The Conservative Party, which supports policies similar to the Bush administration's, appeared unstoppable Wednesday as it surged in the polls only five days before Canadians elect a new government.
But Harper has largely kept his ultraconservative views to himself, and his handlers have successfully portrayed him as a moderate who will work for the middle class.
The BBC has 'frequently asked questions' about the election and predicts a Tory majority:
Who might win?
Opinion polls taken at the time the election was called suggested the Liberal Party was likely to return to office, although still as a minority government.
However, the Conservative Party has steadily gained momentum and support, and a recent opinion poll by the Strategic Counsel placed it 13 percentage points ahead of the Liberals.
If the surveys are correct, the CPC could head the government for the first time in more than 10 years, with a stable majority.
USA Today interviews a University of Toronto professor, Stephen Clarkson, who may or may not be behind those anti-American Liberal ads. In fact, his quote is uncanny in its similarity to those Liberal attack ads, suggesting a Harper win will put a smile on Bush's face:
Harper's platform is viewed as more in tandem with that of the Bush administration, which has found little support among ordinary Canadians or Martin's administration. Canadians have largely praised the embattled Martin for standing up to the White House on such issues as missile defense, Iraq and lumber tariffs.
"The White House, they'll be delighted," Clarkson predicted, should Harper win.
The negative ads this time around have backfired as Harper keeps hammering on several Liberal Party corruption scandals and calling for change, a mantra that many Canadians have taken up. He's kept his ultraconservative views to himself and his handlers have successfully portrayed him as a moderate who will work for the middle class of Ontario, the country's most populous province and a Liberal Party stronghold.
The Huffington Post, produces this original mantra: for the love of God, don't vote for the Cons! Vote for Gore!!! er...I mean Martin:
HARPER KILLS KITTENS: The United Kingdom's Guardian says that this election campaign is different. Canadians aren't being bullied around anymore. They fully understand that Harper will kill kittens if elected:
Canadian progressives, please don't make the same mistake we did in 2000. Vote with your head, not your heart. The NDP can't win, and an ethically challenged, moderately progressive party is a better choice than a socially conservative party embraced in the halls of business and by members of evangelical megachurches.
I know the choice is not appealing, but to me, it is clear. Vote Liberal, and keep Martin around.
The Conservatives surged during the 2004 campaign as well, but the Liberals were able to frighten Canadians about what the rightwingers would do in power. That scare tactic doesn't appear to be working this time.
The Liberal advertisements link Mr Harper to rightwing groups in the United States, and say he will cosy up to the US president, George W Bush, who is despised by many Canadians. This time around, the Liberal attack ads have prompted parodies, including a fake internet campaign that says Mr Harper kills kittens. (According to a front-page profile in the Globe and Mail on Saturday, he was so distraught when his own cat was struck by a car and killed that his staff sent him a condolence card.)
The Liberals are frantically campaigning, and are hoping Mr Harper and the Conservatives have peaked too soon. If Canadians fear the Conservatives might win a majority rather then a minority, they may change their minds about how they will vote. But, after almost 13 years of Liberal rule, Canadians appear ready to give Mr Harper the chance he has been waiting for.
Time Magazine: Who you calling a Bush lover? Sounds like a grown up version of the children's game, "not it!":
There have been times in habitually left-leaning Canada when the suggestion that a politician took money from U.S. conservatives would have been enough to seal victory for the other guy. So when strategists for the ruling Liberal Party unveiled 12 schlock-horror ads last week, three of which linked Harper to "right-wingers in the U.S." (read: the Bush Administration), they may have thought they had pulled off a political masterstroke. Never mind that the charges are at best misleading. This is election time in Canada, and truth gets as much respect as a mouse cornered by a hungry cat.
Even Prime Minister Paul Martin descended into the muck last week, all but branding his opponent an alien from outer space, or at least Texas. "The farthest of the U.S. far right--that's what [he] means when he says it's time for a change in Canada," Martin told supporters in Toronto. "Well, let me tell you something ... That's not the kind of change that Canadians want. America is our neighbor. It is not our nation."
But Canada may not be quite what it used to be. Polls indicate that despite the anti-U.S. attacks, Conservatives are likely to be the big winners in the Jan. 23 federal vote.