Stephen Joseph Harper PC MP (born April 30, 1959) is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election. He is the first prime minister from the newly reconstituted Conservative Party, following a merger of the Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties.
Harper has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of Calgary Southwest in Alberta since 2002. Earlier, from 1993 to 1997, he was the MP for Calgary West. He was one of the founding members of the Reform Party, but did not seek re-election, and instead joined, and shortly thereafter led, the National Citizens Coalition. In 2002, he succeeded Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance (the successor to the Reform Party) and returned to parliament as Leader of the Opposition. In 2003, he reached an agreement with Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay for the merger of their two parties to form the Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected as the party's first non-interim leader in March 2004.
Harper's Conservative Party won a stronger minority in the October 2008 federal election, showing a small increase in the percentage of the popular vote and increased representation in the Canadian House of Commons, with 143 of 308 seats. The 40th Canadian Parliament was dissolved in March 2011, after a no-confidence vote that found the Cabinet in contempt of parliament was passed by the opposition parties.