Harper to call election for Oct 14
By David Ljunggren and Randall Palmer
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Sunday will trigger an October 14 general election campaign, after 2-1/2 years at the helm of a minority Conservative government, a spokeswoman said on Friday.
The national vote will mark Canada's third election in four years and comes at a time when the economy is struggling to cope with a slowdown in the United States, the country's largest trading partner.
Two issues are expected to dominate the campaign: the softening Canadian economy and a carbon tax plan proposed by Harper's chief opponent. Polls indicate a vote now would result in another Conservative minority.
The spokeswoman said that at 8:15 a.m. EDT on Sunday Harper would visit Governor-General Michaelle Jean and ask her to dissolve Parliament formally so an election could be held.
Jean is the representative in Canada of the head of state, Queen Elizabeth. Her approval is considered a formality.
Harper was supposed to wait until October 2009, the date set for the next election under a law brought in by the Conservatives.
He says he wants an election now because Parliament has become dysfunctional, a strategy that prompted many commentators and rivals to accuse him of cynicism.
"Stephen Harper wants to rush into an election before Canadians can realize how little he has done to prepare our country to deal with the slowdown of the economy," said Stephane Dion, leader of the opposition Liberal Party. Continued...