On October 10, 2015, British Columbia resident, Mary Cleaver posted a “letter” to Stephen Harper on Facebook. Harper has served as the first leader to the Conservative Party of Canada, also known as the Tories since 2004 and has also been serving as Prime Minister since 2006.
Stephen Harper was with the liberal party at first but defected to being a conservative due to a disagreement with Pierre Trudeau’s liberal government’s National Energy Program, which regulates mines and other environmental resources, including the oil industry. Following that, Harper became chief aide to Progressive Conservative Jim Hawkes in 1985. However, he soon also became disillusioned with Hawkes and left that party as well.
Following that, he was recommended to the Reform Party’s leader and founder, Preston Manning and he was accepted. After giving a speech at the founding convention in Winnipeg, he was made the Reform Party’s Chief Policy Officer. He is credited with creating the slogan, “The West wants in!”. He ran for the House of Commons in 1988 but after losing to Deborah Grey, he became her executive assistant and chief adviser until 1993.
In 1991, he gave a speech in which he lambasted extremist views and after an array of conflicts following that, he resigned as policy chief in October 1992. In 1993, he again ran for federal election and that time, successfully defeated Jim Hawkes. From there, he became almost immediately active in Canada’s Reform Party caucus with a goal of modernizing and decentralizing Canada. This was also when he began to become vocal in retaining conservative views such as opposing gay marriage and was against the idea of politics playing a role in defining marriage. He was also the only one of the Reform Party to vote for the Canadian Firearms Registry only to later change his mind at the third reading stage.
This swinging back and forth on many issues led to his relationship with the Reform Party being repeatedly strained until he finally resigned his seat in the parliamentary in 1997. He was simultaneously appointed as vice president, and later as President, of the National Citizens Coalition (NCC), which is a the conservative group that advocates for smaller governments and lower taxes. However, his time as President for NCC was largely unsuccessful due to things like losing a legal battle against the federal election laws, which limit third party advertising and delivering a majorly controversial speech about defining Canadian identity to the Council for National Policy.
After resigning his seat in the Parliamentary, Harper ran for Canadian Alliance Leadership and with the support of at least 28 Alliance members, won. While serving in Canadian Alliance, he was vocal about raising the age for sexual consent, being in favor of corporal punishment and being in favor of making Medicare more independent from the Reform Party. His leadership in the Alliance was soured by 2002 when he attacked Stockwell Day’s ways of governing as amateurish due to the fact that Day had high support from the religious right.
Shortly after his successful win against Days, Harper was declared Leader of Opposition after making it publicly clear that he despised Democrat Bill Phipps and refusing to debate him. In May 2002, he declared the Atlantics (or the Canadian Provinces located near the Atlantic Ocean) to be a culture of defeat and refused to apologize for it. The Legislature of Nova Scotia sided with the Atlantic politicians on their lambasting the comment as insensitive.
Finally, in 2004, Harper led the Conservative party to a federal election and was elected as its first leader. Under that, he voiced the same views that he did as the Reform Party leader. During his campaign for Prime Minister, Harper took advantage of the Liberal Party taking a vacation from media coverage in order to take the lead. He was elected after it was discovered that the Liberal Finance Minister, Ralph Goodale’s office illegally leaked inaccurate insider trading information. The popular opinion of Harper has decreased due to things such as insisting on proroguing the parliament twice on the notion that it was necessary for the economic plan.
The letter that British Columbian resident, Mary Cleaver posted on Facebook on October 10, 2015 is a reflection of the current popular opinion of Harper. She was walking with her two kids home from the park when inspiration struck her and she simply went for it. Cleaver claims that was originally intended for just her Facebook friends, then she was receiving heavy encouragement to share it more widespread. As a result, she went home, edited it and then put it on the Note outlet so that it could easily be shared. It has since gone viral.
The main reason for the letter going viral is likely that many Canadian residents feel that Cleaver spoke for many of them. Cleaver wrote that letter stating that even though she and her family personally can afford to benefit from Harper’s economic policies, that they had become disillusioned with them due to the fact that many can’t and because they feel that Harper is misjudging the changes that Canadian citizens want to see made and why, such as with the environment.
Harper is currently running for a second term as Prime Minister against Liberal Justin Trudeau. Trudeau, who happens to be the former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s son, is promising to lift restrictions on Canada’s policies of tougher environmental enforcement, the tax system and immigration-all of which Harper has explicitly expressed being against. Even though it is appearing that Trudeau is more likely win, whoever wins will probably not do so by the majority but rather by multiple leanings by other smaller parties. Canada’s House of Commons has almost 340 seats total and in order to win the majority, they would have to be able to fill almost 170 of them. The leader of the New Democratic Party, Thomas Mulcair has stated that his party won’t support Harper if Harper wins but will instead try to reach an agreement with Trudeau.