, making
it more grassroots. That omnibus bill would also create an independent budgetary
• Democratic reform - Triple E Senate, fixed election dates, freer votes in the
House. Shifting more powers from the PMO to cabinet and individual MPs.
Controversy surrounding the merger
The merger process was controversial. David Orchard had a written agreement from
Peter MacKay at the 2003 Progressive Conservative Leadership convention excluding
any such merger and led an unsuccessful legal challenge to it. Orchard (under the PC
party leadership election rules) is still owed at least $70,000 by the newly merged
Conservative Party. This debt has been recognized as legitimate by the Conservative
Party lawyers; however, its reimbursement is on hold pending the outcome of legal
matters between the party and Orchard.
At the time of the merger four sitting Progressive Conservative Members of Parliament
— André Bachand, John Herron, former Tory leadership candidate Scott Brison, and
former Prime Minister Joe Clark — decided not to join the new Conservative Party
caucus as did retiring PC Party President Bruck Easton. Brison crossed the floor to the
Liberals. Soon afterward, he was made a parliamentary secretary in Paul Martin's
government, and became a full cabinet minister after the 2004 federal election. Herron
also ran as a Liberal candidate in the election but did not join the Liberal caucus prior to
the election, and he lost his seat to the new Conservative Party's candidate Rob Moore.
Bachand and Clark both left Parliament at the end of the session.
Wikinews has News related to this article:
Conservative Canadian government sworn in
One former Alliance MP, former CA leadership candidate Keith Martin, also left the
party on January 14. He ran as a Liberal in the election and retained his seat for the
Liberals. in the 38th Parliament (2004-2005), Martin served as parliamentary secretary to
Bill Graham, Canada's minister of defence. He was reelected a second time as a Liberal
in the 2006 general election.
Additionally, three senators, the late William Doody, Norman Atkins, and Lowell
Murray, declined to join the new party and continue to sit in the upper house as a rump
caucus of Progressive Conservatives. The Martin Liberals exacerbated the Tory split in
the Senate by appointing in February 2005, provincial Progressive Conservatives Nancy
Ruth and Elaine McCoy as senators and additional members of the rump PC Senate
caucus. In the early months of the CPC's existence two Conservative MPs also became
publicly disgruntled with the leadership, policy, and procedures of the new party. Former
Progressive Conservative MP Rick Borotsik became openly critical of the new party's
leadership during its initial months of existence and officially retired from politics at the
end of the parliamentary session of spring 2004.
Former Canadian Alliance MP Chuck Cadman rejected the new party's riding nomination
procedures in March after losing his local riding's CPC nomination to an outside
challenger. His membership in the Conservative party was revoked in late May. Cadman
ran as an independent candidate in the federal election of June 2004. He was re-elected as
the only independent in the new parliament but died of cancer in July 2005.
Additionally, after the 2004 federal election, Tory Senator Jean-Claude Rivest left the
CPC to sit as an independent member of Senate, citing his concerns that the new party
was too right-wing and insensitive to Quebec needs and interests.
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, 22nd Prime Minister of Canada
Stephen Harper was chosen as leader of the new party on March 20, 2004, defeating
former Ontario provincial Tory Cabinet minister Tony Clement and former Magna
International CEO Belinda Stronach on the first ballot.
Some Conservative activists had hoped to recruit former Ontario Premier Mike Harris for
the leadership but he declined, as did New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and Alberta
Premier Ralph Klein. Outgoing Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay also
announced he would not seek the leadership of the new party as did former Democratic
Representative Caucus leader and Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) Chuck
Strahl. Jim Prentice, who had been a candidate in the 2003 PC leadership contest, entered
the new party's leadership race in mid-December but dropped out in mid-January due to
an inability to raise funds so soon after his first leadership bid.
General election of 2004
Two months after Harper's election as national Tory leader, Liberal Party of Canada
leader and Prime Minister Paul Martin called a general election for June 28, 2004.
However, in the interim between the formation of the new party and the selection of its
new leader, factional infighting and investigations into the Sponsorship Scandal reduced
the popularity of the governing Liberal Party. This allowed the Conservatives to be more
prepared for the race, unlike the 2000 federal election where few predicted the early
October election call. For the first time since the 1993 federal election, a Liberal
government would have to deal with a united conservative front.
The Conservatives did better than expected during the election campaign with polls
showing a rise in support for the new Conservative Party, leading some pollsters to
predict the election of a minority Conservative government. But even at the peak of its
popularity, the new party still had less support than its two predecessor parties combined
had in the last election. Off the cuff comments from social conservative elements in the
new CPC also hindered Harper's efforts at portraying the new party as a reasonable,
responsible and moderate alternative to the governing Liberals.
Several particularly notable controversial comments were made by CPC MPs during the
campaign. Early on in the campaign, Ontario MP Scott Reid indicated his feelings as
Tory language critic that the policy of official bilingualism was unrealistic and needed to
be reformed. Alberta MP Rob Merrifield suggested as Tory health critic that women
ought to have mandatory family counseling before they choose to have an abortion. BC
MP Randy White indicated his willingness near the end of the campaign to use the
notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to override the Charter of Rights on
the issue of same-sex marriage, and Cheryl Gallant, another Ontario MP, compared
abortion to terrorism.
Harper's new Conservatives emerged from the election with a larger parliamentary
caucus of 99 MPs while the Liberals were reduced to a minority government of 135 MPs,
requiring the Liberals to obtain support from at least twenty-three opposition MPs in
order to guarantee the passage of legislation. The CPC's popular vote, however, was
actually lower than the combined Alliance and PC popular vote in the previous federal
Founding convention in Montreal: March 2005
Some political analysts such as former Progressive Conservative pollster Allan Gregg
and Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert suggested that the next election could result
in a Conservative government if the public were to perceive that the Tories as having
emerged from the party's founding convention (then scheduled for March 2005) with
clearly defined, moderate policies with which to challenge the Liberals.
The convention provided the public with an opportunity to see the Conservative Party in
a new light, after having shed its controversial social conservative agenda, although
retaining its populist appeal by espousing tax cuts, smaller government, a grassroots-
oriented democratic reform, more decentralization by giving the provinces more taxing
powers and leeway in decision making, and limiting Ottawa's intervention in everyday
lives, venturing less into individual freedom of choice. The party's law and order package
was a long overdue effort to crack down on the rising crime rates.
Defection of Belinda Stronach
On May 17, 2005, MP Belinda Stronach, surprised many when she crossed the floor from
the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Party. Some believed Stronach's departure
would damage the Conservative Party's chances to attract socially liberal voters,
particularly in Ontario. Others have raised suspicions about the timing and opportunism
of Stronach's decision, noting that she became a cabinet minister immediately after
crossing the floor, and that the departure came mere days before a crucial non-confidence
vote in the house. In addition, numerous Conservatives, such as Ontario Tory MPP Bob
Runciman made vitriolic public statements in reaction to this development — such as
calling Stronach "a dipstick" — which were decried by some as sexist and proof that the
Party's moderate image was misleading, though others believed the comments were more
a reaction to the nature of her defection, having nothing whatsoever to do with her
In late August and early September 2005, the Tories released ads through Ontario's major
television broadcasters that highlighted their policies towards health care, education and
child support. The ads each featured Stephen Harper discussing policy with prominent
members of his Shadow Cabinet. Many analysts suggested at the time that the Tories
would use similar ads in the 2006 federal election, instead of focusing their attacks on
allegations of corruption in the Liberal government as they did in spring 2005.
An Ipsos-Reid Poll conducted after the fallout from the first report of the Gomery
Commission showed the Tories practically tied for public support with the ruling Liberal
Party , and a poll from the Strategic Counsel suggested that the Conservatives were
actually in the lead.  However, polling two days later showed the Liberals had
regained an 8-point lead .
2006 federal election
On November 24, 2005, Opposition leader Stephen Harper introduced a motion of no
confidence which was passed on November 28, 2005. With the confirmed backing of the
other two opposition parties, this resulted in an election on January 23, 2006, following a
campaign spanning the Christmas season.
The Conservatives started off the first month of the campaign by making a policy-per-day
announcement, which included a GST reduction and a child-care allowance. This strategy
was a surprise to most in the media, as they believed the party would focus on the
sponsorship scandal; instead the Conservative strategy was to let that issue ruminate with
voters. The Liberals opted to hold their major announcements after the Christmas
holidays; as a result, Harper dominated media coverage for the first weeks of the
campaign and was able "to define himself, rather than to let the Liberals define him". The
Conservatives' announcements played to Harper's strengths as a policy wonk, as
opposed to in the 2004 election and summer 2005 where he tried to overcome the
perception that he was cool and aloof. Though his party showed only modest movement
in the polls, Harper's personal numbers, which had always trailed his party's significantly,
began to rise relatively rapidly.
On December 27, 2005, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced it was
investigating Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office for potentially engaging in
insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income
trusts. The relevation of the criminal investigation and Goodale's refusal to step aside
dominated news coverage for the following week, and it gained further attention when
the U.S. SEC announced they would also launch a probe. The income trust scandal
prevented the Liberals from making their key policy announcements and it allowed the
Conservatives to refocus on their previous attacks on corruption within the Liberal party.
The Tories were leading in the polls by early January, and made a major breakthrough in
Quebec where they displaced the Liberals for second-place.
In response to the growing Conservative lead, the Liberals launched negative ads
suggesting that Harper had a "hidden agenda", similar to the attacks made in the 2004
election. The Liberal ads did not have the same effect this time as the Conservatives had
much more momentum, at one stage held a ten-point lead. Harper's personal numbers
continued to rise and polls found he was considered not only more trustworthy, but he
would also make a better Prime Minister than Martin. Besides the Conservatives being
much more disciplined, media coverage of the Conservatives was also much more
positive than in 2004. By contrast, the Liberals found themselves increasingly criticized
for running a poor campaign and making numerous gaffes.
On January 23, the Conservatives won 124 seats as against 103 for the Liberals. On
February 6, Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada along
with his cabinet.
Further information: Canadian federal election, 2006
• Senator John Lynch-Staunton (December 8, 2003 – March 20, 2004) (interim)
• Stephen Harper (March 20, 2004 – present)
See also: Cabinet of Canada and Prime Minister of Canada
Election results (2004-2006)
# of candidates # of seats # of total % of
nominated won votes popular vote
2004 308 99 3,994,682 29.6% Lib. minority
2006 308 124 5,374,071 36.3%
The Conservative Party, while officially having no provincial wings, works both formally
and informally with the executives of several provincial conservative parties.
The federal Conservatives have the support of many provincial Tory members. Several
Tory premiers, such as Ralph Klein of Alberta, Pat Binns of Prince Edward Island,
Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, John Hamm of Nova Scotia and
Bernard Lord of New Brunswick have expressed general support for the new party. In
Ontario, provincial PC Party leader John Tory and former interim provincial opposition
leader Bob Runciman have also expressed open support for Stephen Harper and the
Conservative Party of Canada, as has Stuart Murray, opposition and Tory leader in
While officially separate, federal Conservative Party documents, such as membership
applications, can be picked up from most provincial Progressive Conservative Party
offices. Several of the provincial parties also contain open links to the federal
Conservative website on their respective websites.
CPC leader Stephen Harper has attended multiple provincial PC party conventions as a
keynote speaker and he has encouraged all federal party members to purchase
memberships in their provincial conservative counterparts.
Provincial party Alignment Province
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario Ontario
wing, PC Party
Alberta Progressive Conservatives Alberta
wing, PC Party
Progressive Conservative Party of Former provincial
Manitoba wing, PC Party
Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Former provincial
Scotia wing, PC Party
Progressive Conservative Party of New Former provincial
Brunswick wing, PC Party
Progressive Conservative Party of Former provincial Newfoundland and
Newfoundland and Labrador wing, PC Party Labrador
Prince Edward Island Progressive Former provincial
Conservative Party wing, PC Party
The Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ) and Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) have no
relation to any federal party, although the Liberals are led by former federal Tory leader
Jean Charest. Since becoming Liberal leader, Charest has brought many former
supporters of the Mulroney Tories into leadership positions in the PLQ. He has come out
and supported the federal Tories during the 2006 Canadian election, and many of the
PLQ members have helped campaign for the Tories.
The ADQ, in turn, is the most conservative of the three provincial parties in Quebec. On
January 12, 2006 ADQ leader Mario Dumont said he will be voting Conservative during
this election. 
The Saskatchewan Party was an unofficial merger of the members of the Progressive
Conservative Party of Saskatchewan and members of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party and
now contains supporters of the federal Conservatives and federal Liberals in its ranks.
The provincial Liberals still run candidates. After the collapse of the Progressive
Conservatives following the scandal-plagued government of Grant Devine in the 1980s,
the Progressive Conservatives have officially withdrawn from politics, although they
retain a nominal organization and run paper candidates to maintain the party's treasury.
The Saskatchewan Party is officially neutral when it comes to federal politics though its
first leader Elwin Hermanson had direct ties to the Reform Party and Canadian Alliance.
The British Columbia Liberal Party was once a provincial wing of the federal Liberal
Party of Canada, but under Gordon Campbell has moved to the right and now contains
supporters of the federal Conservatives and federal Liberals in its ranks. The BC Liberal
Party is officially neutral when it comes to federal politics.
The British Columbia Conservative Party still exists and runs candidates, but currently
has no elected representatives. A number of prominent federal Conservatives are
involved in the BC Conservative Party. Former Reform BC Leader Wilf Hanni is its
current Leader. In the past, the Progressive Conservatives have also maintained close
relations with the British Columbia Social Credit Party.
The Yukon Party (formerly the "Yukon Progressive Conservative Party") changed its
name and cut off all ties to the federal Progressive Conservatives during the Mulroney
years. Its current leader, Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie, a former New Democrat who
crossed the floor to become leader of the Yukon Party, has continued to remain relatively
ambiguous in regard to whom the territorial party supports federally.
Some of the above parties may affiliate or endorse the new federal Conservative Party or
its regional candidates. Relations have been strained, however, between the Conservative
Party and Ralph Klein, the Progressive Conservative Premier of Alberta over the latter's
public musings on health care during the federal election and his call for a referendum on
same-sex marriage. The Alberta Alliance a provincial party based on the former
Canadian Alliance, also holds representation in the legislature, many federal
Conservatives in Alberta support this party instead of the Progressive Conservatives.
There have been calls to change the names of the provincial parties from "Progressive
Conservative" to "Conservative".