There were cheers at the Conservative Party headquarters in Calgary as the media predictions were announced. Harper was expected to give his victory speech later in the night.
Shortly after polling stations closed, the country's major news outlets including the Canadian Broadcast Corp. and the Canadian Press news agency called the election for the the Conservatives, who were expected to win seats for the first time in French-speak Quebec and make significant gains in the Liberal stronghold of Ontario.
With only 36 seats still uncounted, the Conservatives had either won or were leading with 105 seats; the Liberals had 91; the Bloc Quebecois had 49 and the New Democratic Party had won or were leading with 23 seats. The Green Party and an Independents appeared to have the other seats.
Based on the media predictions, the Conservatives will fall far short of winning a majority in the House of Commons and will have to form a coalition to rule.
A Conservative victory ends nearly 13 years of Liberal Party rule and shifts the traditionally liberal country to the right on socio-economic issues such as health care, taxation, abortion and gay marriage.
Relations with the Bush administration would likely improve under a Harper government, as his ideology runs along the same lines of many Republicans south of the border.
Many Canadians had grown weary of the broken promises and corruption scandals under the Liberal Party and were apparently willing to give Harper the benefit of doubt, despite fears the 46-year-old economist was too extreme in his views opposing abortion and gay marriage.