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January 2006
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Stephen Harper’s conservatives win in Canada

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadians elected their first Conservative government in 12 years, but gave it only a limited minority mandate to change policies and priorities.

Harper is the guy who promised to get tougher on drugs.

Asked why he would saddle a student who is caught with a small amount of the substance with a criminal record, Mr. Harper said “we believe we have to send a message” that these types of activities are unacceptable. In his talks with people who have become addicted to harder drugs, he said, they almost always say they started with marijuana.

But as reader Ben Heumann commented at the time:

The Federal government in Canada is much weaker that the Federal government in the US in comparison to provinces and states respectively. Although Mr. Harper may want to further criminalize pot, the provinces don’t and won’t, leaving Mr. Harper with nothing but talk.

That, along with the limited mandate should serve to give Harper little power.

Minority governments in Canada rarely last longer than 18 months. The outgoing minority Liberal government stayed in power for 17 months before it was defeated in November 2005 over a kickback scandal.
Unlike the Liberals, who governed with the help of the New Democrats, the Conservatives have no natural allies in a four-party Canadian Parliament and will need the support of political rivals on an issue-by-issue basis.

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