Canada’s Conservative government has lost a no-confidence vote in parliament in Ottawa, federal elections are expected in early May. (photo, from aljazeera.net)
The opposition Liberal party leader Michael Ignatieff organised the vote and was backed by two other opposition parties the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party.
The vote on Friday cited the government of prime minister Stephen Harper as being in contempt of parliament and legislators in the House of Commons voted by 156-145 to back the motion.
It will be the fourth time in seven years that Canadians go to the polls, but the Conservatives are likely to keep power in a May election.
A parliamentary committee led by the opposition parties made a discovery that induced the vote. The committee found out that Mr Harper’s government had acted in contempt by failing to disclose the full costs of spending on anti-crime programmes, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase stealth fighter jets.
On Saturday, Governor General David Johnston will be asked by Mr Harper to dissolve parliament.
Then an election will be held following at least 36 days of campaigning.
According to Canadian analysts it will be called for the first week in May.
‘Moment of weakness’
Mr Harper, 51 said after the confidence vote that the forthcoming federal election would “disappoint” most Canadians.
He added that his party would remain focused on nurturing Canada’s economic recovery.
“Our priority will remain to ensure stability and security for Canadians, in what remain extremely challenging global circumstances,” he said.
“We want to form an alternative to the Harper government that respects democracy, that respects our institutions, that respects Canadian citizens,” said Mr Ignatieff, who is leading the Liberal party into an election for the first time.
The 63-year old historian, writer and political commentator also hailed the “historic moment”, and called for a focus on healthcare, education and retirement support.
Mr Harper’s Conservative party currently holds 145 seats in the dissolving parliament, shy of a majority of the 308 seats.
According to recent polling, the Conservatives will enjoy a lead at the start of campaigning, with the Liberal party in second, the New Democratic (NDP) party third and the Bloc Quebecois, a party that only campaigns in Quebec, fourth.
Some polls even suggest that the Conservative party may gain seats.
But even though Mr Harper’s minority government had set a record for its tenure, analysts say Canadian voters have shown little desire for an election.
“The political calculations driving this election have nothing to do with making Canada a better place for Canadians,” said Don Martin, CTV television political analyst.
“The opposition parties see a moment of weakness.”