Conservative Party of Canada, French Parti Conservateur du Canada, conservative Canadian political party. The party was formed in 2003 by the merger of the Canadian Alliance along with also the Progressive Conservative Party. The idea for a merger of Canada’s main conservative parties arose in the 1990s when national support for the Progressive Conservatives dwindled and the Reform Party (later the Canadian Alliance) was not able to expand its federal support beyond its foundation in western Canada.
Observing the third successive election victory of the Liberal Party of Canada in 2000, support for launching a united conservative party improved, and in December 2003 more than 90 percent of those members of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives endorsed a merger. The Conservative Party of Canada was officially registered with Elections Canada (an independent agency created by the Canadian Parliament to govern elections and political parties) on December 8, 2003.
In 2004, in its initial federal general election, the party won almost 30 percent of their vote along with 99 seats in the House of Commons, emerging as the official opposition to a Liberal minority government. In the following election of January 2006, the Conservatives were chosen to lead a minority government, and their chief, Stephen Harper, became prime minister. Harper proved proficient at coalition building, and in November 2006 he co-opted members of the resistance Bloc Québécois using a motion that recognized the distinct national identity of the Québécois people while still claiming Quebec’s location in a united Canada.
Hoping to build on those gains, Harper predicted early federal elections for October 2008, but the Conservatives failed to gain a parliamentary majority, however they included 19 chairs for their 2006 election results, reaching a total of 143 seats and remaining a minority government. Conservative stock climbed as Canada ably weathered the global economic recession that started in 2007 but failed to release budgetary information to Parliament led to the party’s being located in contempt in March 2011.
In response, Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff sponsored a no-confidence vote which brought down the Harper government. In the federal election held on May 2, 2011, however, the Conservatives captured 166 seats (up 23 from 2008), allowing Harper to win a clear majority for the first time in his prime ministership.
In August 2015 Harper called for an election. For much of the campaign, it was a close three-way race, however, when Republicans went to the surveys, they gave the Liberal Party 184 seats, enough for this to form a majority government. Rona Ambrose, an MP for the Alberta riding, subsequently served as interim party leader until May 2017, when Andrew Scheer, an MP from Saskatchewan, was elected leader. Scheer led the party to the 2019 national election, where it gained a narrow victory in the vote but did not win enough seats to wrest power from the Liberals.
The party normally supports conservative social and economic policies, a strong federal system of government, and also the usage of Canada’s armed forces in international peacekeeping missions.