Published on October 18, 2015

With the Canadian national election fast approaching, below is a timeline of some of the major scandals that have plagued Stephen Harper's tenure as prime minister of Canada, gathered from various news sources. Whether Monday brings victory or loss for Harper, his legacy will be a dramatically more conservative Canada.

Conservatives dodge campaign ad spending limits

National Post

Newly released documents show taxpayers spent more than $2.3 million on an investigation and five-year legal battle with the Conservative Party over the "in-and-out" affair. Elections Canada accused the party of conducting a series of wire transfers involving $1.3 million in campaign advertising costs in order to dodge legal limits on ad spending.

Read more 2006

Harper arranges Parliament suspension to avoid toppling of his minority government


Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has granted a request from Prime Minister Stephen Harper to suspend Parliament until late next month, a move that avoids a confidence vote set for Monday that could have toppled his minority government.

Read more Dec 4, 2008

Controversy amid alleged Afghan prison torture


Controversy erupted in Canada surrounding allegations that the Canadian government was complicit in allowing the Afghanistan authorities to torture prisoners.

Read more 2001 – 2011

PM shuts down Parliament in wake of torture controversy


Amid controversy over the Afghan detainees affair, the Conservative government announced it would shut down Parliament for two months, until after the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Read more Dec 30, 2009

Harper limits journalists to five questions per day

The Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told journalists traveling on his campaign tour that he will only answer five questions a day. When asked why he was limiting questions from media, Harper declined to comment, saying only "If there's another subject, I'll answer it."

Read more April 15, 2011

Conservative staffer jailed for voter suppression scheme


Conservative party staffer Michael Sona was found guilty of orchestrating a misleading robocall that was sent to thousands of voters in Guelph in an effort to suppress Liberal votes. The call claimed polling stations in the area had been changed, and 150–200 people reportedly went to wrong locations.

Read more May 2, 2011

Canada abandons Kyoto Protocol on climate change

The Globe and Mail

Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, abandoning the world’s only legally binding plan to tackle global warming. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made no secret of his disdain for the Kyoto Protocol, arguing that a legally binding deal that fails to include the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters – China and the United States – would hurt Canada’s competitiveness and prove ineffective at reducing global emissions.

Read more Dec 12, 2011

Senators' fraudulent allowance expenses

The National

Several Canadian senators claimed travel and living allowance expenses from the Senate for which they were not eligible.

Watch video 2012

F-35 fighter jet cost fiasco

Global News

Canada’s potential purchase of F-35 fighter jets sparked debate over whether the jets were worth the price, $10 billion more than was advertised, and whether their capabilities had been exaggerated to the public. Amid the controversy, Liberal Leader Bob Rae called for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s resignation.

Watch video April 4, 2012

Harper intimidates charities into silence

Toronto Star

The Conservative government, angered that environmentalists were tying up pipeline projects in the West, tightened the regulation of charities. If a charity steps over the line between good works and political activity — for example, by pointing out the link between poverty and government austerity — the government can revoke their charitable status.

Read more 2012

David Suzuki steps down to avoid government repercussions to charity

Look to the Stars

Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki has stepped down from the board of directors of the David Suzuki Foundation, stating he wants to continue speaking out about issues without damaging the organization's charitable status. Suzuki says, "...governments, industries and special interest groups … use threats to the foundation's charitable status in attempts to mute its powerful voice..."

Read more April 13, 2012

Harper government muzzles voices of scientists


Scientists protest severe and targeted cutbacks on government research programs and new rules limiting the ability of government scientists to talk to journalists.

Read more July 2012

Big Oil influences government to gut environmental policy

Polaris Institute

Six main oil industry players, including Enbridge and TransCanada, met with federal cabinet ministers 53 times between September 2011 and September 2012, the period when the business-friendly Bill C-38 – which guts environmental legislation - was being designed.

Read more Dec 4, 2012

Canada fails 2020 emissions targets


According to a new report and internal government analysis obtained by CBC News, Canada will fail to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reductions targets under the Copenhagen Accord, even with more regulation of the oil and gas sector.

Read more Oct 24, 2013

Canada dead last in ranking for environmental protection

The Globe and Mail

Canada has fallen behind in a global ranking on international development initiatives and ranks last when it comes to environmental protection. A report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development said Canada "has the dubious honor of being the only CDI country with an environment score which has gone down since we first calculated the CDI [in 2003]."

Read more Nov 18, 2013

Canadian government spends millions on secret tar sands advocacy

The Guardian

Documents reveal that Canada’s Conservative government spent several million dollars on a tar sands advocacy fund as its push to export the oil faltered. In its 2013 budget, the government invested $30 million over two years on public relations advertising and domestic and international "outreach activities" to promote Alberta’s tar sands.

Read more 2013

Government favours infrastructure projects to Conservative ridings

The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail reports that the Canadian federal government has funnelled 83% of the projects under its signature infrastructure fund to Conservative-held ridings.

Read more 2012 – 2014

Conservative government slashes budget and resources for climate change research


The Canadian federal government cut funding to hundreds of renowned research institutes, including programs surrounding smoke stack emissions, food inspections, oil spills, water quality and climate change. Scientists denounce what they call a politically-driven war on knowledge.

Watch video Jan 10, 2014

Second class citizenship in effect in Canada


Last Friday, part of Bill C-24 went into effect, officially creating a two-tier citizenship system. As a result of this new law, dual citizens and people who have immigrated to Canada can have their citizenship taken away while other Canadians cannot.

Read more June 3, 2015

Prime Minister's Office organizes fake protest of Trudeau

Huffington Post

Conservative party interns and staff mocked Liberal leader Justin Trudeau during a open-air news conference on June 5. Huffington Post reports that the fake protest was organized by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Read more June 5, 2015

Controversial anti-terrorism policy becomes law


Bill C-51, the Conservatives' anti-terror legislation, received royal assent Thursday afternoon and is now law. The bill has faced intense scrutiny for the expanded powers it gives the police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Opponents argue the bill's wording is too vague, which could lead to dangerous and unlawful measures.

Read more Jun 18, 2015

Conservative staffer jailed for election overspending


Former parliamentary secretary to the prime minister and Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro has been found guilty of breaking the law by overspending during the 2008 federal election. The former MP will spend one month in prison and 4 months under house arrest.

Read more Jun 25, 2015

Canada's spy agency allegedly monitors environmental activists

Globe and Mail

In a hearing investigating allegations that Canada’s spy agency kept tabs on environmental groups in an effort to suss out their anti-pipeline activities, a lawyer representing the groups was forbidden from discussing anything that took place. The hearing, which was closed to the public and media, was tasked with determining whether the Canadian Security Intelligence Service crossed the legal line in eyeing anti-pipeline activists.

Read more August 14, 2015

Ahead of election, Conservative government distracts the country with niqab

Huffington Post & AJ+

The niqab debate – surrounding the wearing of face veils during citizenship ceremonies – has dominated parts of the 2015 Canadian election. Liberal Leader Trudeau said it was clear the issue was being raised by politicians who lack plans for economic growth, accusing Prime Minister Harper of seeking to "distract" attention from his record. A recent report shows only two women have refused the oath of citizenship because of rules demanding their faces be uncovered. AJ+ covers Niqab debate in this video.

Read more Sep 2015

Claims of discriminatory treatment of refugees

The Globe and Mail

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper says his government prioritizes vulnerable religious and ethnic groups for refugee processing because they are being targeted by Islamic State for "extermination." Critics accuse him of crafting a discriminatory policy, offering preferential treatment to Christians and minorities and not to Muslims.

Read more Oct 2015