A look at incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper

NAME: Stephen Harper.

AGE: 52.

OCCUPATION: Career politician. Trained economist.

FAMILY: Wife is graphic designer Laureen; two children, Ben and Rachel.

POLITICAL: He forged an alliance of old and new Tory parties to form the Conservative Party of Canada. He has won two elections but never with a majority. Even with only a tenuous hold on the 308-member Parliament, he managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right. Harper has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, promoted Arctic sovereignty, upped military spending and extended Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. He has staunchly backed Israel's right-wing government.

BACKGROUND: Harper grew up in the suburbs of Toronto. After high school, he dropped out of the University of Toronto and made oil-rich, highly conservative Alberta his adopted home. He worked in the mailroom of petroleum giant Imperial Oil, then got his masters in economics at the University of Calgary.

QUOTE: "I think if you look on balance I think this is a center-right government. ... We tend to favor free enterprise and markets over government intervention. Low taxes over high taxes. We favor family tradition. We're strong supporters of our traditional allies."