The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada, currently led by Steven Harper is one of the oldest political party names in Canada, adopted again following the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in December 2003. The party currently forms the Harper Government in the House of Commons.

The merger to form the new Conservative Party of Canada was announced on October 16, 2003, by the two party leaders (Stephen Harper of the Canadian Alliance and Peter MacKay of the Progressive Conservatives), and was ratified by the membership of the Alliance on December 5 by a margin of 96% to 4%, and by delegates of the PC Party on December 6 by a margin of 90% to 10%. On December 8, 2003, the new Conservative Party of Canada was officially registered with Elections Canada. On March 20, 2004, Stephen Harper was elected the new party leader in a leadership election.

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 for the 2004 Canadian election, 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 is widely believed to have contributed to easy Liberal victories in the 1997 federal election and the 2000 election.

The party is still referred to as "Tory" by the media and retains the tie to the historical Conservative Party of Canada founded in 1854 by Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier by virtue of the fact that the merged entity assumed all assets and liabilities of the Progressive Conservative Party. Peter MacKay and many other high-profile former PCs, including Brian Mulroney see the CPC as a "natural evolution" of the conservative political movement in Canada. MacKay has suggested that the CPC is a reflection of the reunification of conservative ideologies under a "big tent." MacKay has often alluded to the historical fact that fractures have been a natural part of the Canadian conservative movement's history since the 1890's and that the merger was really a reconstitution of the movement.