Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to supporters at his federal election night headquarters in Calgary, Alberta, May 2, 2011
Credits: REUTERS/Andy Clark
OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper blew out candles this week to mark his 53rd birthday. Wednesday, he gets to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his first majority Conservative government.
And what a year it's been - from erratic ministers and stealth fighter procurement headaches and ramming through an omnibus crime bill to ditching the long-gun registry and burying the Canadian Wheat Board.
While one opposition party mourned the death of its leader and the other the wounding of its brand and both accused the Conservatives of cheating to win last year's vote, Harper pushed through his agenda with ease and controversy.
And fights were picked along the way.
He defied organized labour with back-to-work bills, trimmed the bureaucracy in his government's recent budget, sped up the review process for energy projects
and rewrote eligibility requirements to collect Old Age Security - issues still stirring unrest and anger among environmentalists and opposition MPs.
He had Canadian fighters bomb Libya at the same time Canada's military was retreating from its combat role in Afghanistan.
The economy was always front and centre for the Harper government - from pushing the Keystone XL pipeline to the Gulf Coast and another pipeline to the Pacific to wooing new trade opportunities in Asia for Alberta crude.
He changed the funding formula for health transfers to the provinces.
The last year was marred by problems and stand downs - from the housing crisis on a James Bay aboriginal reserve to an Internet snooping crime bill that's collecting dust somewhere on Parliament Hill.
The F-35 fighter jet procurement still dogs a communications-challenged government and will do so for months more. The $33-billion navy and coast guard shipbuilding procurement went off smoothly.
Convicted killer Omar Khadr's imminent return is something the Conservatives want no part of but will have to face head-on, like it or not.
Harper also had to contend with the judgment of some on his front bench. Bev Oda's champagne tastes, Christian Paradis' ethical lapses and Peter MacKay's rides in military toys and ministerial oversight of the F-35 procurement have tongues wagging about a summer cabinet shuffle.