Harper's party will add at least 16 seats to their previous totals, adding some heft to their ranks, mostly at the expense of the Liberal Party which was hit hard, especially in Ontario.
As of early Wednesday with more than 60 percent of votes counted, the Conservatives were elected or leading in 143 ridings, up from 127 in 2006, while the Liberals were elected or leading in 76, a drop of 19 seats from the party's standing at dissolution. Bloc Québécois candidates were leading or elected in 50 ridings, while NDP candidates were ahead or holding 37 seats, a gain of seven seats over the last election. Two Independents also held on to their seats.
Harper's victory was the first major national election held in any nation since the global credit crisis burst on the front pages in the past several weeks. The governing Conservatives seemed to fare well despite the current uncertain economic climate and while the opposition Liberals struggled to come up with a coherent message that resonated with the voters. Harper hopes his freshly-minted and strengthened mandate will allow him to move forward now with a number of economic and foreign policy initatives that have been put on hold pending the election results.
With the Liberal popular support sinking to a level not seen since 1867, there was renewed speculation over the future of party leader Stéphane Dion. He conceded defeat early Wednesday morning, but made no mention of resigning as Opposition leader.