OTTAWA – Harper highs and lows. A timeline of noteworthy events during Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s five years in power:
Jan. 23, 2006: Harper’s Conservatives defeat Paul Martin’s Liberals to win minority government, taking 124 seats against 103 Liberals, 51 Bloc, 29 NDP and one independent.
March 13, 2006: During a speech in Kandahar, Harper pledges Canada won’t “cut and run” from Afghanistan.
May 17, 2006: House of Commons votes to extend Afghanistan military mission for two years.
July 1, 2006: Conservatives lower GST by one percentage point, to six per cent, fulfilling a campaign promise.
Nov. 22, 2006: Quebecois formally declared a nation.
Dec. 12, 2006: Commons passes Conservatives’ Federal Accountability Act, which tightens political donation rules, provides for a parliamentary budget officer, and offers more protection for whistleblowers.
May 3, 2007: Commons passes Conservatives’ Fixed Election Dates Act, which provides for elections every four years unless a government is defeated in the Commons. Harper would ignore the law the following year.
Nov. 13, 2007: Harper announces that the government will call a public inquiry into dealings between former prime minister Brian Mulroney and disgraced businessman Karlheinz Schreiber.
Jan. 1, 2008: Conservatives move up second GST reduction and cut the tax by another percentage point, to five per cent.
Jan. 16, 2008: Government creates controversy by firing Linda Keen, head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Keen refused to bend to political pressure and approve a restart of the nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ont., which had been deemed unsafe.
Jan. 22, 2008: Commission led by John Manley recommends Canada stay on in Afghanistan under certain conditions, including a gradual switch to a training mission and the purchase of new equipment, including transport helicopters.
March 13, 2008: Commons extends Afghan mission to July 2011.
April 15, 2008: Elections Canada and RCMP raid Conservative party headquarters seeking documents on Tory election spending. It’s part of a long, legal battle between the party and the elections agency over interpretations of campaign financing rules.
June 11, 2008: Harper offers formal apology to natives for abuse in residential schools.
Sept. 7, 2008: Harper ignores his own fixed election date law and calls a vote for Oct. 14, saying Parliament has become dysfunctional.
Oct. 10, 2008: In a prediction that would soon come back to haunt him, Harper says: “This country will not go into recession next year and will lead the G7 countries.” The country promptly plunged into recession.
Oct. 14, 2008: Conservatives returned to office with a stronger minority of 143 seats. Liberals take 77, Bloc 49, NDP 37, and independents two.
Nov. 27, 2008: Fiscal update by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty proposes an end to per-vote subsidies for political parties, sparking opposition outrage. In the next few days, Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc agree to defeat the government in the Commons and replace it with a Liberal-NDP coalition, propped up by the Bloc.
Dec. 4, 2008: With a potentially fatal non-confidence vote looming, Harper asks the Governor General for permission to prorogue Parliament until Jan. 26, 2009. Permission is granted.
Jan. 27, 2009: New budget offers billions in stimulus money to fight recession, forecasts deficit of $33.7 billion, leaves political party subsidies untouched.
Sept. 9, 2009: In a fiscal update, Flaherty revises budget deficit to $55.9 billion.
Dec. 30, 2009: Harper again prorogues Parliament, saying the government wants to “recalibrate,” and consult people on the next stage of its economic plan.
April 9, 2010: Helena Guergis fired from her cabinet job as minister of state for the status of women and kicked from Tory caucus amid murky allegations about her husband’s business dealings. The RCMP subsequently finds no evidence of wrongdoing but Harper does not reinstate Guergis.
June 17, 2010: Government replaces mandatory long-census form with voluntary survey, provoking protests from opposition parties, economists, social agencies, religious bodies, municipalities and provinces.
June 26-27, 2010: Canada hosts G8 summit in Huntsville, Ont., and G20 summit in Toronto. Controversy rages over the huge cost of the weekend summits – more than $1 billion – and an indiscriminate police crackdown on peaceful protesters.
July 21, 2010: Munir Sheikh, head of Statistics Canada, resigns over the decision to kill the mandatory long-form census.
Oct. 12, 2010: Canada abandons its bid to win a seat on the UN Security Council after one round of voting. It’s the first time in 50 years Canada fails to win such an election.
Nov. 16, 2010: Harper says Canadian troops will stay on in Afghanistan past the 2011 deadline, but in a non-combat role.