OTTAWA: Canadians must choose their next prime minister Monday (Tuesday in Manila) from three main party leaders.
Stephen Harper is an economist once seen as prickly and more at home plowing through economic theory than mingling with voters on the campaign trail. He contrasts with Thomas Mulcair, a charismatic orator and lawyer, and youthful-looking Justin Trudeau.
Harper is seeking his fourth mandate since 2006, while a Mulcair victory would mean the first ever New Democratic government in Canada.
A win by Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, would mark the return of the party that ruled most of the last century but was relegated to third spot in the last ballot in 2011.
The 56-year-old Conservative leader has tracked Canada to the right during the past nine years while staking out a more aggressive and militaristic foreign policy that has seen Canadians fighting in Afghanistan, Libya and most recently against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Elected in Calgary, where most Canadian energy companies are based, Harper withdrew Canada from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. He embraces smaller governments and strongly opposes government intervention in business affairs.
He is married with two children.
The 60-year-old former lawyer has been elected six times by Montrealers to political office, and was previously a Liberal environment minister in Quebec before joining the Social Democrats.
He later succeeded NDP leader Jack Layton, who died of cancer shortly after the last ballot, and tracked the NDP to the center to appeal to a broader electorate and consolidate the party’s gains.
He proved himself to be one of Canada’s best ever opposition leaders in pressing the government to account in the House of Commons, according to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
He has vowed to end Canada’s military mission against IS and roll back Tory policies, notably on the environment, and pledged a C$15 a day national daycare program.
He is married to a French national, with whom he has two sons.
A former teacher, whitewater guide, snowboard instructor, bartender, bouncer, as well as a public speaker and an advocate for various causes, Justin Trudeau, 43, was first elected in a gritty, working-class neighborhood of Montreal in 2008.
Five years later, he became Liberal leader. Partisans hoped his youth and famous name would revitalize the party in time to challenge the Conservatives in 2015.
Campaigning coast to coast, he touted a plank aimed at bolstering Canada’s middle class, while also calling for deficit spending for new infrastructure while rivals urged fiscal restraint.
He backs legalizing marijuana.
Trudeau is married with three young children.