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Harper's first 100 days

[PoliticsWatch posted 2:30 p.m. May 15, 2006]

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his trip to Afghanistan was among the highlights of his first 100 days in office. 

OTTAWA  — Tuesday will mark the 100th day since the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Tories were sworn into power after 12 years in opposition. 
In interviews last week, Harper said the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. and his trip to Afghanistan were among the highlights. 

"I got great inspiration from our troops and how committed they are to their mission, to their country and to helping the Afghan people," Harper told the Calgary Sun.

"They're really working hard, they're thrilled, in spite of all of the danger -- and in some cases, maybe because of the danger -- it was just a great experience." 

But Harper's brief time in office so far has also been controversial with clashes with the media, ethics probes, resignations, and even investigations. 

"In just 100 days, a disturbing picture has been formed of this prime minister and his government, one that Canadians should be deeply concerned about," said interim Liberal leader Bill Graham in a statement.

"It is a picture of a prime minister who is so politically opportunistic that he consistently turns his back on his own promises of ethics and accountability and chooses vote-buying measures over sound policies that are in the best interest of the country."

Here's a chronology of Harper's first 100 days. 

Day 1: February 6: Harper and his cabinet are sworn in at Rideau Hall. Among the surprises is the inclusion of former Liberal David Emerson as trade minister and the appointment of Tory fundraiser Michael Fortier to the Senate and in cabinet. 

Day 3: February 8: Controversy around Emerson's appointment continues and PoliticsWatch reports on Emerson's recusal letter that could limit his involvement in the softwood lumber talks because of a pension he has with a lumber company named in the dispute.

Day 4: February 9: Cracks in Tory unity appear as two MPs -- Garth Turner and Myron Thompson -- both say Emerson should run in a by-election as a Conservative. 

Day 9: February 14: With worldwide violence spreading over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Harper releases a statement in which he expresses regret over Canadian publications running the cartoons. Muslim leaders would later praise Harper for his position. 

Day 10: February 15: Former prime minister Paul Martin weighs in on Harper's controversial appointment of Emerson, and accused Harper of hiding from the media to confront questions about the defection. 

Day 11: February 16: Harper names former Mulroney cabinet minister Michael Wilson Canada's ambassador to the U.S.

Day 15: February 20: Harper announces that his Supreme Court nominee will be the first to go through a preliminary interview before a Parliamentary committee. 

Day 15: February 20: Facing bad publicity over the Emerson floor-crossing, Harper replaces communication director William Stairs with Sandra Buckler. 

Day 16: February 21: Harper names Kevin Lynch the new Clerk of the Privy Council. 

Day 18: February 23: Harper announces that Justice Marshall Rothstein is his nominee for the Supreme Court. 

Day 22: February 27: Justice Marshall Rothstein receives praise from MPs from all parties following his appearance before a parliamentary committee. Cable news channels carried the meeting with Rothstein live for an entire afternoon. 

Day 24: March 1: Harper formally announces Rothstein's appointment to the Supreme Court

Day 25: March 2: A Canadian soldier is killed and six injured following a traffic accident in Afghanistan. 

Day 26: March 3: Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro stuns Ottawa when he announces he is launching a preliminary inquiry into the Emerson defection. The PMO instantly fight backs and accuses Shapiro of being a Liberal appointee who the PM would be loath to cooperate with.

Day 30: March 7: Harper tells reporters that the ethics commissioner does not have the power to determine who a prime minister can or cannot name to cabinet. 

Day 31: March 8: The Parliamentary Press Gallery writes a letter to the PM's communication director complaining about recent media access restrictions coming from the PMO. 

Day 33: March 10: Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc asks the ethics commissioner to look at whether Emerson would be in a conflict of interest if he is involved in the softwood lumber negotiations with the U.S. Emerson has a pension with one of the companies named in the dispute. 

Day 35: March 12: Harper secretly flies to Afghanistan and overnights on a base with Canadian troops stationed in Kandahar. It is his first foreign visit. Harper's trip is seen as a public relations coup.

Day 40: March 17: The Globe and Mail reports on a leaked e-mail confirming the PMO's tightly controlled media strategy. 

Day 43: March 20: Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro clears the PM of any ethical wrongdoing in naming Emerson to cabinet. 

Day 44: March 21: Days before Parliament opens, Harper holds meetings with the leaders of the opposition parties. The Bloc and NDP are pleased with their meetings with the PM. 

Day 46: March 23: The PM confirms that Canadian forces were involved in the rescue of two Canadian aid workers held captive in Iraq since November. 

Day 50: March 27: Harper defends a new policy of not informing reporters in advance of cabinet meetings by saying it is a constitutional right for him. 

Day 52: March 29: Private Robert Costall is killed in a firefight with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. 

Day 53: March 30: Harper meets in Cancun, Mexico with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox. Bush praises Harper for his straightforward manner. 

Day 54: March 31: Colin Mayes, a rookie Tory MP from B.C., apologizes after writing a letter to a local newspaper suggesting journalists should be jailed for writing misleading stories. 

Day 57: April 3: The first Conservative-led Parliament in 13 years opens in Ottawa with Liberal MP Peter Milliken being elected speaker. 

Day 58: April 4: Harper's five priorities are given in detail in the throne speech read by Governor General Michaelle Jean. Noticeably absent from the speech are Tory promises for a vote on gay marriage and scrapping the gun registry. 

Day 59: April 5: Harper puts on a strong performance in question period, fielding most questions and cracking jokes during his first day in the House as PM. 

Day 65: April 11: Harper and Treasury Board President John Baird table the Federal Accountability Act, the centrepiece of the Conservatives' election campaign. Notable in the act is a new requirement for the position of ethics commissioner that would disqualify Bernard Shapiro. 

Day 72: April 18: In a rather brash move, Harper spends the first break week for Parliament travelling to four different cities and daring the opposition parties to defeat his government's child-care, crime and tax cut commitments. 

Day 75: April 21: Harper names a Tory fundraiser, Gwyn Morgan, as the first person to head Public Appointments Commission. 

Day 76: April 22: Four Canadian soldiers are killed in an attack in Afghanistan. The soldiers' death would play heavily in Ottawa forcing the government to defend its policy of not lower the flag on the Peace Tower and prompting the government to bar reporters from covering arrival of the deceased soldiers at Canadian bases. 

Day 79: April 24: Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announces he will table the first Tory budget on May 2. 

Day 80: April 25: Harper attends a Holocaust memorial on Parliament Hill while rumours spread around Ottawa about a possible breakthrough in softwood lumber talks. 

Day 82: April 27: Harper announces in the House of Commons that the three major lumber producing provinces are onside with a negotiating framework with the U.S. to end the long-running softwood lumber dispute. It is viewed as another victory for the Harper government, but critics say Canada gave the U.S. too much. 

Day 85: May 1: Harper announces in the House the launch of an inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing. 

Day 86: May 2: The Conservatives table a budget with few surprises and a one-per-cent cut in the GST. The Bloc Quebecois says it will support the budget, guaranteeing the government will not be defeated in a confidence vote.

Day 89: May 5: Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest sign an agreement guaranteeing Quebec a role at UNESCO.

Day 94: May 10: Tory MP Maurice Vellacott avoids certain defeat in a vote of non-confidence and resigns as chair of the aboriginal affairs committee for comments he made about judges believing they have God-like powers. Vellacott becomes the Tory government's first political casualty. 

Day 94: May 10: The first vote on the Tory budget passes in the House of Commons. 

Day 96:  May 12: Harper's Parliamentary secretary, Jason Kenney, tells the House of Commons that the government is conducting an internal probe to determine who leaked details of an upcoming auditor general's report on the gun registry to the National Post. 

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