Stephen Harper became the leader of Canada
's official opposition
, the Canadian Alliance
(later the Conservative Party of Canada
), upon election on March 20, 2002
. He took over the leadership from Stockwell Day
Harper was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1959, and went through his public education in the Ontario cities of Leaside and Etobicoke. At age 18, he moved to Alberta, and got his Bachelors and Masters in Economics at the University of Calgary, where he later taught. He has a wife, Laureen, and two children.
Stephen Harper used to form policy within the Reform Party of Canada. Of particular interest to Canadians is his stance on co-operation with the Progressive Conservative Party, and he has affirmed that he is interested in a coalition of the parties if the Conservatives could commit to a single slate of candidates to contest the current Liberal government.
In the 1980s, Harper served as a parliamentary assistant for the Progressive Conservative Party, and then became a founding member of the Reform Party, serving as the first policy chief, and writing a large part of the 1988 party platform.
He was a Reform Party Member of Parliament for Calgary West from 1993 to 1997, then left to work with the right-wing advocacy group, the National Citizens' Coalition, and was Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament for Calgary Southwest from May 13, 2002 to date, and was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition on May 21, 2002.
Earlier on in his career, due to a small public presence, Stephen Harper was dubbed the "Invisible Man."
Harper believes in national unity, direct democracy, power transfered from the national level to the provincial, free trade, the privatisation of health care, and keeping religion and issues such as abortion out of the realm of politics.