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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's head of state, Governor General Michaelle Jean, is monitoring political developments in Canada and is prepared to break off her state trip to Europe early if needed at home, her office said on Friday.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's minority Conservative government could collapse as early as next week if opposition parties vote no-confidence in it over the government's economic stimulus plans, a possibility that seemed likely on Friday.
Harper would be required to meet with the governor general, who represents Queen Elizabeth as Canada's head of state, if his government loses a parliamentary vote of confidence. Her European trip is scheduled to run through December 6.
"Her Excellency is very aware of her constitutional responsibilities. Contingency plans are in place for her to return to Canada should this be required," the governor general's office in Ottawa said in a statement.
A top aide to Harper told reporters on Friday the prime minister had no plans to ask the governor general to return to Canada at this point.
If the government collapses, Jean would have the option of dissolving the Parliament and ordering an election, or asking the Liberals and other opposition parties if they can join forces and create a new government without an election.
Jean may choose to give the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois parties a chance to create some form of a coalition government since Canada held a federal election less than two months ago.
"The governor general is being briefed on a regular basis while continuing her heavy program for the state visit," her office said.
Jean's visit, which began November 24, has stops in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia.
Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing Peter Galloway