March 25, 2011 / 9:06 PM / in 7 years

Hugs and cheers in Parliament as government falls

OTTAWA (Reuters) Canada’s 40th Parliament ended on Friday with cheers from opposition legislators and a general rush for the door, as politicians voted along party lines to drive the Conservatives out of office.

<p>Canada's Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff stands to vote on the non-confidence motion in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 25, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie</p>

Under Canada’s political system, the defeat of a minority government under a nonconfidence motion, as happened on Friday, brings an instant election campaign that will see politicians crisscrossing the world’s second largest country to put their case.

“I haven’t even been able to talk to MPs, they are running out of the door so fast,” a reporter said on CBC television.

But even as lawmakers launched their usual shrill attacks during their Parliamentary debate, the atmosphere surrounding the vote was remarkably cordial.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper walked across the aisle and spoke with each of the opposition leaders who minutes later would topple his government.

Gilles Duceppe, leader of a Quebec-based party that doesn’t want his French-speaking province to be part of Canada at all, said Harper had wished him luck and said he’d see him back in the House of Commons after the election, due in early May.

Both before and after the vote, there were hugs and fond farewells. Some lawmakers took pictures, while others threw papers in the air in glee when the government fell.

The nonconfidence vote had been expected since Tuesday, and visitors packed the public galleries to watch the session.

“First time I’ve ever seen crowds of people watching airport TV’s -- glued to historic vote in Parliament,” CTV reporter Lisa LaFlamme noted on Twitter.

After the nonconfidence vote that ousted his government, Harper got up and proposed a simple motion to adjourn, and that was that.

“That’s it, folks ...Official Time of Death for this Parliament: 2:19pm,” tweeted CTV’s Richard Madan.

Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Janet Guttsman

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