Canadian government falls, election set for May

Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:05pm EDT
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The opposition toppled Canada's Conservative government on Friday, accusing it of sleaze and mismanagement, and set the scene for a May election that polls indicate the Conservatives will win.

Opposition legislators threw papers in the air in glee after voting 156-145 in the House of Commons to defeat the minority government, which they also say has mismanaged the economy and is overly secretive.

The defeat paves the way for an election that will likely be fought on two main themes -- ethics and the economy. Likely dates are May 2 or May 9.

Canada's dollar was steady at C$0.9810 to the U.S. dollar, or $1.0194. Domestic stocks ignored the political news and ended slightly higher on a rally in resource stocks.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper admitted he was disappointed by the result, and said Canadians did not want what will be the fourth general election in less than seven years.

"Our priority will remain to ensure stability and security for Canadians in what remain extremely challenging global circumstances," he told reporters soon after the vote.

Harper said he would visit Governor General David Johnston, the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state, on Saturday to seek the formal dissolution of Parliament and set a date for the election.

The Conservatives, in power since 2006 with two successive minority governments, are well ahead of the main opposition Liberal Party in opinion polls. If the polls translate into votes, Harper would once again get the most number of seats.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is applauded after voting on a non-confidence motion in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, March 25, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>