Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is the center-right result of a recent (early 2004) merger of the Candian Alliance and Progressive Conservative parties. Fullowing the latest federal election (June 2004), the CPC is the official opposition to the governing populistic Liberal Party of Canada.
The original 19th-century Conservative Party in Canada became the 20th-century Progressive Conservative Party of Canada though a merger with the Progressives. At both the federal and provincial level, it became known for a political phenomenon known as Red Toryism, a combination of social liberalism and fiscal conservatism, that some incorrectly describe as uniquely Canadian (it is a very common phenomenon e.g. in Europe). The party was known as "the PCs" or "the Tories" in every province of Canada, and it held power often.
After the Liberal dynasty of Pierre Trudeau (of "Trudeau debt" fame), the Progressive Conservative governments of Joe Clark (who briefly held a minority together in 1979) and Brian Mulroney (famous for NAFTA and a close relationship with Ronald Reagan) held power. Clark remained in the Mulroney cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and later Constitutional Affairs, and the federal party had strong allegiances to the provincial parties up until 1993. In the federal election of that year, led by neophyte Kim Campbell, the PCs were literally wiped out to just two seats, from previously holding two hundred. Campbell resigned and was replaced by Jean Charest - he and Elsie Wayne being the only two PCs to have retained their seats.
The Liberals regained power and have held on to it until today. In part they were able to do so because of three factors:
- a First Past the Post electoral system punishing all smaller parties and rewaring regionalism:
- the rise of the Bloc Quebecois, a regional Quebec separatist party founded by the provincial Parti Quebecois and formerly allied to Mulroney's Conservatives
- the Reform Party of Canada based mostly in British Columbia and Alberta led by charismatic conservative Preston Manning
Chretien convinced Charest that he was needed in provincial politics in Quebec to lead the only alternative to the separatist Parti Quebecois, that being the Quebec Liberal Party. This had support from federal Progressive Conservatives who had not joined the Bloc, and from federal Liberals who had rejected the separatist option. Former PM Joe Clark was convinced to return to lead the PCs, and under his watch the PCs retained their official party status, but were unable to advance the party back to national status - it retained most of its base in Atlantic Canada as a more or less regional party.
Meanwhile, in British Columbia, the BC Liberal Party was formed as an alliance of federal Progressive Conservatives, Alliance/Reform, and Liberals to counter the ruling BC NDP, rising Green Party of BC and other smaller parties.
In both Quebec and BC, the provincial Liberals were in effect only right of center alternative.
Federally, from 1993 to 2003 the center-right was "split" between Clark's Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and Manning's Reform Party of Canada, the latter party later became the Canadian Alliance under Stephen Harper, the currect leader of the CPC.
After the retirement of Clark and the election of Peter MacKay as leader of the PCs, the two parties successful merged into the Conservative Party of Canada (in early 2004).
Following the merger, some former PCs, including Joe Clark and recent leadership candidates Scott Brison, and David Orchard, declared neutrality, attempted to keep the PC party alive, and/or shifted to the Liberal Party of Canada. However, after the initial debate and departures, CPC has now established itself as the center-right party in Canada, and was also able to run a reasonably successful federal campaign, earning 99 seats in the parliament.
On January 23, 2006 the Conservatives won 124 seats, compared to 103 for the Liberal Party of Canada. On February 6, the Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, along with his Cabinet. 
Also see Conservative Party of Canada