Harper’s centre-right Conservative party has been in power since 2006, and is campaigning for a rare fourth consecutive term. But polls suggest that it could well struggle to form another majority.
Most recent polls show the party slightly trailing the left-leaning New Democrats (NDP), led by Tom Mulcair, while the Liberals under Justin Trudeau are in third place.
In an announcement yesterday after asking the governor general David Johnston to dissolve parliament, Harper said the campaign – the longest since the 1870s – would give voters time to examine the parties’ manifestos.
“It’s an election about who will protect our economy in a period of ongoing global instability,” he said.
Canada’s economy has been badly affected by falling oil prices, a major export, and damaged Harper’s reputation as an economic manager. Opposition parties will argue the need to end Conservative fiscal austerity.