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In Canada, political conservatism is generally considered to be primarily represented by the Conservative Party of Canada at the federal level of governance, and by the various right-leaning parties at the provincial levels. Organised conservatism in Canada dates back to the creation of the Liberal-Conservative Party of Canada in 1854, prior to Confederation.

After the dissapearance of the Social Credit Party, The Progressive Conservatives dominated conservative politics at the federal and in most provinces. Joe Clark became Prime Minister with a minority government in 1979, but lost to a non-confidence vote after only nine months, and the Liberals again took power. After Pierre Trudeau's retirement in 1984, his successor, John Turner, called a federal election, which was won in a landslide by the PCs under Brian Mulroney. Mulroney succeeded by uniting conservatives from western Canada with those from Quebec. During his tenure, the government attempted to negotiate the status of Quebec through the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. The government's willingness to affirm Quebec a distinct society was seen as a betrayal by many westerners, and the Reform Party of Canada was founded on a strongly social conservative and fiscal conservative platform as an alternative voice for them. Following Mulroney's resignation in 1993 and Kim Campbell's brief tenure, the Conservatives were reduced to only two seats in Parliament. Much former PC support went to the Reform Party under Preston Manning, which became the official opposition for most of the nineties, and to the Bloc Quebecois.

The Bloc's primary goal was the secession of Quebec from Confederation. It took socially liberal positions on most other issues, but nonetheless had both conservative and liberal supporters, who voted primarily on grounds of Separatism. Support for both the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives has been negligible in Quebec ever since, and as a result there has been no actively conservative federal political party of any power in the province since then.

In the west, the Reform Party took most of the PC Party's former seats, but held much more socially or economically conservative views than the old party on most subjects (regarding, for example, homosexuality, religion in public life, gun control, and government intervention in the economy).

The PCs retained moderate support in the Atlantic Provinces, eventually managing to regain a few seats. They also retained scattered support across the country. The result was that neither new party managed to approach the success of the Progressive Conservatives prior to 1993. In many ridings the conservative vote was split, letting other parties win: the Liberal Party under Jean Chretien won three successive majority governments starting in 1993. During this period, either the Bloc Quebecois or the Reform Party were the Official Opposition.

After the 1997 election some members of the Reform Party tried to end the vote splitting by merging the two parties. A new Party was formed, called the Canadian Alliance Party, and Stockwell Day was elected its leader. However, many PCs resisted the move, suspecting that Reform Party ideology would dominate the new party, and the new Party garnered only a little more support than its predecessor. Meanwhile the PCs re-elected Joe Clark as their leader and attempted to regain lost ground.

Day's tenure was marked by a number of public gaffes and apparent publicity stunts, and he was widely portrayed as incompetent and ignorant. Several MPs left his party in 2002.

Originally, Canadian conservatism tended to be loyalist and traditionalist. Conservative governments in Canada, such as those of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir Robert Borden, Richard Bennett, and John Diefenbaker were known for the creation of government-operated businesses (early Crown Corporations such as the Canadian National Railway) to develop and protect Canadian industries, protectionist programs such as the National Policy, and even social benefits such as pensions and the beginnings of Universal Health Care. Canadian conservatism thus mirrored British Toryism in its values and economic/political outlook. Canadian conservatives have generally favoured the continuation of old political institutions, government intervention in the economy when necessary, and strong ties to the monarchy. Unlike U.S. conservatism, evangelical protestantism and economic libertarianism have had an extremely low and limited influence on Conservative politics in Canada.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, with the rise of Conservative politicians in Canada such as Ralph Klein, Don Getty, Brian Mulroney, Preston Manning, Mike Harris and others, the objectives and values of Conservatives in Canada began to mimic those of neo-liberals in both the United States and United Kingdom. With the rise in inflation and a large budgetary deficit in Canada, emphasis was put on "shrinking the size of government" (in part, through privatization), pursuing continentalist trade arrangements (free trade, creating tax incentives and cutting "government waste".

During the government of Brian Mulroney (1984-1993), government spending on social programs was cut, taxes for individuals and businesses were reduced, government intervention in the economy was severly reduced, a free trade agreement was drafted with the United States and later with Mexico, and Crown Corporations such as Petro Canada and Air Canada (some created by previous Conservative governments) were sold to both domestic and foreign private buyers (privatized).

The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada lost a large base of its support toward the end of the Mulroney era as problems such as unemployment and the deficit grew to dangerous levels. Brian Mulroney's failed attempt to reform the Canadian Constitution with the Charlottetown Accord, and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax only increased public anger. In the 1993, Canadian federal election, the PC Party was reduced to only 2 seats out of 301 in the Canadian House of Commons. The Liberal Party of Canada was elected with a strong majority and the "U.S. style" neo-conservative and conservative Reform Party of Canada gradually replaced the Tories as the major rightwing party in Canada.

Throughout the 1990s, most neo-conservatives in the PC Party began to drift slowly to the Reform Party, and than in droves to its successor, the Canadian Alliance, leaving the PC Party under the control of the traditionally more popular Red Tory faction. Despite taking more popular approaches on social issues and in regards to social programs that were in line with Canadian public opinion, the Tories, while holding onto a significant amount of the vote, were never able to greatly increase their representation in the House of Commons due to the First Past the Post electoral system that Canada uses. Instead, the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance dominated the opposition benches.

In 2003, when former Prime Minister Joe Clark retired after being brought back to improve the PC party's standings, Peter MacKay was chosen in a leadership contest to replace him. MacKay immediately created controversy within the party by entering into negotiations with Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper to merge the two parties. MacKay had been elected on a third ballot of the party's leadership convention as a result of an agreement that he signed with another leadership contestant, David Orchard, in which he promised never to merge the PC Party with the Alliance.

Later on that year, the Progressive Conservative Party, which dated back to 1854 (though existing under many different names), ceased to exist. 96% of the Alliance's membership and 92% of the PC Party's riding representatives approved the merger. The Conservative Party of Canada was then created, and, in 2004, Stephen Harper was easily elected leader. Under Stephen Harper, the platform of the Conservative Party has mirrored that of the Canadian Alliance more so than the Progressive Conservatives, emphasizing tax cuts, cuts to government spending, privatization and social conservatism, such as opposition to same-sex marriage. Many of these positions have proved unpopular, such as issues such as the Kyoto Protocol, flat taxes, and recall referendums.

Federal
[edit]
Represented in Parliament
Conservative Party of Canada
Minor Parties:

Progressive Canadian Party
Christian Heritage Party
Freedom Party of Canada

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadia...vative_parties