Canadian Premier Harper's government toppled
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government was on Friday toppled by the opposition after a no-confidence vote passed in parliament, dpa reported.
The opposition voted for a motion declaring Harper's government in contempt of parliament. The Liberal Party and two other opposition parties said they had lost confidence in the government for not supplying sufficient information on the cost of its tough-on-crime bills, F-35 fighter jet procurement and corporate tax cuts.
The vote was carried by 156 for and 145 against the motion.
The Conservative defeat paves the way for a spring election, likely to take place either on May 2 or 9.
It will be the fourth federal election in less than seven years for Canada, where neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have been able to obtain parliamentary majority since 2004.
"The House must speak with a clear voice and it must say that a government that breaks the rules and conceals the facts from the Canadian people does not deserve to remain in office," said Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff as he opened the debate on the floor of the House of Commons.
"After five years of Conservative government, it is time to say enough is enough."
John Baird, Conservative leader of the lower chamber, or House of Commons, slammed the opposition for "forcing an unwanted and unnecessary election on Canadians."
"We find ourselves here today faced with the most partisan of attacks from an opposition coalition bent on defeating this government at all costs," Baird said. "They are were the ones who demonstrated real contempt for Parliament, and they will have to answer to the Canadian people for that."
It is the first time in Canadian parliamentary history that a sitting government has been declared in contempt of Parliament, Ignatieff said.
Harper said he will meet Governor-General David Johnston, the queen's representative in Canada, on Saturday and ask him to dissolve Parliament.
Speaking to reporters after Friday's vote, Harper said he will run on the priorities outlined in the budget presented to Parliament on Tuesday.
"The economic recovery in Canada is strong, but it must remain our priority. That is why the economy is and will remain my top priority as prime minister," Harper said.
On Thursday, the Conservatives opened a second front, warning of a possible coalition between the left-of-centre Liberals and left-wing New Democratic Party with the tacit support of the separatist Bloc Quebecois party from the French-speaking province of Quebec.
The presence of Bloc Quebecois in the federal parliament is an emotionally charged issue, particularly in Western Canada.
Ignatieff, however, dismissed the talk of a possible left-wing coalition, calling it a "smokescreen."
"I'm, here to present the clear choice between Liberals and Conservatives. If you vote for other parties, you'll get more of Harper. It's perfectly clear. If you want to replace Harper, vote Liberal."
The Liberals hope to capitalize on the growing list of scandals surrounding the Harper government, as well as their own record in slaying the deficit in mid-1990s.
"We respect democracy. We want Canada to be a green country, one that is proud on the international scene, that looks after Canadians and their priorities and not fighter jets and big corporations," Ignatieff said.
If elected, Ignatieff has promised to review Canada's controversial purchase of 65 F-35 fighter jets.