Jim Flaherty

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Posted by pompos 04/17/2009 @ 12:07

Tags : jim flaherty, cabinet, politics, canada, world

News headlines
Credit card fee reform in US won't affect Canada: bank association - CBC.ca
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said last week that regulations for the credit card industry will probably be tabled by the end of this month. While he won't say what changes he has in mind, Flaherty has complained credit card rates remain...
Canada finance minister to make Thurs announcement - Forbes
OTTAWA, May 20 (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will make an announcement at a Toronto news conference on Thursday morning, his office said on Wednesday. He has promised to unveil regulations this month to improve transparency in the...
GM pensioners ask Flaherty for answers - Newsdurhamregion.com
By Melissa Mancini WHITBY -- The future for Canada is rosy, said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, but General Motors pensioners wanted the minister to tell them how the future looked for their pensions. About 100 seniors showed up to hear the minister...
Canada's Flaherty to meet CFOs on Monday - Reuters
OTTAWA, May 8 (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday he will meet a group of corporate chief financial officers on Monday to discuss whether there are any gaps in financing as the country seeks to emerge from recession....
New credit-card rules welcome in hard times - The Gazette (Montreal)
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's promise to regulate card-issuer practices more closely will resonate well with many Canadians and should move ahead briskly. Meanwhile, there should be no rush to let the credit-card companies into the debit-card market....
'Rapid implementation' of stimulus needed for recovery: Flaherty - Calgary Herald
WASHINGTON -- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Saturday trading nations risk stalling the revival of the global economy by dragging their heels on launching financial stimulus plans. Flaherty, speaking on a conference call following Saturday morning...
Canadians pay too much for credit cards, says PEI MP - CBC.ca
For example, said Murphy, if a retailer buys $100 worth of goods, the wholesaler loses about $2.50 to the banks and the credit card companies. In other countries, that fee is only 50 cents. Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said new legislation...
Flaherty sees more job losses, denies leak - Reuters Canada
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Tuesday he expects more job losses in coming months, after an unexpected employment gain in April. "We're looking at a general trend in the economy during the recession where we are...
Chrysler May Not Repay Canadian Aid, Flaherty Says - Bloomberg
By Greg Quinn May 5 (Bloomberg) -- Chrysler LLC, the US carmaker that filed for bankruptcy protection last week, may not repay C$3.8 billion ($3.2 billion) in aid from Canadian governments, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said....
GM and union miss due date - Newsdurhamregion.com
Liquidation remains a possibility if an agreement cannot be reached, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Tuesday, during an event for seniors in Whitby. "That's why everyone's working very hard at the two tables where they're meeting in the...

Jim Flaherty

Flaherty stands behind Irish President Mary McAleese

James Michael "Jim" Flaherty, PC, MP (born December 30, 1949 in Lachine, Quebec) is Canada's Minister of Finance; he had formerly served as Ontario's Minister of Finance.

From 1995 until 2005 he was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby—Ajax, representing the Progressive Conservative Party. He was previously a cabinet minister in the government of Mike Harris, and has unsuccessfully sought the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives on two occasions.

Flaherty won the riding of Whitby—Oshawa in the federal election held January 23, 2006 as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada narrowly beating Liberal incumbent Judi Longfield. He was re-elected in 2008. Flaherty's wife Christine Elliott is currently representing Whitby-Oshawa in the Ontario Legislature.

Flaherty attended Loyola High School in N.D.G., Montreal. Flaherty holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University, as well as a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He practised law before entering political life, and became a senior partner at the firm Flaherty Dow Elliott, a firm specializing in motor vehicle accident and personal injury litigation.

He is the father of three boys, who are triplets.

He first ran for the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1990, finishing third against New Democrat Drummond White and Liberal Allan Furlong in the riding of Durham Centre. He ran again in the 1995 election.

He was named Minister of Labour in the Cabinet of Premier Mike Harris on October 10, 1997, and kept this position until after the 1999 election. He also served as interim Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services from April 27 to July 27, 1998, when Minister Bob Runciman temporarily resigned from active duty after revealing privileged information in the legislature.

Flaherty was re-elected in the 1999 election in the redistributed riding of Whitby--Ajax, and was named Attorney General with responsibility for Native Affairs on June 17, 1999. On February 8, 2001, he was appointed Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. It was during this period that Flaherty became identified as one of the most right-wing figures in the Harris administration. He was a key promoter of tax credits for parents sending their children to private and denominational schools, which the Tories had campaigned against in 1999. Minister of Education Janet Ecker did not support this policy change, and there are reports that she considered leaving cabinet after its announcement.

Flaherty's leadership campaign focused on "law and order" right-wing themes, and one of his proposals was to make homelessness illegal. Flaherty's plan was to have special constables encourage homeless persons to seek out shelters or hospitals. He argued that his policy would save the lives of homeless persons; leadership rival Elizabeth Witmer and other critics described it as callous, and ineffective against the root causes of homelessness.

Flaherty also promised to implement further tax cuts, carry through with plans to create a tax credit for parents sending their children to private school, and privatizing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Flaherty also emerged as a radical social conservative in this campaign, distinguished by his vocal stance against abortion, and his association with pro-life groups.

On April 15, 2002, Eves demoted him to the less-prominent position of Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation. He retained this position until the Tories were defeated in the provincial election of 2003. Flaherty himself was barely re-elected, by a sharply reduced margin.

Following the defeat of the Conservatives, Eves announced that he would resign as leader in 2004. Flaherty declared himself a candidate to succeed him, but was defeated by John Tory by a margin of 54% to 46% on the second ballot of the PC leadership election held on September 18, 2004. His supporters included former right-wing cabinet ministers John Baird, Tim Hudak and Norm Sterling.

Flaherty's 2004 leadership campaign was similar to that of 2002. He again emphasized right-wing themes, including further tax cuts and greater privatization. He also promised to create EXCEL scholarships, wherein students attaining high grades in high school would have half their university tuition paid by the government.

Until 2005, Flaherty served as finance critic in John Tory's shadow cabinet.

On February 4, 2006, the Toronto Star reported that Flaherty still owed as much as $64,000 to the PC Party of Ontario from his 2004 leadership campaign.

On June 13, 2005, the Canadian news website bourque.org reported that a meeting of prominent Conservative organizers and fundraisers had been held to plan for a Flaherty bid for the leadership of the federal party should Stephen Harper be forced to resign due to ongoing party scandals.

In December 2005, the 2006 general election was called. Flaherty resigned his seat in the Ontario legislature to run for the Conservative Party of Canada in the riding of Whitby—Oshawa, narrowly unseating incumbent Judi Longfield.

Flaherty's wife, Christine Elliott, won Flaherty's former provincial seat in a by-election, defeating Longfield who was running as the provincial Liberal candidate. This marked the first time in Canadian history that a husband and wife have simultaneously represented the same electoral district at two different levels of government.

On February 6, 2006, Flaherty became Minister of Finance in Stephen Harper's newly elected Conservative cabinet.

Flaherty has become a central figure in the debate surrounding the new proposed rules for taxation of Canadian income trusts. The Finance Minister's October 31, 2006 announcement to changes in rules to tax Income Trusts levelled the playing field between forms of business such that businesses operating as income trusts no longer enjoyed a tax advantage over businesses operating as corporations. The announcement was accompanied by a further planned reduction in the corporate rate so that the two moves together were not expected to generate additional revenue for the government.

There had been an increasing number of corporations converting to income trusts which would result in them paying lowered taxes; Flaherty argued that income trusts would cost the government hundreds of millions in lost revenue and shift the burden onto ordinary people. The Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors have argued that foreign takeovers of Canadian Income trusts have had the opposite effect and caused decrease in Federal Government tax revenues.

Diane Francis, editor-at-large for the National Post, urged that the rule changes be recanted, arguing that there were flaws in the policy which hurt ordinary, hard-working Canadian investors. Francis pointed out that the root of the problem is that the decision was based on analysis by federal officials who regard RRSPs and pensions as tax "exempts" even though they are merely deferral mechanisms. So the tax leakage analysis numbers incorrect when it comes to taxes paid by Canadian income trust unitholders.

The Canadian Press voted the Harper Government and Jim Flaherty 'Business Newsmaker of 2006' for the surprise announcement to tax Income Trusts on October 31, 2006.

On February 28, 2007 the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance released their report Taxing Income Trusts: Reconcilable or Irreconcilable differences? recommending a reduction of the proposed tax to 10% from 31.5%.

In a July 9, 2007 interview on Business News Network, former Conservative Alberta Premier Ralph Klein criticized PM Stephen Harper and Jim Flaherty for their mishandling of the Income Trust issue and for not keeping their word on Income Trust taxation. The only thing a politician has is his word.] According to the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors the change in tax rules cost investors $35 billion dollars in market value. Stephen Harper specifically promised "not to raid Senior's nest eggs" during the 2006 Federal Election.

On August 21, 2008 Brent Fullard, President of the Canadian Association of Income Trust Investors challenged Flaherty to debate supposed tax leakage associated with income trusts. Fullard was responding to a comment attributed to a Flaherty spokesperson in April, 2008, as quoted in the Hill Times: "I don't think Jim's losing any sleep over it. As a matter of fact, I'm sure of it. I'm sure he'd love to go a couple of rounds with these CAITI guys in a debate situation." Fullard announced he would put up $50,000, payable to his favorite charity. Given the Minister's "current crusade on financial literacy," Fullard believed a suitable charitable cause would be a scholarship for business education. "By doing this we could help repair the damage caused by the Minister's statement that Ontario is the last place to invest." Flaherty has turned down the request. "The tax fairness plan is law. The Minister made his position clear before the finance committee and there is no need for further debate," according to his press spokesperson.

Flaherty responded to a report from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that suggested that cities had an infrastructure deficit of $123 billion and the federal government should step up with some cash with the suggestion cities should stop “whining” and repair their own crumbling infrastructure.

Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier claims Flaherty sidestepped responsibility for billions in infrastructure dollars being sought, when Flaherty advised municipalities to “do their job” because the feds are “not in the pothole business.” “Let’s get on with the job and stop complaining about it and do their job,” Flaherty continued, noting the Building Canada fund will inject $33 billion into cities to help deal with the infrastructure crunch. However Bronconnier said the plan is merely a “repackaging” of a number of pre-existing funding arrangements. The Building Canada Fund has been strongly criticized for being designed to fail, due to excessive red tape, which has delayed much of the funding from being awarded.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion went further by issuing a challenge to Flaherty to publicly debate the need for permanent federal funding for the repair and upkeep of municipal roads and bridges. McCallion said “Flaherty has stated in the media that some of the municipalities have not kept up with infrastructure and did not establish adequate reserves. Well, I can tell him that he is dead wrong. The facts are that Mississauga has carefully set aside reserves for infrastructure for years.” McCallion noted that cities are trying to maintain 58 per cent of public infrastructure with eight cents of every tax dollar. Flaherty did not accept Hazel McCallion's offer to debate.

Despite Treasury Board rules requiring a bidding process for contracts of $25,000 or more, Flaherty admitted his office broke government contracting rules in hiring Hugh MacPhie to help write the 2007 budget speech and provide advice on how to sell the document. MacPhie, who had written speeches for former Ontario Tory premier Mike Harris, was awarded the $122,000 contract without tender by Flaherty's office. On February 7, 2008 Liberal Finance Critic John McCallum formally called on Auditor General Sheila Fraser to conduct an audit into the untendered contract awarded by Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty to speechwriter Hugh MacPhie for work done in advance of the 2007 Budget.

The Toronto Star determined that several people who supported Flaherty when he was an Ontario cabinet minister or who supported his two failed bids to lead the Ontario Tories were awarded employment contracts or given appointments. The employment contracts awarded were under the $25,000 Treasury Board contract bidding limit. Bronwen Evans received a $24,877.50 contract to write speeches for Flaherty from June 2006 until last February. David Curtain, who worked on Flaherty's Ontario leadership campaign, received $24,877.50 to write the finance minister's first budget speech. Curtain was also paid $3,350 to write a keynote address earlier in 2008 for Flaherty. Lawyer James Love, who donated $63,000 to Flaherty over two leadership campaigns, was appointed to the Royal Canadian Mint. Another Flaherty donor, Carol Hansell, was appointed to the board of directors of the Bank of Canada in October 2006. Toronto family law lawyer Sara Beth Mintz, an Ontario Progressive Conservative Party vice-president, received $24,900 for budget "analysis, assessment and advice." MacPhie also got another contract for $24,645 for work done on Advantage Canada, a long-term, national economic plan. Opposition parties say they are suspicious that contracts are coming in just under $25,000 in order to give business to Flaherty's friends and supporters.

On May 13, 2008 Flaherty appeared before the Public Accounts committee, facing questions about multiple sole-sourced contracts worth more than $300,000 that were given by the government. The finance minister says he was unaware his former chief of staff broke government rules in handing a well-connected Tory an untendered contract to write the 2007 budget speech.

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Conservative Party of Canada

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, 22nd Prime Minister of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada (French: Parti conservateur du Canada), colloquially known as the Tories, is a political party in Canada, formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the PC Party. The party is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum. The party currently forms the Government of Canada, and is led by the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.

The Conservative Party is political heir to a series of conservative parties that have existed in Canada, beginning with the Liberal-Conservative Party founded in 1854 by Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. The party later became known simply as the Conservative Party after 1873. Like its historical predecessors and conservative parties in some other commonwealth nations (such as the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom), members of the present-day Conservative Party of Canada are sometimes referred to as "Tories". The modern Conservative Party of Canada is also legal heir to the heritage of the historical conservative parties by virtue of assuming the assets and liabilities of the former Progressive Conservative Party upon the merger of 2003.

The first incarnations of the Conservative Party in Canada were quite different from the Conservative Party of today, especially on economic issues. The early Conservatives were known to espouse economic protectionism and British imperialism, by emphasizing Canada's ties to the United Kingdom while vigorously opposing free trade with the United States; free trade being a policy which, at the time, had strong support from the ranks of the Liberal Party of Canada. The Conservatives also sparred with the Liberal Party due to its connections with French Canadian nationalists including Henri Bourassa who wanted Canada to distance itself from Britain, and demanded that Canada recognize that it had two nations, English Canada and French Canada, connected together through a common history. The Conservatives would go on with a popular slogan "one nation, one flag, one leader" and supported policies such as the assimilation of French Canadians, aboriginals, and immigrants.

The Conservative Party's popular support waned (particularly in western Canada) during difficult economic times from the 1920s to 1940s, as it was seen by many in the west as an eastern establishment party which ignored the needs of the citizens of Western Canada. Westerners of multiple political convictions including small-"c" conservatives saw the party as being uninterested in the economically-unstable Prairie regions of the west at the time and instead holding close ties with the business elite of Ontario and Quebec. As a result of western alienation both the dominant Conservative and Liberal parties were challenged in the west by the rise of a number of protest parties including the Progressive Party of Canada, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), and the Social Credit Party of Canada. The Progressives once outpaced the Conservatives, and, in 1920, became Official Opposition, though soon after, the Progressive Party folded. Former Progressive leader John Bracken became leader of the Conservative Party in 1942 subject to several conditions, one of which was that the party be renamed the Progressive Conservative Party. Meanwhile, many former supporters of the Progressive Party shifted their support to either the federal CCF or to the federal Liberals. The advancement of the provincially-popular western-based conservative Social Credit Party in federal politics was stalled, in part by the strategic selection of leaders from the west by the Progressive Conservative Party. Conservative leaders such as John Diefenbaker and Joe Clark were seen by many westerners as viable challengers to the Liberals who traditionally had relied on the electorate in Quebec and Ontario for their power base. While none of the various protest parties ever succeeded in gaining significant power federally, was damaging to the Conservative Party throughout its history, and allowed the federal Liberals to win election after election with strong urban support bases in Ontario and Quebec. This historical tendency earned the Liberals the unofficial title often given by some political pundits of being Canada's "natural governing party". Prior to 1984, Canada was seen as having a dominant-party system led by the Liberal Party while Conservative governments therefore were considered by many of these pundits as caretaker governments, doomed to fall once the collective mood of the electorate shifted and the federal Liberal Party eventually came back to power.

In 1984, the Progressive Conservative Party's electoral fortunes made a massive upturn under its new leader, Brian Mulroney, an anglophone Quebecker and former president of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, who mustered a large coalition of westerners aggravated over the National Energy Program of the Liberal government and Quebeckers who were angered over Quebec not having distinct status in the Constitution of Canada signed in 1982. This led to a huge landslide victory for the Progressive Conservative Party. Progressive Conservatives abandoned protectionism which the party had held strongly to in the past and which had aggravated westerners and businesses and fully espoused free trade with the United States and integrating Canada into a globalized economy. This was accomplished with the signing of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of 1989 and much of the key implementation process of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which added Mexico to the Canada-U.S. free trade zone.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, federal conservative politics became split by the creation of a new western-based protest party, the populist and social conservative Reform Party of Canada created by Preston Manning, son of Alberta Social Credit Premier Ernest Manning. The party was very controversial in Canadian politics. It advocated deep decentralization of government power, abolishment of official bilingualism and multiculturalism, democratization of the Canadian Senate, opposed abortion, opposed extending rights to homosexuals and suggested a potential return to capital punishment, and advocated significant privatization of public services. Despite controversial aspects of Reform, Westerners felt betrayed by the federal Conservative Party, seeing it as catering to Quebec and urban Ontario interests over theirs. In 1989, Reform made headlines in the political scene when its first MP, Deborah Grey, was elected in a by-election in Alberta, which was a shock to the PCs which had almost complete electoral dominance over the province for years. Another defining event for western conservatives was when Mulroney accepted the results of an unofficial Senate "election" held in Alberta, which resulted in the appointment of a Reformer, Stanley Waters, to the Senate.

By the 1990s, Mulroney had failed to bring about Senate reform as he had promised (appointing a number of unelected Senators in 1990). As well, social conservatives were dissatisfied with Mulroney's social progressivism. Canadians in general were furious with high unemployment, high debt and deficit, unpopular implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in 1991, and the failed constitutional reforms of the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords. In 1993, support for the Progressive Conservative Party collapsed, and the party's representation in the House of Commons dropped from an absolute majority of seats to only two seats. The 1993 results were the worst electoral disaster in Canadian history, and the Progressive Conservatives never fully recovered.

In 1993, federal politics became divided regionally. The Liberal Party took Ontario, the Maritimes and the territories, the separatist Bloc Québécois took Quebec, while the Reform Party took Western Canada and became the dominant conservative party in Canada. The problem of the split on the right was accentuated by Canada's single member plurality electoral system, which resulted in numerous seats being won by the Liberal Party, even when the total number of votes cast for P.C. and Reform Party candidates was substantially in excess of the total number of votes cast for the Liberal candidate.

With the right-wing vote split, the Liberal Party won three successive majority governments which led the Reform Party and elements of the Progressive Conservative Party to advocate "uniting the right" which was completed in 2003, when the Canadian Alliance (formerly the Reform Party) and Progressive Conservative parties agreed to merge into the present-day Conservative Party, with the Alliance faction conceding its populist ideals and some social conservative elements.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and many other high-profile former Progressive Conservatives, including the former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney see the Conservative Party today as a natural evolution of the conservative political movement in Canada. MacKay has suggested that the Conservative Party is a reflection of the reunification of conservative ideologies under a "big tent." MacKay has often said that fractures have been a natural part of the Canadian conservative movement's history since the 1890s and that the merger was a reconstitution of a movement that has existed since the Union of Upper and Lower Canada.

On October 15, 2003, after closed-door meetings were held by the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative Party, Stephen Harper (then the leader of the Canadian Alliance) and Peter MacKay (then the leader of the Progressive Conservatives) announced the "'Conservative Party Agreement-in-Principle", thereby merging their parties to create the new Conservative Party of Canada. After several months of talks between two teams of "emissaries", consisting of Don Mazankowski, Bill Davis and Loyola Hearn on behalf of the PCs and Ray Speaker Senator Gerry St. Germain and Scott Reid on behalf of the Alliance, the deal came to be.

On December 5, the Agreement-in-Principle was ratified by the membership of the Alliance by a margin of 96% to 4% in a national referendum conducted by postal ballot. On December 6 the PC Party held a series of regional conventions, at which delegates ratified the Agreement-in-Principle by a margin of 90% to 10%. On December 7, 2003, the new party was officially registered with Elections Canada. On March 20, 2004, Stephen Harper was elected leader.

The merger was the culmination of the Canadian "Unite the Right" movement, driven by the desire to present an effective right-wing opposition to the Liberal Party of Canada, to create a new party that would draw support from all parts of Canada and would not split the right-wing vote. The splitting of the right-wing vote contributed to Liberal victories in the 1993 federal election, 1997 federal election and the 2000 election.

The merger process was controversial. David Orchard had a written agreement from Peter MacKay at the 2003 Progressive Conservative Leadership convention excluding any such merger and led an unsuccessful legal challenge to it. Orchard (under the Progressive Conservative party leadership election rules) is still owed at least $70,000 by the newly merged Conservative Party. This debt has been recognized as legitimate by the Conservative Party lawyers; however, its reimbursement is on hold pending the outcome of legal matters between the party and Orchard.

At the time of the merger four sitting Progressive Conservative Members of Parliament — André Bachand, John Herron, former Tory leadership candidate Scott Brison, and former Prime Minister Joe Clark — decided not to join the new Conservative Party caucus, as did retiring PC Party president Bruck Easton. Clark and Brison argued that the party's merger with the Canadian Alliance drove it too far to the right, and away from its historical position in Canadian politics. Brison, at first, voted for and supported the ratification of the Alliance-Tory merger, then crossed the floor to the Liberals . Soon afterward, he was made a parliamentary secretary in Paul Martin's Liberal government, and became a full cabinet minister after the 2004 federal election. Herron also ran as a Liberal candidate in the election, but did not join the Liberal caucus prior to the election. He lost his seat to the new Conservative Party's candidate Rob Moore. Bachand and Clark both retired from Parliament at the end of the session.

One former Alliance MP, former Alliance leadership candidate Keith Martin, also left the party on January 14. He retained his seat in the 2004 election, running under the Liberal banner. In the 38th Parliament (2004-2005), Martin served as parliamentary secretary to Bill Graham, Canada's minister of defence. He was reelected a second time in the 2006 general election.

Additionally, three senators, the late William Doody, Norman Atkins, and Lowell Murray, declined to join the new party and continue to sit in the upper house as a rump caucus of Progressive Conservatives. The Martin Liberals exacerbated the Tory split in the Senate by appointing, in February 2005, provincial Progressive Conservatives Nancy Ruth and Elaine McCoy as senators and additional members of the rump PC Senate caucus. Ms. Ruth, however, later did join the new Conservative party in March 2006.

In the early months of the Conservatives' existence two Conservative MPs also became publicly disgruntled with the leadership, policy, and procedures of the new party. Former Progressive Conservative MP Rick Borotsik became openly critical of the new party's leadership during its initial months of existence and officially retired from politics at the end of the parliamentary session of spring 2004.

Former Canadian Alliance MP Chuck Cadman rejected the new party's riding nomination procedures in March after losing his local riding's Conservative nomination to an outside challenger. His membership in the Conservative party was revoked in late May. Cadman ran as an independent candidate in the federal election of June 2004. He was re-elected as the only independent in the new parliament but died of cancer in July 2005.

Additionally, after the 2004 federal election, Tory Senator Jean-Claude Rivest left the Conservatives to sit as an independent member of the Senate, citing his concerns that the new party was too right-wing and insensitive to Quebec needs and interests.

With 17,296 votes and 56.23% party support, Stephen Harper was chosen as leader of the new party in the March 20, 2004 leadership election, defeating former Ontario provincial PC Cabinet minister Tony Clement (2,887 votes, 9.4%) and former Magna International CEO Belinda Stronach (10,613 votes, 34.54%) on the first ballot.

Some Conservative activists had hoped to recruit former Ontario Premier Mike Harris for the leadership but he declined, as did New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Outgoing Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay also announced he would not seek the leadership of the new party as did former Democratic Representative Caucus leader and Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament (MP) Chuck Strahl. Jim Prentice, who had been a candidate in the 2003 PC leadership contest, entered the Conservative leadership race in mid-December but dropped out in mid-January due to an inability to raise funds so soon after his earlier leadership bid.

Two months after Harper's election as national Tory leader, Liberal Party of Canada leader and Prime Minister Paul Martin called a general election for June 28, 2004. However, in the interim between the formation of the new party and the selection of its new leader, factional infighting and investigations into the Sponsorship Scandal significantly reduced the popularity of the governing Liberal Party. This allowed the Conservatives to be more prepared for the race, unlike the 2000 federal election when few predicted the early election call. For the first time since the 1993 federal election, a Liberal government would have to deal with a united conservative front. The Liberals attempted to counter this with an early election call, as this would give the Conservatives less time to consolidate their merger.

During the first half of the campaign, polls showed a rise in support for the new party, leading some pollsters to predict the election of a minority Conservative government. An unpopular provincial budget by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty hurt the federal Liberals' numbers in Ontario, as did a weak performance from Martin in the leaders' debates. The Liberals managed to narrow the gap and eventually regain momentum by targeting the Conservatives' credibility and motives, hurting their efforts to present a reasonable, responsible and moderate alternative to the governing Liberals.

Several controversial comments were made by Conservative MPs during the campaign. Early on in the campaign, Ontario MP Scott Reid indicated his feelings as Tory language critic that the policy of official bilingualism was unrealistic and needed to be reformed. Alberta MP Rob Merrifield suggested as Tory health critic that women ought to have mandatory family counseling before they choose to have an abortion. BC MP Randy White indicated his willingness near the end of the campaign to use the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian Constitution to override the Charter of Rights on the issue of same-sex marriage, and Cheryl Gallant, another Ontario MP, compared abortion to terrorism. The party was also criticized for issuing press releases accusing both Paul Martin and Jack Layton of supporting child pornography, although both releases were recalled within a few hours.

Harper's new Conservatives emerged from the election with a larger parliamentary caucus of 99 MPs while the Liberals were reduced to a minority government of 135 MPs, requiring the Liberals to obtain support from at least twenty-three opposition MPs in order to guarantee the passage of Liberal government legislation. The Conservatives' popular vote, however, was actually lower than the combined Alliance and PC popular vote in the 2000 federal election.

In 2005, some political analysts such as former Progressive Conservative pollster Allan Gregg and Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hébert suggested that the then-subsequent election could result in a Conservative government if the public were to perceive the Tories as emerging from the party's founding convention (then scheduled for March 2005) with clearly defined, moderate policies with which to challenge the Liberals.

The convention provided the public with an opportunity to see the Conservative Party in a new light, appearing to have reduced the focus on its controversial social conservative agenda (although most Conservatives continue to oppose same-sex marriage). It retained its populist appeal by espousing tax cuts, smaller government, a grassroots-oriented democratic reform, and more decentralization by giving the provinces more taxing powers and decision-making authority in joint federal-provincial programs. The party's law and order package was an effort to address the perception of rising homicide rates, which had gone up 12% in 2004. Statistics Canada.

On May 17, 2005, MP Belinda Stronach surprised many when she crossed the floor from the Conservative Party to join the Liberal Party.

In late August and early September 2005, the Tories released ads through Ontario's major television broadcasters that highlighted their policies towards health care, education and child support. The ads each featured Stephen Harper discussing policy with prominent members of his Shadow Cabinet. Some analysts suggested at the time that the Tories would use similar ads in the expected 2006 federal election, instead of focusing their attacks on allegations of corruption in the Liberal government as they did earlier on.

An Ipsos-Reid Poll conducted after the fallout from the first report of the Gomery Commission on the sponsorship scandal showed the Tories practically tied for public support with the governing Liberal Party , and a poll from the Strategic Counsel suggested that the Conservatives were actually in the lead. However, polling two days later showed the Liberals had regained an 8-point lead .

On November 24, 2005, Opposition leader Stephen Harper introduced a motion of no confidence which was passed on November 28, 2005. With the confirmed backing of the other two opposition parties, this resulted in an election on January 23, 2006, following a campaign spanning the Christmas season.

The Conservatives started off the first month of the campaign by making a series of policy-per-day announcements, which included a Goods and Services Tax reduction and a child-care allowance. This strategy was a surprise to many in the news media, as they believed the party would focus on the sponsorship scandal; instead, the Conservative strategy was to let that issue ruminate with voters. The Liberals opted to hold their major announcements after the Christmas holidays; as a result, Harper dominated media coverage for the first few weeks of the campaign and was able "to define himself, rather than to let the Liberals define him". The Conservatives' announcements played to Harper's strengths as a policy wonk , as opposed to in the 2004 election and summer 2005 where he tried to overcome the perception that he was cool and aloof. Though his party showed only modest movement in the polls, Harper's personal approval numbers, which had always trailed his party's significantly, began to rise relatively rapidly.

On December 27, 2005, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced it was investigating Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's office for potentially engaging in insider trading before making an important announcement on the taxation of income trusts. The revelation of the criminal investigation and Goodale's refusal to step aside dominated news coverage for the following week, and it gained further attention when the United States Securities and Exchange Commission announced they would also launch a probe. The income trust scandal distracted public attention from the Liberals' key policy announcements and allowed the Conservatives to refocus on their previous attacks on corruption within the Liberal party. The Tories were leading in the polls by early January 2006, and made a major breakthrough in Quebec where they displaced the Liberals as the second place party (after the Bloc Québécois).

In response to the growing Conservative lead, the Liberals launched negative ads suggesting that Harper had a "hidden agenda", similar to the attacks made in the 2004 election. The Liberal ads did not have the same effect this time as the Conservatives had much more momentum, at one stage holding a ten-point lead. Harper's personal numbers continued to rise and polls found he was considered not only more trustworthy, but also a better potential Prime Minister than Paul Martin. In addition to the Conservatives being more disciplined, media coverage of the Conservatives was also more positive than in 2004. By contrast, the Liberals found themselves increasingly criticized for running a poor campaign and making numerous gaffes.

On January 23, 2006, the Conservatives won 124 seats, compared to 103 for the Liberals. The results made the Conservatives the largest party in the 308-member House of Commons, enabling them to form a minority government. On February 6, Stephen Harper was sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada, along with his Cabinet.

The Federal Accountability Act in response to the sponsorship scandal, President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable John Baird introduced the bill to the Canadian House of Commons on April 11, 2006. The bill was passed in the House of Commons on June 22, 2006, and was granted royal assent on December 13, 2006.

On October 31, 2006, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that the government would begin taxing income trusts in 2011, which went against one of their campaign promises, causing much consternation among supporters.

On November 22, 2006, Harper introduced his own motion to recognize the Québécois as forming a "nation within a united Canada". Five days later, Harper's motion passed, with a margin of 266–16; all federalist parties, as well as the Bloc Québécois, were formally behind it.

During three by-elections held on September 17, 2007, mayor Denis Lebel captured the seat of Roberval for the Conservatives, taking it from the Bloc, while Bernard Barre ran a close second in Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot. This raised the Conservative total in the House of Commons to 126 members. Some believe these results indicate that the Conservatives have consolidated their position as the main federalist option in Quebec, outside of Montreal.

On February 27, 2008, allegations surfaced that two Conservative Party officials offered Independent MP Chuck Cadman a million-dollar life insurance policy in exchange for his vote to bring down the Liberal government in a May 2005 budget vote. If the elements of the story are true, the Conservatives' actions may amount to a criminal offence. Under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is illegal to bribe an MP. An audio tape suggests then-opposition leader Stephen Harper was not only aware of a financial offer to Chuck Cadman but gave it his personal approval.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has been asked to investigate, and confirmed late February 28, 2008 that it is examining a claim from the Liberal Party that the incident violates the Criminal Code's Section 119 provisions on bribery and corruption.

The RCMP searched Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa on April 15, 2008 at the request of Elections Canada. Elections commissioner William Corbett requested the assistance of the Mounties. Elections Canada is probing Conservative party spending for advertisements during the 2006 parliamentary election campaign.

The Conservative Party of Canada, having reached the $18.3-million advertising spending limit set out under the Canada Elections Act, transferred cash to 66 local campaign offices. The local campaigns sent the money back to national party headquarters to buy local television and radio advertisements for their candidates.

Financial agents for at least 35 of those Conservative candidates later asked to be reimbursed for those expenses. Candidates who get 10 per cent of the votes in their riding get a portion of their election expenses returned from Elections Canada. Elections Canada refused, saying the party paid for the ads, not the candidates. The Conservatives maintain they didn't break any rules.

On May 26, 2008, the Conservative Party recognized in a private-members bill the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine as an act of genocide. The famine, orchestrated by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has been recognized as genocide by a dozen countries—although some historians disagree.

On September 7, 2008 Stephen Harper asked the Governor General of Canada to dissolve parliament. The election took place on 14 October. The Conservative Party returned to government with 143 seats, up from the 127 seats they held at dissolution, but short of the 155 necessary for a majority government. This is the third minority parliament in a row in Canada, and the second for Harper.

The Conservative Party pitched the election as a choice between Harper and the Liberals' Stéphane Dion, who they portrayed as a weak and ineffective leader. The election, however, was rocked midway through by the emerging global financial crisis and this became the central issue through to the end of the campaign. Mr. Harper has been criticised for appearing unresponsive and unsympathetic to the uncertainty Canadians were feeling during the period of financial turmoil, but he countered that the Conservatives were the best party to navigate Canada through the financial crisis, and portrayed the Liberal "Green Shift" plan as reckless and detrimental to Canada's economic well-being.

The Conservative Party released its platform on October 7. The platform states that it will re-introduce a bill similar to C-61.

A new cabinet was sworn in on October 30, 2008.

The party’s second convention was held in Winnipeg in November 2008. This was the party’s first convention since taking power in 2006, and media coverage concentrated on the fact that this time, the convention was not very policy-oriented, and showed the party to be becoming an establishment party.

However, the results of voting at the convention reveal that the party’s populist side still had some life. A resolution that would have allowed the party president a director of the party’s fund was defeated because it also permitted the twelve directors of the fund to become unelected “ex-officio” delegates. Some politically-incorrect policy resolutions were debated, including one to encourage provinces to utilize “both the public and private health sectors”, but most of these were defeated.

After the Conservative Party released their economic statement on November 27, 2008, there was a lot of criticism from Liberal Party, the NDP, and the Bloq Québécois. The opposition parties were against the cuts in public funding for political parties, and they alleged that the Conservatives were not doing enough to stimulate the weakening economy. As a result, these parties formed a coalition and planned to bring down the Conservative government through a non confidence vote. Prime Minister Harper asked the Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to prorogue parliament so that his party could prepare a new budget with the best interests of Canada in mind. The Governor General granted this request December 4 and parliament was prorogued until January 26, 2009.

The new Conservative Party is an amalgam of two contrasting views about conservatism in Canada. Historically, the Progressive Conservatives touted traditional Red Tory ideals like state funded social programs, rejected closer ties with the United States and attempted to model Canada after centuries-old British institutions. Western Canadian conservatism, embodied in the Canadian Alliance party, was more inspired by Western U.S.-based conservatism; it espoused closer ties with the United States, Blue Tory conservatism, privatization, smaller government as well as reform and overhaul of political institutions (on the American/Australian model) and a decentralized federalism (a limited government in Ottawa with stronger provinces, as also advocated by Brian Mulroney). The new party generally supports a market economy approach to the economic sphere. The Conservative Party also provides a home for a multitude of other conservatives, such as libertarian conservatives, environmental conservatives, Canadian republicans, monarchists, and many others.

Since most of the MPs for the new party as well as the grassroots supporters come from the western provinces, its policy has significant influence from Reform Party of Canada philosophy, even though the new party has shed much of Reform's social conservative image, and is more focused on economic, military, "law and order" and democratic reform/ethics-in-government issues. Unlike the old Progressive Conservatives, it more reflects a strong Blue Tory ideology. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is known as an avid fiscal conservative and a strong supporter for a strong military within the context of a joint command for the Canadian Forces co-operating and co-planning with the U.S. under the umbrella of a central command, modeled after NORAD. He has embraced some social conservative positions, such as opposition to same-sex marriage, though not to same-sex civil unions.

The merger symbolizes the latest chapter in the evolution of conservatism in Canada, as the historical Conservative Party, which was founded by United Empire Loyalists, was vehemently opposed to free trade and further integration with the United States, aiming instead to model Canadian political institutions after British ones. Then under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, the party emphasized market forces in the economy and reached a landmark free-trade deal with the United States. Some critics argue that the current incarnation of conservatism espouses pro-American views, aspires to emulate American capitalism, less government involvement in the economy and more grassroots-oriented Jeffersonian democratic reform.

Being conservative both fiscally and socially, the Conservative Party generally favours lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of federal government powers to the provinces modeled after the Meech Lake Accord and a tougher stand on "law and order" issues. It is also opposed to the legalization of cannabis and has had a free vote on whether the House wanted to reopen the issue of same-sex marriage, which was defeated.

The party favors more spending on the military, and harmonizing standards and regulations with those of the United States.

As the successor of the western-based Canadian Alliance, the party also supports reform of the Senate to make it "elected, equal, and effective" (the "Triple-E Senate"). In practice, however, party leader Stephen Harper appointed the unelected Michael Fortier to both the Senate and to the Cabinet on 6 February 2006, the day his minority government took office. On December 22, 2008 the Prime Minister filled all eighteen vacant Senate seats. It was earlier reported in the Toronto Star that this action was "to kill any chance of a Liberal-NDP coalition government filling the vacancies next year".

The party also supports several other substantial reforms to reduce the present power of the Prime Minister's Office, such as establishing fixed election dates every four years and giving individual MPs more leeway in representing their constituents. In addition, in the wake of the sponsorship scandal and the resulting high-profile Gomery Inquiry the Conservative Party advocated government accountability and transparency reforms.

The Conservative Party, while officially having no current provincial wings, largely works with the former federal Progressive Conservative Party's provincial affiliates. There have been calls to change the names of the provincial parties from "Progressive Conservative" to "Conservative". However, there are other small "c" conservative parties which the federal Conservative Party has close ties with, such as the Saskatchewan Party, the Action démocratique du Québec (ADQ), and to a lesser degree some right-wing BC Liberals (even though there is an active British Columbia Conservative Party).

The federal Conservative party has the support of many of the provincial Conservative leaders. In Ontario, provincial PC Party leader John Tory and interim provincial opposition leader Bob Runciman have expressed open support for Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada, with former Mike Harris cabinet members Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement, and John Baird now ministers in Harper's government.

Support between federal and provincial Conservatives is more tenuous in some other provinces. In Alberta, relations have been strained between the federal Conservative Party and the Progressive Conservative. Part of the federal Tories' loss in the 2004 election was often blamed on then Premier Klein's public musings on health care late in the campaign. Klein had also called for a referendum on same-sex marriage. With the impending 2006 election, Klein predicted another Liberal minority, though this time the federal Conservatives won a minority government . Klein's successor Ed Stelmach has generally tried to avoid causing similar controversies, however Harper's surprise pledge to restrict bitumen exports drew a sharp rebuke from the Albertan government, who warned such restrictions would violate both the Constitution of Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement.

After the 2007 budget was announced the two conservative governments in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland accused the federal Conservatives of breaching the terms of the Atlantic Accord. As a result relations have worsened between the two provincial governments, leading Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams to publicly denounce the federal Conservatives, which has given rise to his ABC (Anything But Conservative) campaign in the 2008 election.

While officially separate, federal Conservative Party documents, such as membership applications, can be picked up from most provincial Progressive Conservative Party offices. Several of the provincial parties also contain open links to the federal Conservative website on their respective websites.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper has attended multiple provincial Progressive Conservative party conventions as a keynote speaker and he has encouraged all federal party members to purchase memberships in their provincial conservative counterparts.

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Ontario general election, 2003

Ontario general election, 2003

The Ontario Legislature after the 2003 election.

The Ontario general election of 2003 was held on October 2, 2003, to elect the 103 members of the 38th Legislative Assembly (Members of Provincial Parliament, or "MPPs") of the Province of Ontario, Canada.

The election was called on September 2 by Premier Ernie Eves to capitalize on an increase in support for the governing Ontario Progressive Conservative Party in the days following the 2003 North American blackout. The election was won, however, by the Ontario Liberal Party, led by Dalton McGuinty.

In 1995, the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party or "Tories" under Mike Harris came from third place to upset the front-running Ontario Liberal Party under Lyn McLeod and the highly unpopular governing Ontario New Democratic Party under Bob Rae to form a majority government. The Harris government was far more activist than earlier Ontario PC governments, and over the next two terms moved to cut personal income tax rates by 30%, closed almost 40 hospitals to increase efficiency, cut the Ministry of the Environment staff in half, and undertook massive reforms of the education system including mandatory teacher testing and student testing in public education and public tax credits for parents who sent their children to private schools.

In the 1999 provincial election, the Tories were able to ride a strong economy and a campaign aimed at proving rookie Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty was "not up to the job" to another majority government. However, the Walkerton Tragedy, where a contaminated water supply led to the deaths of 7 people and illness of at least 2,300 were linked in part to government environment and regulatory cutbacks, the government was badly damaged. A movement to provide tax credits to parents with children in private schools also proved to be unpopular.

In September 2001, Harris announced his intention to resign and the PC party called a leadership convention for 2002 to replace him. Five candidates emerged: former Finance Minister Ernie Eves who had retired earlier that year, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Environment Minister Elizabeth Witmer, Health Minister Tony Clement and Labour Minister Chris Stockwell. The resulting leadership election was divisive in the PC Party, with Flaherty adopting a hard-right platform and attacking the front-running Eves as "a pale, pink imitation of Dalton McGuinty" and a "serial waffler." At one point, anti-abortion activists apparently supporting Flaherty distributed pamphlets attacking Tony Clement because his wife worked for hospitals that performed abortions. At the convention, Eves was able to win on the second ballot after Elizabeth Witmer and Tony Clement both endorsed him.

Eves took office on April 15, 2002, and promptly re-aligned his government to the political centre. The party would negotiate a deal with striking government workers, dramatically cancel an IPO of Hydro One, the government's electricity transmission company, and defer planned tax breaks for corporations and private schools for a year. With polls showing the Conservatives moving from a 15 point deficit to a tie in public opinion with the Liberals, the media praising Eves' political reorientation of the government, and the opposition Liberals reeling from the seizure of some of their political turf, the time seemed ripe for a snap election call. Many political observers felt that Eves had the momentum to win an election at that time.

However, several factors likely convinced Eves to wait to call an election. First, in 1990, the Liberals had lost the election in part due to perceptions that they called the election early for purely partisan reasons. Since then, the shortest distance between elections has been four years less five days (Ontario has since moved to fixed date election dates). Second, the PC Party was exhausted and divided from a six-month leadership contest. Third, the move to the centre had created opposition in traditional Conservative support. Financial conservatives and businesses were angered over Eves' cancellation of the hydro IPO. Others felt betrayed that promised tax cuts had not been delivered, seemingly breaking the PCs' own Taxpayer Protection Act, while private school supporters were upset their promised tax credit had been delayed for a year.

In the fall of 2002, the opposition Liberals began a round of attacks on perceived PC mismanagement. First, Jim Flaherty was embroiled in scandal when it was revealed that his leadership campaign's largest donor had received a highly lucrative contract for slot machines from the government. Then, Tourism Minister Cam Jackson was forced to resign when the Liberals revealed he had charged taxpayers more than $100,000 for hotel rooms, steak dinners and alcoholic beverages. The Liberals showed the Tories had secretly given a large tax break to the Toronto Blue Jays, a team owned by prominent Tory Ted Rogers.

At the same time, both the New Democrats and Liberals criticized the government over skyrocketing electricity prices. In May 2002, the government had followed California and Alberta in deregulating the electricity market. With contracting supply due to construction delays at the Pickering nuclear power plant and rising demand for electricity in an unusually warm autumn, the spot price for electricity rose, resulting in consumer outrage. In November, Eves fixed the price of electricity and ended the open market, appeasing consumers but angering conservative free-marketers.

That winter, Eves promised a provincial budget before the beginning of the fiscal year, to help hospitals and schools budget effectively. However, as multiple scandals in the fall had already made the party unwilling to return to Question Period, they wished to dismiss the Legislative Assembly of Ontario until as late as possible in the spring. The budget was instead to be announced at the Magna International headquarters in Newmarket, Ontario rather than in the Legislature. The move was met with outrage from the PC Speaker, Gary Carr who called the move unconstitutional and would rule that it was a prima facae case of contempt of the legislature. The controversy over the location of the budget would far outstrip any support earned by the content of the budget.

The government faced a major crisis when SARS killed several people in Toronto and threatened the stability of the health care system. On April 23, when the World Health Organization advised against all but essential travel to Toronto to prevent the spread of the virus, Toronto tourism greatly suffered.

When the spring session was finally convened in late spring, the Eves government was forced through three days of debate on the contempt motion over the Magna budget followed by weeks of calls for the resignation of Energy Minister Chris Stockwell. Stockwell was accused of accepting thousands of dollars in undeclared gifts from Ontario Power Generation, an arms length crown corporation he regulated, when he travelled to Europe in the summer of 2002. Stockwell finally stepped aside after dominating the provincial news for almost a month, and would not seek reelection.

By the summer of 2003, the Progressive Conservatives received an unexpected opportunity to re-gain popularity in the form of the 2003 North American blackout. When the blackout hit, Eves initially received criticism for his late response; however, as he led a series of daily briefings to the press in the days after the blackout, Eves was able to demonstrate leadership and stayed cool under pressure. The crisis also allowed Eves to highlight his principal campaign themes of experience, proven competence and ability to handle the government. When polls began to register a moderate increase for the Conservatives, the table was set for an election call.

In 1995 and 1999, the Progressive Conservatives ran highly focused, disciplined campaigns based on lessons learned principally in US states by the Republican Party. In 1995, the core PC strategy was to polarize the electorate around a handful of controversial ideas that would split opposition between the other two parties. The PCs stressed radical tax cuts, opposition to job quotas, slashing welfare rates and a few hot button issues like opposing photo radar and establish "boot camps" for young offenders. They positioned leader Mike Harris as an average-guy populist who would restore common sense to government after ten lost years of NDP and Liberal mismanagement. The campaign manifesto, released in 1994, was titled the "Common Sense Revolution" and advocated a supply side economics solution to a perceived economic malaise.

In 1999, the PCs were able to point to increased economic activity as evidence that their supply side plan worked. Their basic strategy was to again polarize the electorate around a handful of controversial ideas and their record while preventing opposition from rallying exclusively around the Liberals by undermining confidence in Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty. They ran a series of negative television ads against McGuinty in an attempt to brand him as "not up to the job." At the same time, they emphasized their economic record, while downplaying disruptions in health care and education as part of a needed reorganization of public services that promoted efficiency and would lead to eventual improvements.

Heading into 2003, Tom Long refused to work for Ernie Eves. Most speculated that Long saw Eves as too wishy-washy and not enough of a traditional hard-right conservative. Jaime Watt took Long's position as campaign co-chair and more or less all the same players settled into the same spot. A few new faces included Jeff Bangs as campaign manager. Bangs was a long-time Eves loyalist who had grown up in his riding of Parry Sound.

The Progressive Conservatives once again planned on polarizing the electorate around a handful of hot button campaign pledges. However, with their party and government listing in public opinion polls, they found their only strong contrasts were around the experience and stature of Premier Eves. Their campaign slogan "Experience You Can Trust" was designed to highlight Eves' years in office.

Each plank was targeted at a key Tory voting bloc: homeowners, seniors, religious conservatives, parents and law-and-order types.

Eves' campaigning followed a straight-forward pattern. Eves would highlight one of the five elements of the platform and then attack Dalton McGuinty for opposing it. For instance, he would visit the middle-class home of a visible minority couple with two kids and talk about how much money they would get under his mortgage deducatability plan. That would be followed by an attack on McGuinty for having a secret plan to raise their taxes. Or he would campaign in a small town assembly plant and talk about how under a "Made-in-Ontario" immigration plan fewer new Canadians would settle in Toronto and more outside the city, helping the plant manager with his labour shortage. Then he would link McGuinty to Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien and say McGuinty supported the federal immigration system that allows terrorists and criminals into the country.

The Tory television advertising also attempted to polarize the election around these issues.

In one of the ads, a voice-over accompanying an unflattering photo of the Liberal leader asks "Ever wonder why Dalton McGuinty wants to raise your taxes?" The ad then points out that McGuinty has opposed Tory plans to allow homeowners a tax deduction on mortgage interest and to give senior citizens a break on their property taxes.

In another ad, the voice-over asks "Doesn't he (McGuinty) know that a child's education is too important to be disrupted by lockouts and strikes?" It says that McGuinty has sided with the unions and rejected the Tory proposal to ban teacher strikes.

Armed with a majority, the Tories were hoping to hold the seats they already had, while targeting a handful of rural Liberal seats in hopes of increasing their majority. They campaigned relatively little in Northern Ontario, with the exception of North Bay and Parry Sound, both of which they held.

The first half of Dalton McGuinty's 1999 campaign was widely criticized as disorganized and uninspired, and most journalists believe he gave a poor performance in the leaders' debate. However, McGuinty was able to rally his party in the last ten days. On election day, the Liberals won 40% of the vote, their second best showing in almost fifty years. Perhaps more importantly, nine new MPPs were elected, boosting the caucus from 30 to 36, including dynamic politicians like George Smitherman and Michael Bryant.

In 1999, the Liberal strategy had been to polarize the electorate between Mike Harris and Dalton McGuinty. They purposely put out a platform that was devoid of ideas, to ensure the election was about the Tory record, and not the Liberal agenda. To an extent, they succeeded. Support for the NDP collapsed from 21% to just 13%, while the Liberals climbed 9%. However, while they almost cornered the market of those angry at the Tories, they could not convince enough people to be angry at the Tories to win.

McGuinty replaced many of his young staff with experienced political professionals he recruited. Three he kept in key positions were Don Guy, his campaign manager and a pollster with Pollara, Matt Maychak, his director of communications, and Bob Lopinski, his director of issues management. To develop his platform, he added to this a new chief of staff, Phil Dewan, a former policy director for Premier David Peterson and Ottawa veteran Gerald M. Butts. He also sought out Peterson-era Ontario Minister of Labour Greg Sorbara to run for president of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Early on, McGuinty set down three strategic imperatives. First, no tax cuts. This ran against the conventional wisdom of politics that you had to offer tax cuts to win; everyone from Mike Harris to Bill Clinton had campaigned on reducing the tax burden on the middle class. But McGuinty was determined that Ontario voters would accept that the money was needed to restore public health care and education services. Second, a positive tone. McGuinty wanted to avoid the typical opposition leader role of automatically opposing whatever the government announced, and instead, set the agenda with positive alternatives. While attacking your opponent was important, that would be left to caucus surrogates. Third, one big team. At the time, the Ontario Liberal Party was riven into factions. Peterson-era people distrusted more recent arrivals. Jean Chrétien supporters fought with Paul Martin supporters. McGuinty set a tone that divisions were left at the door.

The emphasis on building the team was highly successful as job that in 1999 were done by one person were now assigned to groups of four or six or eight. Dewan brought on board veterans of the Peterson regime such as Sheila James, Vince Borg and David MacNaughton. From Ottawa, campaign veterans such as Warren Kinsella, Derek Kent and Gordon Ashworth signed on to help oust the Ontario Tories from power.

The Liberal strategy was the same as in 1999: polarize the election between the Conservatives and Liberals to marginalize the NDP and then convince enough voters that the Conservatives had to go. With polls showing more than 60% of voters reporting it was "time for a change", the Liberals campaign theme was "choose change". The theme summarized the two-step strategy perfectly: first, boil the election down to a two-party choice and then cast the Liberals as a capable and trustworthy agent of change at a time when voters were fed up with the government.

McGuinty backed up his comprehensive platform with a meticulous costing by a forensic account and two bank economists. While the Conservatives had adopted a third-party verification in 1995, they did not in 2003, allowing the Liberals to gain credibility that they could pay for their promises.

In contrast to the Eves campaign, where the leader was both positive and negative message carrier, the Liberals used a number of caucus members to criticize the Harris-Eves government while McGuinty was free to promote his positive plan for change.

The Liberal advertising strategy was highly risky. While conventional wisdom says the only way to successfully respond to a negative campaign is with even more negative ads against your opponent, McGuinty ran only positive ads for the duration of the campaign.

Geographically, the Liberal campaign was able to rest on a solid core of seats in Toronto and Northern Ontario that were at little risk at the beginning of the election period. They had to defend a handful of rural seats that had been recently won and were targeted by the PCs. However, the principle battlefield of the election was in PC-held territory in the "905" region of suburbs around Toronto, particularly Peel and York districts, suburban seats around larger cities like Ottawa and Hamilton and in Southwestern Ontario in communities like London, Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.

The 1999 NDP campaign received its lowest level of popular support since the Second World War, earning just 12.6% of the vote and losing party status with just nine seats. Several factors led to this poor showing, including a lacklustre campaign, Hampton's low profile and a movement called strategic voting that endorsed voting for the Liberals in most ridings in order to remove the governing Tories. After the election, there was a short-lived attempt to remove leader Howard Hampton publicly led by leaders of the party's youth wing. However, the majority of party members blamed the defeat on NDP supporters voting Liberal in hopes of removing Harris and the Tories from power. As a result, Hampton was not widely blamed for this severe defeat and stayed on as leader.

Under the rules of the Legislative Assembly, a party would receive "official party status", and the resources and privileges accorded to officially-recognized parties, if it had 12 or more seats; thus, the NDP would lose caucus funding and the ability to ask questions in the House. However, the governing Conservatives changed the rules after the election to lower the threshold for party status from 12 seats to 8. The Tories argued that since Ontario's provincial ridings now had the same boundaries as the federal ones, the threshold should be lowered to accommodate the smaller legislature. Others argued that the Tories were only helping the NDP so they could continue to split the vote with the Liberals.

During the period before the election, Hampton identified the Conservative plan for deregulating and privatizing electricity generation and transmission as the looming issue of the next election. With the Conservatives holding a firm market-oriented line and the Liberal position muddled, Hampton boldly focused the party's Question Period and research agendas almost exclusively on energy issues. Hampton quickly distinguished himself as a passionate advocate of maintaining public ownership of electricity generation, and published a book on the subject, Public Power, in 2003.

With the selection of Eves as the PC leader, the NDP hoped that the government's move to the centre in the spring of 2002 would reduce the polarization of the Ontario electorate between the PCs and Liberals and improve the NDP's standing. It was also hoped that the long-standing split between labour and the NDP would be healed as the bitter legacy of the Rae government faded.

The co-chairs of the NDP campaign were Diane O'Reggio, newly installed as the party's provincial secretary after a stint in Ottawa working for the federal party, and Andre Foucault, secretary-treasurer of the Communications Energy and Paperworkers union. The manager was Rob Milling, principal secretary to Hampton. Communications were handled by Sheila White and Gil Hardy. Jeff Ferrier was the media coordinator.

The NDP strategy was to present itself as distinct from the Liberals on the issue of public ownership of public services, primarily in electricity and health care, while downplaying any significant differences between the Liberals and PCs. There was a conscious effort to discourage "strategic voting" where NDP supporters vote Liberal to defeat the Conservatives. The NDP slogan was "publicpower", designed to highlight both the energy issue Hampton had championed and public health care, while promoting a populist image of empowerment for average people.

The NDP campaign was designed to be highly visual and memorable. Each event was built around a specific visual thematic. For instance, in the first week of the campaign, Hampton attacked the Liberal energy platform saying it was "full of holes" and holding up a copy of the platform with oversized holes punched in it. He also illustrated it "had more holes than Swiss cheese" by also displaying a large block of cheese. At another event, Hampton and his campaign team argued that the Liberal positions were like "trying to nail Jello to the wall" by literally attempting to nail Jello to a wall.

The first round of NDP ads avoided personal attacks, and cast leader Howard Hampton as a champion of public utilities. In one 30-second spot, Mr. Hampton talks about the effects of privatization of the power industry and the blackout. "For most of us, selling off our hydro was the last straw," he says. The clip is mixed with images of Toronto streets during power failure.

Geographically, the NDP campaign focused on targeting seats in Scarborough and Etobicoke in Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Northern Ontario.

The first week of the campaign was dominated by the Conservatives, who launched a series of highly negative attacks at Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty while highlighting popular elements of their platform. On the Saturday of the first week, a round of media-sponsored public opinion polls showed the Liberals 12 point lead reduced to a tie between the Liberals and Conservatives. The Conservative strategy of "going negative" appeared to be working. Combined with Premier Eves' high-profile performance in the blackout, most media commentators believed the Liberals would have to also go negative.

As the campaign entered week 2, it was anticipated that the Liberals would push a series of highly negative ads to combat advertising by the Conservatives that attacked Dalton McGuinty. However, instead they went positive and stayed positive throughout the campaign. It was Eves who went on the defensive as the Liberals worked the media to put the Premier on his heels. Stung by years of arrogance by the PC Party toward reporters, the media were quick to pile on.

After the Liberals Gerry Phillips and Gerald M. Butts accused Eves of having no plan to pay for his $10.4 billion in promises, Eves stumbled when he could not provide his own cost for his promises. "I couldn't tell you off the top of my head," he admitted. Then came a story on the front of the Globe and Mail saying that Ontarians would have to pay "millions" in extra premiums because the election call had delayed implementation of new auto insurance regulations promised by Eves on the eve of the campaign. On Wednesday the government was broadsided when - days after a raid at a meat packing plant exposed the story state of public health at some abattoirs - leaked documents showed the PC government had been sitting on recommendations to improve meat safety, leading to calls for a public inquiry by the opposition parties. The issue was made worse when Agriculture Minister Helen Johns refused all media calls and had to be literally tracked down in her riding by reporters. On Thursday, according to the Green party candidate in Nipissing (Mike Harris's old riding), a donor with Tory connections offered him money to bolster his campaign and draw votes away from the Liberals. The same day, Eves attacked Dalton McGuinty for voting against a bill to protect taxpayers from increased taxes, when it turns out McGuinty in fact voted for that bill. Finally, on the Friday of the second week, the Eves campaign issued a bizarre press release calling Dalton McGuinty an evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet. This moment would prove the defining moment of the campaign. First, it was so memorable and unusual that it served to attract the attention of all Ontarians, including those who don't pay attention to a campaign until its final days. Second, the over-the-top negativity brought to life a key critique of the Liberals, that the Harris-Eves Tories picked fights for no reason and went too far. Third, the hysteria around the comment put the Eves campaign on the defensive in the media at a critical point and prevented them from regaining their footing after a difficult week. Fourth, it polarized the election around the PCs and Liberals, and left the NDP on the sidelines. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Eves team was instantly at each other's throats over who would take the blame for approving the press release.

The Conservatives spent the third week on the defensive and dropping in the polls, unable to recover from the disasters of the second week and fresh new attacks. The Liberals produced documents from the Walkerton Inquiry showing that individual Conservative MPPs were warned about risks to human health and safety resulting from cuts to the Environment Ministry budget. An attack on Dalton McGuinty saying he needed "professional help" forced an apology from the Conservatives to people with mental illness. Tory MPP John O'Toole said the Tory negative campaign was a mistake, putting Eves on the defensive once again. A leaked memo was used by the opposition to accuse the government of threatening public sector workers into not telling the truth at a public inquiry into the government's handling of the SARS crisis. Eves ended the week with another event that backfired, brandishing barbed wire and a get out of jail free card to attack the Liberals as soft on crime. Reporters spent more time focused on Eves' first use of props in the election than on his message.

By the fourth week of the campaign, polls showed the Liberals pulling away from the Conservatives with a margin of at least 10 points. It was widely believed that only a disastrous performance in the leader's debate stood between Dalton McGuinty and the Premier's Office. McGuinty - who had stumbled badly in the 1999 debate - was able to play off low expectations and a surprisingly low-key Eves to earn the draw he wanted. The debate itself was also subject to criticism from the Green Party of Ontario, which denounced a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision not to allow leader Frank de Jong to participate.

The final week of the campaign was marred by more negative attacks from Eves and the Conservatives. At one point, Premier Eves referred to Mr. McGuinty as having a "pointy head", a remark he later conceded was inappropriate. McGuinty was able to extend the bad press from the incident another day when he joked to radio hosts that they needed to be careful "so I won't spear you with my sharp pointy head." McGuinty spent the last days of the campaign travelling through previously rock solid PC territory in ridings like Durham, Simcoe and Leeds-Grenville to large crowds.

For its part, the Ontario New Democratic Party (NDP) led a theatrical campaign that proved ineffective. Leader Howard Hampton made an appearance in front of the Toronto home of millionaire Peter Munk to denounce Eves' tax breaks, claiming that they would save Munk $18,000 a year. He attempted to nail Jell-O to a wall to dramatize the elusiveness he accused his opponents of regarding hydro privatization. He also used a piece of Swiss cheese to suggest that his opponents' platforms were full of holes.

The campaign was contentious on the issues as well, with both the Liberals and Howard Hampton's New Democrats attacking the Tories' record in office. Various scandals and other unpopular moves reduced public opinion of the Tories going into the race, including the Walkerton water tragedy, the deaths of Dudley George and Kimberly Rogers, the possible sale of publicly owned electric utility Hydro One, the SARS outbreak, the decision to release the 2003 budget at an auto parts factory instead of the Legislature, the widespread blackout in August, and the Aylmer packing plant tainted meat investigation. . As one Tory insider put it "So many chickens came to roost, its like a remake of The Birds".

One of the most contentious issues was education. All three parties pledged to increase spending by $2 billion, but Premier Eves also pledged to ban teacher strikes, lock-outs, and work-to-rule campaigns during the school year, a move the other parties rejected. Teacher strikes had plagued the previous Progressive Conservative mandate of Mike Harris, whose government had deeply cut education spending.

Tax cuts were also an issue. The Progressive Conservatives proposed a wide range of tax cuts, including a 20-percent cut to personal income taxes, and the elimination of education tax paid by seniors, two moves that would have cost $1.3 billion together. The Liberals and New Democrats rejected these cuts as profligate. The Liberals also promised to cancel some pending Tory tax cuts and to eliminate some tax cuts already introduced.

CBC Newsworld declared a Liberal victory minutes after ballot-counting began. Ernie Eves conceded defeat only ninety minutes into the count.

The Liberals won a huge majority with 72 seats, almost 70% of the 106 seat legislature. The Liberals not only won almost every seat in the city of Toronto, but every seat bordering on Toronto as well. All seven seats in Peel region went Liberal, as well as previously safe PC 905 seats like Markham, Oakville and Pickering-Ajax. The Liberals also made a major breakthrough in Southwestern Ontario, grabbing all three seats in London as well as rural seats like Perth-Middlesex, Huron-Bruce and Lambton-Kent. If the story of the PC majorities in 1995 and 1999 were the marriage of rural and small-town conservative bedrock with voters in the suburbs, the 2003 election was a divorce of those suburban voters from rural Ontario and a new marriage to the mid-town professionals and New Canadians who make up the Liberal base.

The NDP had a disappointingly confusing election: on one hand, they won seven seats, one fewer than the eight required to keep "official party status", which would give it a share of official Queen's Park staff, money for research, and guaranteed time during Question Period. On the other hand, they increased their share of the popular vote for the first time since 1990. Despite the mixed results, Hampton stayed on as party leader, saying that the party did not blame him for the poor performance in an election where voters were apparently more concerned about defeating the Tories by any means necessary than about voting their conscience. The party was returned to official party status seven months into the session, when Andrea Horwath won a by-election in Hamilton East on May 13, 2004.

The Tories were completely shut out of Toronto, where 19 out of 22 ridings were won by the Liberals, and the remaining three were carried by the New Democrats. Perhaps more ominously for the PCs, they were also shut out of any seats bordering Toronto; only in the outermost and most ethically homogenous suburbs like Aurora and Whitby were high-profile PC cabinet ministers able to retain their seats. With the arguable exception of Elizabeth Witmer, no PC member represents an urban riding. The PC caucus is now overwhelmingly older white men from rural ridings elected in 1995 and ideologically right-wing.

The 38th Parliament of Ontario opened on November 19, 2003 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time with a Throne Speech in which the McGuinty government laid out their agenda.

High school students in every riding in Ontario were allowed to cast ballots in their classrooms as part of a student vote. While their numbers did not count in the official election, they did tell a story all on their own. The student vote reflected change a lot more than the actual result, as well as widespread anti-conservatism. 93 ridings favoured the Liberals in the student vote, nine favoured the New Democrats, and one favoured the Greens, while the Conservatives were shut out. There was also a vote for elementary students.

1 "Before" refers to the party standings in the Legislature at the end of the legislative session, and not to the standings at the previous election.

2 Richard Butson was the sole candidate for the Confederation of Regions Party.

3Ten candidates ran as "Independent Renewal" candidates. This was the Marxist-Leninist Party under another name.

4Candidates from the Independent Reform Party and Communist League also ran as independents.

5Costas Manios ran as an "Independent Liberal" candidate after being denied the opportunity to run for the Liberal Party nomination in Scarborough Centre. Outgoing MPP Claudette Boyer had sat in the house as an "Independent Liberal" from 2001 to 2003.

It is possible that some other candidates listed on the ballot as independents ran for unregistered parties.

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John Baird (Canadian politician)

John Russell Baird, PC, MP (born May 26, 1969) is a Canadian politician. A long-time resident of the former city of Nepean and a graduate of Kingston's Queens University, he is the member of the Canadian House of Commons for the riding of Ottawa West—Nepean. He was elected as a candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2006 federal election when his party won a minority government over Paul Martin's Liberal Party.

Baird was sworn in as Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communitites, replacing Lawrence Cannon, on October 30, 2008, in the cabinet of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Baird had held the post of Minister of the Environment since Prime Minister Harper's cabinet reshuffle of January 2007. Prior to this, he served as the President of the Treasury Board during the Conservatives' first year in power, before being replaced by Vic Toews.

Since his beginning in the political ranks, Baird is well known for being combative in many subjects in both levels of government. During his tenure in the Harris Cabinet, he adopted several cost-saving measures including cuts to social programs and a failed attempt to sell Hydro One, the government-owned utility firm. As the federal President of the Treasury Board in the Harper Cabinet, he adopted the Federal Accountability Act, which was put in place after the Gomery Commission which investigated the federal sponsorship scandal in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As Environment Minister, Baird has been opposed to the Kyoto Protocol which Canada had previously ratified.

A resident of Nepean, he became involved in politics when he backed a candidate for the local federal PC nomination in 1984. The next year, at age sixteen, Baird was the youngest delegate to attend the party's January 1985 leadership convention. as a supporter of Ontario Attorney-General Roy McMurtry.

He was later president of the youth wing of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and aligned himself with Dennis Timbrell during the latter's abortive campaign for the PC leadership in 1989-90. He backed Mike Harris when Timbrell withdrew from the contest. Baird has also indicated that he was charged with trespassing during the 1988 federal election, after he tried to question Ontario Premier David Peterson about free trade with the United States during a Liberal Party campaign stop in a Kingston shopping mall. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Studies from Queen's University in 1992.

Baird worked on the political staff of Perrin Beatty when Beatty was federal Minister of National Defence in the early 1990s, and followed Beatty through subsequent cabinet shifts culminating in his becoming Secretary of State for External Affairs in the short-lived government of Kim Campbell. After the defeat of the federal Progressive Conservatives in the 1993 federal election, Baird worked as a lobbyist in Ottawa.

Baird has been a vegetarian since 1997. He has a pet grey tabby cat. In June 2008, he was selected by the Ottawa Business Journal as a recipient of the "Forty Under 40" award.

While Baird had previously been associated with moderate Tories such as Timbrell and Beatty, he became associated with the more right-wing ideology of the Mike Harris-led Ontario PC party upon entering provincial politics. He was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 1995, defeating Liberal incumbent Hans Daigeler in the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean. The youngest member of the legislature, Baird was appointed parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Labour on July 13, 1995.

Baird joined Premier Harris's cabinet on June 17, 1999 as Minister of Community and Social Services, where he became responsible for implementing and expanding Ontario's workfare program. As one of Harris's few bilingual ministers, he was also named as Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs.

Baird's first press conference as a cabinet minister was held in July 1999, and was intended to highlight the Harris government's record in reducing the provincial welfare rolls. Baird told reporters that 15,000 people had left the system since the introduction of workfare, and used this figure to argue that the government's policy was a success. At the time, he lacked information on the number of workfare recipients who actually found jobs, and he also did not account for 40% of the welfare recipients who had been cut from the list. A number of media reports subsequently criticized both the principle and the implementation of workfare in Ontario.

A September 1999 report from Baird's ministry showed that 10,600 workfare placements had been created in the first six months of 1999, a figure which the Toronto Star observed was significantly lower than that which had been predicted by the government. Baird indicated that he would continue with the workfare program, and that the proportion of welfare recipients on workfare would be increased from 15% to 30%.

Baird came under criticism in late 1999 for refusing to cancel a five-year contract that had been signed between his department and the Bermuda-based private firm Andersen Consulting (later Accenture), worth up to $180 million. The contract, signed when Janet Ecker was Community and Social Services minister, entrusted Andersen with providing technological upgrades to the province's welfare management system. The arrangement was criticized by Auditor General Erik Peters, who observed that there was nothing in the contract to prevent Andersen from increasing its hourly rates. A published report in early 2000 indicated that Andersen was charging an average of $257 per hour for work that had previously been done by ministry staff at $51 per hour. Another report indicated that the firm had charged a total of $55 million to find roughly $66 million worth of savings. In response to opposition questions, Baird said that he would not terminate the contract but would endeavour to negotiate a lower rate. Baird opposed the Harris government's plan to amalgamate the city of Ottawa with neighboring municipalities, which was approved by the Legislature in 1999.

In January 2000, Baird unveiled a series of initiatives designed to reduce fraud and misuse in the welfare system. This was highlighted by the establishment of a welfare fraud hotline. Three months later, he added that anyone convicted of welfare fraud would run the risk of being given a lifetime ban from the program. Critics of this approach suggested that the Harris government was overstating the extent of fraud in order to undermine public confidence in welfare programs. In mid-year, Baird announced that workfare placements had reached departmental quotas for most of the province.

Baird revealed a $50 million program in May 2000 to help people with developmental disabilities become integrated into their communities. He later affirmed that the province was considering closing its remaining three institutions for the mentally handicapped as part of a larger strategy focusing on home care. Baird expressed concern about the physical condition of these institutions, saying that their residents "deserve better". Later in the year, Baird stated that his department would spend $26 million on shelters and other funding for the homeless.

Baird supported mandatory drug-testing for welfare recipients and argued that those who refused such tests should be at risk of have their assistance cut off. He introduced a policy initiative to this effect at a press conference in late 2000, in which he dramatically cast a box of syringes onto the floor and said that his department planned to "stop people from shooting their welfare cheque up their arm, and to help them shoot up the ladder of success". Baird acknowledged that his department did not have reliable figures on the number of welfare recipients abusing drugs, although he cited estimates of between 4% and 10%. The proposal was met with criticism from several sources, and Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Keith Norton, himself a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister, expressed concern that it could violate basic civil liberties.

Shortly after Baird's announcement, a government website operated by the Ministry of Community and Social Services launched an attack against Liberal Party leader Dalton McGuinty for opposing the drug testing plan. The site claimed that McGuinty was "opposed to helping welfare recipients who are addicted to drugs". Baird denied that the message was partisan and initially refused to apologize. The Speaker of the Ontario Legislature subsequently ruled that the site content was inappropriate and it was removed with an apology from the government. The drug-testing plan was never fully implemented.

In early 2001, Baird announced that his government's proposed drug-testing plan would be extended to identify welfare recipients addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. He later announced that provincial welfare applicants would be required to pass a literacy test. The Harris government's welfare policies were put under scrutiny in August 2001 after a pregnant woman in Sudbury, Kimberly Rogers, died while serving a house arrest for welfare fraud. The woman had been confined to her apartment for three months and reports indicated that her pregnancy was "exacerbated by sweltering conditions in her apartment". Responding to criticism, Baird said that he could not comment on the specifics of the case until a coroner's inquest was completed. He also defended his government's general policy on welfare issues. A subsequent inquest did not assign blame to the government for the woman's death, but recommended that lifetime bans for fraud be eliminated, and that adequate food, housing and medication be provided to anyone under house arrest. Baird was given additional responsibilities as Minister responsible for Children on February 8, 2001. His department increased funding for child services early in the year, amid a significant increase in provincial demand. In November 2001, the provincial media obtained a confidential government report recommending 40-45% cuts in provincial child-care programs. Baird initially declined to comment on the document's contents, but rejected its proposals in early 2002.

Baird was the first cabinet minister to support Jim Flaherty's campaign to succeed Mike Harris as Progressive Conservative Party leader in the party's 2002 leadership election. The election was won by Flaherty's rival Ernie Eves, and early media reports suggested that Baird might be dropped from the new premier's cabinet in April 2002. He was not, but was demoted to the position of Chief Government Whip while remaining associate minister for Francophone Affairs. His replacement in Social Services was Brenda Elliott, who was from the more centrist wing of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Baird was returned to a more prominent cabinet position in August 2002 after Eves separated the ministries of Environment and Energy and appointed Baird to head the latter department. Baird was given additional responsibilities as Government House Leader in June 2003 after Chris Stockwell was forced to resign following allegations that he had used government funds for a family vacation.

As Energy Minister, Baird was initially entrusted with implementing the government's plan to sell off part of Ontario's Hydro One. A few months later, he became unexpectedly involved in two major and interrelated policy reversals. The Energy ministry came under intense media scrutiny in late 2002 after hydro rates increased significantly in many parts of the province. Critics argued that the Progressive Conservative government's price deregulation policy (implemented before Baird became Energy Minister) was responsible. Baird suggested that the rate increases resulted from an unusually hot summer. Rates remained high through the autumn, and the Eves government was forced to re-regulate the market in November by introducing a price cap. The government continued to support deregulation in principle, but maintained the cap for the remainder of its term in office. The second and more fundamental reversal occurred in late January 2003, when Premier Eves personally announced that Hydro One would remain under public control.

Baird was regarded as less combative as Energy Minister than he had been in Community and Social Services. The energy policies of the Eves government were controversial, but opposition criticism was often directed at the premier rather than at Baird. Eves took a prominent interest in the Energy portfolio, and sometimes relegated Baird to a secondary role in policy announcements. In November 2002, however, he was followed around the province by "Hydrozilla", a man in a giant lizard suit sent by the NDP as a stunt to show that deregulating electricity rates would create an economic monster for consumers. In early March 2003, Baird announced that the government might be forced to implement rolling blackouts as a response to energy shortages. He encouraged conservation in late summer 2003, following a province-wide blackout caused by a generator failure in the United States.

Baird co-chaired Jim Flaherty's second campaign to lead the Progressive Conservative party in the 2004. Flaherty was again unsuccessful, losing on the second ballot to the more centrist John Tory. Both Baird and Flaherty left provincial politics in 2005 to campaign for the federal House of Commons. Although Baird was generally on the right-wing of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party, he expressed liberal views on some social issues. He supported same-sex marriage during the 2003 provincial election and, in 2005, helped the McGuinty government achieve quick passage of a provincial bill granting legal recognition to same-sex couples. Some Progressive Conservative MPPs openly criticized Baird on the latter occasion.

Baird supported a Canadian Alliance candidate in the 2000 federal election, and later endorsed Stephen Harper's bid to lead the newly-formed Conservative Party of Canada in its 2004 leadership election. He was subsequently appointed as the Conservative Party's Ontario co-chair for the 2004 federal election. There were rumours that Baird would leave provincial politics to contest the 2004 election, but this did not happen. In 2005, he resigned his provincial seat to campaign federally for the Conservative Party.

Baird won a contested nomination battle for Ottawa West—Nepean Conservative nomination on May 5, 2005, defeating challengers Ed Mahfouz, Margret Kopala and Ade Olumide. John Pacheco, a leader in the social conservative movement against same-sex marriage, had also sought the nomination but was disqualified due to past comments he had made alleging that homosexual practices posed a health risk. Pacheco later campaigned in the election as an "Independent conservative," with the specific intent of being a spoiler against Baird. He argued that if his campaign caused Baird to lose, the Conservatives would "get the message that social conservatives are serious about their politics." Baird chose to ignore Pacheco entirely in at least one all-candidates debate.

Baird was elected, defeating Liberal candidate Lee Farnworth by about 5,000 votes. The Ottawa Citizen endorsed Baird in this campaign, and argued that his political judgment had improved considerably since his tenure as a Harris cabinet minister. In December 2006, Baird was one of thirteen Conservative MPs who voted against reopening the national debate on same-sex marriage.

Baird has played an aggressive role in Question Period since his appointment to cabinet, leading MP Garth Turner to describe him as Stephen Harper's "Commons pit bull".

Baird was appointed President of the Treasury Board on February 6, 2006, a position that placed him in charge of the federal public service. Following his appointment, Baird said that one of his priorities would be to prevent government jobs from being relocated from Ottawa to other regions for political purposes. He also indicated that his government was not planning to introduce job cuts or initiate a radical reduction in the size of government. In June 2006, Baird announced the creation of a three-member panel to advise the federal government on grant and contribution programs and accountability issues. One of the members was Frances Lankin, a former New Democratic Party of Ontario cabinet minister.

Baird introduced the Conservative government's first piece of legislation in April 2006. Known as the "Accountability Act," the bill includes 317 sections and promised significant reform to the structure of Canadian politics and government. Prime Minister Harper said that it would "put an end to the influence of money" in the Canadian government. The Accountability Act claims to restrict the ability of former politicians and bureaucrats to become lobbyists, provides protection to whistle-blowers in the civil service and gives the Auditor General of Canada new powers of oversight. It also limits individual donations to political parties and candidates to $1,100 per year (down from $5,200), creates nine new or revised positions to oversee the activities of public officials and places crown corporations such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation under access-to-information legislation.

Opposition MPs complained that several recommendations for access-to-information reform were left out of the bill, and were instead sent to committee for further review. New Democratic Party MP Pat Martin initially suggested that this deferral could delay meaningful reform for the foreseeable future. Martin later made a deal with Baird to give the bill an easy passage through committee, in return for the Conservatives accepting some NDP amendments.

Information Commissioner John Reid has criticized the new proposed powers for his department under the legislation, arguing that they will create unnecessary bureaucracy. Shortly after the Accountability Act was introduced to parliament, Reid issued an emergency report saying that the legislation would "increase the government's ability to cover up wrongdoing, shield itself from embarrassment and control the flow of information to Canadians". He added that no government had ever put forward "a more retrograde and dangerous" set of proposals for dealing with access to information laws. Baird described Reid's criticisms as "excessive," saying that most of the commissioner's specific concerns were minor in nature. Representatives of Canada's business community also expressed concern about changes to disclosure laws, arguing that their commercial secrets could be exposed to competitors.

The bill passed the House of Commons on division in June 2006. The Canadian Senate approved it in December 2006, with several amendments, and sent it back to the Commons for further consideration. The amended act was approved by the Commons without debate on 8 December, and was signed into law four days later.

Shortly after the bill first passed the Commons, Baird acknowledged that the Conservatives may have unintentionally broken political financing laws by failing to report convention fees collected in 2005. He told a Senate committee that $1.7 million was left unreported and that he did not realize it was an issue at the time. The matter is currently under review by the Chief Electoral Officer. The Conservatives quietly tabled an amendment to the Accountability Act in November 2006, stipulating that convention fees will not be counted as political contributions.

In early October 2006, Baird's department reviewed a promised $200 million grant to the City of Ottawa's light-rail expansion project. Baird indicated that the government would keep the funding at least until the November election, but added that the Council elected in November will have the final say on the issue. He also leaked details of the city's contact with the German firm Siemens. As a result, the rail program became a focal issue in the 2006 Ottawa mayoral election and Baird's opponents accused him of trying to influence the outcome. Baird and Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli accused one another of lying about details of the project, and Liberal MP Navdeep Bains asked the Federal Ethics Commissioner to investigate Baird's decision to release details of the private contract. Chiarelli was defeated in the election and the light-rail expansion was stopped by the new council.

An Ottawa Citizen report in January 2007 revealed that federal officials had not posed any objections to the light-rail project before Baird's intervention, and suggested that his involvement was political in nature. Green Party leader Elizabeth May speculated that Ottawa may have been deprived of light-rail service because of an apparent "personal vendetta" from Baird against Chiarelli. Baird denied this charge, saying that his intervention was not political. Opponents of the light-rail project have argued that it was undertaken without sufficient consultation with the public. In February 2008, it was reported that the House of Commons committee on government operations will be looking into his involvement over the case. MP and committee member Mark Holland mentioned a concern that Baird leaked information on the contract. Baird mentioned that he made the right decision and dismissed the investigation saying "there is no evidence of anything". Speaking to reporters he added following the announcement of the investigation: "If you want to avert a billion-dollar boondoggle, you have to make some difficult decisions".

Baird holds ministerial responsibilities for the Toronto Harbourfront Centre and the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation. He developed a working relationship with Toronto Mayor David Miller soon after his appointment, and was present for the announcement of a comprehensive new waterfront strategy in June 2006. Ontario cabinet minister David Caplan has described Baird as a champion of waterfront renewal and David Miller has described him as an ally of the city. Baird spent Christmas 2006 meeting with Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

On January 4, 2007, Baird was appointed as Environment Minister in a cabinet shuffle, replacing previous Minister Rona Ambrose. In making the appointment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledged that his government needed to do more to make the environment a priority. Some commentators remarked favourably on Baird's appointment, describing him as a strong communicator and negotiator. Columnist Andrew Coyne, however, described Baird as "the man sent to kill the issue," suggesting that Baird's appointment was meant to neutralize the environment as an election issue rather than to initiate any meaningful reforms. Baird is a vocal opponent of the Kyoto Protocol, which he argues will bring about an "economic collapse". Later in 2007, he added that any new environmental agreements must included reduction targets for major greenhouse emitters such as China, India and the United States who have not signed the Protocol or does not have any mandatory reductions set by the Protocol. Baird met with renowned Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki following his appointment. At the time, Suzuki said he was encouraged by Baird's approach, but remained skeptical of the Harper government's environmental plans. However, when Baird unveiled the Conservative government's plan in April, 2007, Suzuki confronted Baird, calling the plan "a disappointment".

In February 2007, the Liberal opposition brought forward a non-binding motion for Canada to renew its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. All Conservative MPs who were present in the House, including Baird, voted against the motion, which passed with the support of the three opposition parties. The following month, opposition members on a special Commons committee used their majority to bring forward sweeping changes to the government's Clean Air Act. Among other things, the revised act called for participation in international carbon markets and the fulfillment of Kyoto targets. Baird indicated that the opposition's changes would not be included in federal targets or regulations.

In April 2007, Baird produced a federal study supported by five independent economists to support his approach to the Kyoto Protocol. Among the five economists was Toronto-Dominion Bank chief economist Don Drummond, who also wrote a private letter to Baird arguing that the "economic cost would be at least as deep as the recession in the early 1980s." Opposition parliamentarians dismissed the report as a scare tactic, while Liberal Environment Critic David McGuinty argued that the study was misleading, saying that it did not properly examine international emission trading and ignored jobs to be created through the "green economy". The report misrepresented Canada's ability to invest in developing nations to meet emissions targets through CDM by misquoting the amount of credit to be 85 million instead of the real approximation of 3 billion. Soon after, a United Nations report also contradicted the study mentioning that "steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions can be accomplished at a cost of only 0.12 per cent of the world's annual economic output" but Baird responded that Canada will have its gas emissions levels peaked in 2012 three years before the UN's set target of 2015.

Baird was the Harper government's representative at the release of a major United Nations report on climate change in Paris in February 2007. He described the report as a "turning point in the battle against climate change," while indicating his surprise that human activity was found to be a major cause of the phenomenon.

Baird released his government's targets for greenhouse gas emissions in late April 2007. The plan calls for Canada to begin cutting its existing rate of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 and for cuts to reach 20% by 2020. Under this plan, Canada will reach its Kyoto targets between 2020 and 2025, taking an additional eight to thirteen years longer than Kyoto. The government plan uses production intensity targets instead of hard caps. Baird said that the "plan strikes a balance between the perfection some environmentalists may be seeking and the status quo that some in industry seek to protect." Later in December 2007, Baird revealed in a plan that over 700 big-polluter companies, including oil and gas, pulp and paper, electricity and iron and steel companies, must cut greenhouse emissions by six percent from 2008 to 2010 The companies would also have to produce an annual report every May 31st that would include data regarding the level of greenhouses emissions produced each year. Baird's proposal has been met with approval from Canada's oilpatch executives, who described them as the toughest emission regulations in the world, and who feared that more stringent standards would stifle oil sands exploration. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has been considerably less critical than his brother, having earlier written to Prime Minister Harper on the environmental policy. The Premier had stressed the importance of a policy that considered the North American market as a whole, due to the automotive industry's importance to his province. McGuinty said the Conservatives' environmental plan could have gone further but described the auto emissions part of the plan as "very sensible".

Members of opposition parties have criticized the government's abandonment of Kyoto goals, while David Suzuki described the proposal as a "sham" with "weak targets". Former US vice president Al Gore said Baird's plan was a "complete and total fraud" that was "designed to mislead the Canadian people". Baird responded by defending his plan and by criticizing Gore's environmental record, noting that no similarly stringent measures were passed during Gore's tenure in office and that the Kyoto Treaty was never submitted to the US Senate for ratification. The Liberal Party, led by MP Pablo Rodriguez, introduced to the House of Commons a private bill that would have forced Canada to comply to the Kyoto Treaty in response to the government's plan. While the bill passed Baird mentioned that, even though that the government wouldn't dismiss it, there was no new environmental measures planned. All three opposition parties have demanded that the environment becomes one of the main points of the government's Throne Speech in the 2007 fall session.

Shortly after his appointment, Baird, Stephen Harper and Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn announced $1.5 billion for clean-energy initiatives over the next decade. Baird and Lunn also announced a $230 million program for clean energy technology. Lunn said that "there were literally hundreds of programs but there was no focus" when the Conservatives took office. Critics argued that the new Conservative measures were similar to measures introduced by the Liberals in their 2005 budget. Liberal leader Stéphane Dion has argued that the Conservative Party's strategy is too strongly focused on nuclear energy.

On 12 February 2007, Baird appeared at a press conference with Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest to announce a $1.5 billion environmental fund for the provinces. Journalist Frances Russell criticized that as a reduction from the $3 billion promised by the previous Liberal government.

Canada is a signatory to the Kyoto protocol which legally requires signatory countries to set up compatible carbon trading markets. In direct defiance of this international legal obligation, in March 2007, Baird indicated that he wanted Canadian companies to be banned, or at least severely restricted, from participating in the international carbon market. Several European countries have already set up a trading system to allow companies that reduce their emission levels below government targets to sell "credits" on an international market. Environmentalists. Many industry leaders argued that Canada should adopt a similar policy. Then opposition leader Stéphane Dion argued that participation will allow Canadian firms to make "megatonnes of money". Baird however described some carbon markets as "shaky," and argued that trade should be restricted to within Canada, or perhaps within North America. In April, he indicated that Canadian businesses would soon gain the right to earn credits by investing in overseas environmental projects. Baird's attitudes to carbon markets confused (and later directly contradicted) the government's own stated position to support the development of markets that were compatible with all its trading partners.

Baird defended another Conservative government decision to cut funds for climate science research, arguing that further studies are largely superfluous in light of recent United Nations reports. Gordon McBean of the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences has disagreed, claiming that further research is the best way to adapt to a changing climate.

While participating at the United Nations Summit On Climate Changes in Bali, Indonesia, Baird announced a $86 million funding to help Canadian communities notably coping with the lost of forests due to pine beetles in the west and infrastructures in the north due to softer soil. The 4-year plan included $56 million on several projects and $29 million for researches.

Baird's performance overall was profoundly criticized, including receiving a "fossil award" from attending NGOs, and prompting an unusually angry condemnation by the representative from Bangaladesh, a nation very threatened by climate change related disease and flooding. He did not mention Baird by name but clearly implied that Canada, the US and Australia conspired to cause immense harm to his people and country by inaction, inexcusable in richer countries.

Canadian NGOs also uniformly condemned Baird's position, that of the government, that serious limitations on greenhouse gases would have to include China, India and other emerging nations before the richer nations that had already undergone most of their development would begin to reduce greenhouse gases. This condition directly contradicted Kyoto's explicit condition that developed nations should be willing to start first and pay up to fifteen times more per person to prevent climate change, given that they had benefitted from centuries of free atmospheric access and could not impose charges for dumping in that same atmosphere on emerging countries.

In November 2008 Baird was replaced in the Environment portfolio by Jim Prentice and moved to Minister of Transport.

In late November and early December 2008, a website went online allegedly representing a movement to draft Baird for leader of the Conservative Party, in the face of Stephen Harper facing possible defeat by an opposition coalition.

The draft group allegedly comprises over 100 party members from across the country — including two MPs and one Senator (who have requested anonymity). Since launching the Draft John Baird campaign site in early December, the campaign says it had nearly 3,000 visitors and 237 new supporters in less than ten hours.

In December, 2008, the Government of Canada was faced with the threat that a coalition of opposition parties would vote against the budget, displaying a lack of confidence in the Government of Canada, and possibly resulting in a dissolution of Parliament. To save itself from defeat, one option was for the Government of Canada to request that the Governor General of Canada, the Canadian Monarch's representative, prorogue Parliament. In that context, John Baird announced that the Government of Canada wanted to exercise a more extreme option to "... go over the heads of the members of Parliament; go over the heads, frankly, of the Governor General; go right to the Canadian people." The interviewer, Don Newman, countered Baird's views with the view that "...in a British Parliamentary system, it is only legitimate for the government to be the government if it can sustain support in the house of commons." In the end, neither Baird nor the Conservative Government needed to go "over the heads ... of the Governor General" since, after consulting with the Prime Minister for more than two hours December 4, 2008, the Governor General granted Prime Minister Harper's request for prorogation. Parliament was prorogued until January 26, 2009 by an act of the Canadian Monarch, saving the Government from a possible defeat by elected representatives.

All electoral information taken from Elections Canada and Elections Ontario. Italicized expenditures refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available.

The 1999 and 2003 expenditure entries are taken from official candidate reports as listed by Elections Ontario. The figures cited are the Total Candidate's Campaign Expenses Subject to Limitation, and include transfers from constituency associations.

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Source : Wikipedia