Stephen Harper

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Stephen Harper is the current Prime Minister of Canada.

He was previously the leader of the Canadian Alliance and before that a member of the Reform Party of Canada and President of the National Citizens' Coalition, all considered "right of centre" by Canadian standards.

However, by US standards Harper would be considered actually further to the left on many domestic issues than any Democrat who holds a federal post other than Dennis Kucinich: he advocates continuation of single-payer universal health care, for instance, though he would permit private for-profit service providers (as would all US Democrats and Greens advocating similar health care in the USA). Some of his views derive more from the libertarian ideology he claims to hold personally, notably, he is not dead-set against marijuana decriminalization and seems to view this issue largely in terms of US-Canada relations.

On foreign affairs outside North America, however, Harper is, by left wing observers, considered to be a true neo-conservative. His views are sometimes compared to those of his colleague David Frum who tried unsuccessfully in the 1990s to "unite the right" and merge the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada with the Canadian Alliance, which Harper achieved in 2004.

The Canadian federal election, 2004 is often perceived as a battle between Harper and sitting Liberal Party of Canada Prime Minister Paul Martin. Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party of Canada won a seat in the House of Commons in the electoral district of Toronto-Danforth, and his party will likely play a role in the upcoming minority government. Harper had explicitly ruled out such a deal with Layton or the Bloc Quebecois, a regional Quebec separatist party, however in a statement released in the summer of 2004 following the election, all party leaders agreed to seek consensus on issues important to Canadians.

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