For nearly ten years, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper led Canada through the world’s most complex geopolitical, economic and security challenges as the country’s 22nd Prime Minister. During his tenure in the world’s top forums such as the G-7 and G-20, NATO, and the United Nations, Prime Minister Harper was known for a frank, assertive leadership style defined by principled diplomacy, disciplined economic policy, a strong stance on international peace and security, and passionate defence of freedom and human dignity.
Prime Minister Harper created the modern Conservative Party of Canada, won three successive national elections, and was the longest serving Conservative Prime Minister since Canada’s founding Prime Minister passed away in 1891. Under his watch, Canada emerged from the 2008 economic crisis faster and stronger than its peers. Among his many accomplishments in office, Prime Minister Harper brought federal taxes to their lowest level in 50 years, balanced the budget while making investments in health care and infrastructure, overhauled the criminal justice system, and expanded Canada’s international trade network tenfold. On the international stage Prime Minister Harper oversaw Canada’s involvement in a series of complex conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, and stood staunchly by besieged allies Israel and Ukraine. As the host leader of the 2010 G-20 summit in Toronto, and as an economist by training, Prime Minister Harper helped shape financial reform frameworks, implemented a sustainable approach to fiscal stimulus, and led the call for open markets and pragmatic, growth-oriented economic policy.
The world faces a daunting set of challenges to traditional pillars of political, economic and global security. Ungoverned spaces pose risks and defy intervention. Social media and modern communications technologies mobilize “the street”, but are then hijacked by anti-democratic forces. Western leaders face an expansionist Russia, an assertive China, the ongoing threat of terror and cybercrime, and populist challenges to trade and migration. In this enormously complex issue environment, what lessons must we learn from recent years, and how should policy responses evolve if we are to bolster global stability and avoid further risks to our economy and way of life?
Prime Minister Harper provides the unique perspective of a trained economist who spent ten years leading a G-7 government confronting the geopolitical realities and challenges of our time. Known for his thoughtful and frank analysis, Harper shares his insights on how the democratic world can re-establish leadership, tackle challenges to international peace and security, engage wary citizens tested by the realities of globalization, and confront the challenges to global order that threaten our economic future.
From his seat at the G-20 and G-7 tables, Prime Minister Harper dealt first hand with the global economic crisis in 2008. His government oversaw the delivery of rapid economic stimulus in coordination with the US and other G-20 partners. Simultaneously, Harper consistently warned of the stimulus trap; spiraling spending, structural deficits and the eventual and inevitable need for painful austerity. As Prime Minister, Harper delivered targeted, time limited stimulus and returned his country’s finances to balance on schedule. Canada came out of the 2008-09 global recession faster and stronger than any other developed country and has added more than a million full-time jobs since then.
Now, with ongoing global economic uncertainty and low growth for the foreseeable future, governments are once again turning to expansionary fiscal policy, though with insufficient regard for the consequences. How can governments and business leaders foster an economic environment that creates jobs and growth without succumbing to the stimulus trap? As a trained economist, and as a leader with first-hand experience dealing with the global recession, Prime Minister Harper draws on his unique experience in articulating how we can navigate the most pressing economic issues of our time without forsaking long-term economic sustainability.
During the course of his nearly ten years leading a G-7 economy, Prime Minister Harper worked to increase growth by aggressively expanding Canada’s free trade opportunities. With only 5 deals in 2006, by 2015 Harper’s government had concluded agreements with 46 countries, including the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement, securing Canada’s place within the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, and a range of bilateral agreements. But politics and rising protectionism increasingly threaten the conclusion of ambitious trade deals. Both Presidential candidates in the U.S. have stated their opposition to the TPP and even NAFTA, and Brexit raises new questions about securing barrier-free access to European markets. Not only are major multilateral negotiations stalled but advanced economies must also grapple with how to structure trading relationships, supply chains and labor pools with emerging economies and non-free market economies, such as China.
In a global economy dependent on highly integrated supply chains, only countries and businesses that understand and successfully navigate these challenges will be positioned for success. Many leaders talk about growing trade, but Prime Minister Harper brings the insight of a leader who personally negotiated trade deals to conclusion. This experience, combined with his broad insight into the geopolitical pressures that are shaping the global economy, allows Prime Minister Harper to offer a unique perspective to business leaders and policy makers on the future of global trading relationships.
Under Prime Minister Harper’s leadership Canada punched above its weight on foreign policy. His approach was marked by clarity, insight, and a willingness to act in concert with allies to protect the interests of the free world.
Some of Harper’s notable successes include:
- Supporting coordinated action against terrorism in Afghanistan, Libya and the Middle East, most recently through sending Canadian warplanes to bomb ISIS in Iraq and Syria and Canadian special forces to assist Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS on the ground.
- Being the first G7 Leader to call for Vladimir Putin’s removal from the G8, telling Putin in person to “get out of Ukraine” while offering Canadian military and technical support to the Ukrainian government, and urging the West not turn a blind eye to Putin’s illegal incursions.
- Reacting cautiously to the Arab Spring uprisings and their possible consequences, while others rushed to premature celebration.
- Staunchly supporting the state of Israel’s right to exist.
- Leading international efforts to support child and maternal health in the developing world, particularely through his launch of the Muskoka Initiative that secured nearly $11 billion in new funding.
A vocal defender of freedom and human dignity, Prime Minister Harper speaks with the clarity of a seasoned statesman on the international stage at a time of rising concern over waning western leadership. Drawing on years of personal experience at the tables of power, Prime Minister Harper offers his assessment of what the West is getting right, what we are getting wrong, and how business and policy leaders can best secure a path forward in a dangerous multi-polar world marked by conflicting value systems and geopolitical risk.