Harper sets election for May 2

Sun Mar 27, 2011 12:07am EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Prime Minister Stephen Harper set May 2 as the date of the next election on Saturday and said people would be "crazy" to vote for opposition parties he accused of trying to illegitimately seize power.

A clearly angry Harper railed against the three opposition parties that brought his minority Conservative government down on Friday. The opposition said the government was tainted by sleaze, had managed the economy poorly and was in contempt of Parliament.

Polls show the right-of-center Conservatives are set to retain power in what will be Canada's fourth election in less than seven years.

Harper, in power since 2006 with two successive minority governments, says Canada does not need an election at a time when economic recovery is still fragile. Canada's economy is one of the best performing among industrialized nations.

Harper told reporters that if Conservatives don't win a majority in the election, the three opposition parties would form what he called an illegitimate, unstable and reckless coalition.

"They are still trying to keep the door open because they will do it if they get a chance ... you don't try and form a government if you lost the election. That is not legitimate," he said, visibly struggling to curb his temper.

Voting for the opposition, he added, "would be crazy, given the circumstances Canada faces".

Harper spoke after visiting Governor General David Johnston -- the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state -- to seek the dissolution of Parliament.   Continued...

<p>Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks to journalists as his wife Laureen looks on outside Rideau Hall in Ottawa March 26, 2011. A general election will be held in Canada on May 2, Harper said on Saturday. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>