- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 19, 2008

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is proof that fiscal conservatism works. In fact, he almost single-handedly revived the fortunes of a previously fragmented conservative movement. In elections held on Oct. 14, Canada’s Conservative Party won a second, consecutive minority government.

Canadian conservatism had its heyday in the 1980s under the leadership of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Yet in 1993 the Conservative Party suffered the worst electoral defeat in Canadian history-consigned to only two seats in the legislature. From the West, a populist Reform Party emerged - a movement that kept the right disunited for a decade. The Liberal Party won successive majorities in 1993, 1997 and 2000. In 2003, at last, the right reunited: With Mr. Harper’s leadership, in 2006, his party gained power with a minority government of 124 seats in a 308-member House of Commons. Now, Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have 143 seats - just 12 short of the majority they were aiming for.

For America, the triumph of Mr. Harper means that a staunch ally of the war on terror will remain in office. He has extended Canada’s mission in Afghanistan and has promised to keep Canadian troops there until 2011. Mr. Harper champions strong national defense and is a fervent advocate for American policies within NATO. His support is also necessary to protect America’s northern border from America’s enemies. It is reassuring to know that our Canadian neighbors are riding shotgun.

The Conservatives’ policy of fiscal restraint is paying dividends. Mr. Harper promised to keep spending and taxes under control - issues on which he has much credibility. He cut the national sales tax, personal taxes and corporate taxes. As a result, Mr. Harper is able to maintain his position while increasing his support-even in the midst of a global meltdown. The World Economic Forum rated Canada’s banking system as the strongest in the world. And indeed, a sound Canadian economy is good for America since Canada is our largest trading partner.

The opposition attempted to portray Mr. Harper as a Bush-type conservative - to no avail. Herein lies a lesson for American conservatives: The people know a fiscal conservative when they see one.



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