Days after his conservative government was ousted in a vote of no-confidence passed in the Canadian Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that elections would be held on May 2 this year.
Mr. Harper’s opposition, comprising the Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois parties, passed a no-confidence motion by a vote of 156-145 last Friday, following which the legislature was dissolved.
With these developments, Canada will soon face its fourth election in seven years, most of which have resulted in minority governments ruling the country. However, recent polls suggest that this time the Conservatives, led by Mr. Harper, might succeed in garnering a majority, or in any case, would come out ahead of the Liberal party.
Following his government’s ouster, Mr. Harper was reported to have said that the Liberals had a “hidden agenda” to form a coalition if voters did not elect a stable national government, which, he said, only the Conservatives could form.
The Wall Street Journal quoted Mr. Harper as saying it was “crazy” to risk having an “unprincipled” coalition government with a party that wants to break up the country, a reference to Bloc Quebecois, which was said to want secession for the province of Quebec.
However, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff dismissed Mr. Harper’s claims about opportunistic coalition politics by the opposition, in particular, arguing that he would not work with the Bloc Quebecois.
“We will not enter a coalition with other federalist parties,” Mr. Ignatieff said in a statement, adding, “Issue-by-issue collaboration with other parties is the best way for minority Parliaments to function.” He also pointed out that coalitions were a “legitimate constitutional option”.
Mr. Harper, who has headed two successive minority governments since 2006, is credited with sound macroeconomic management of the economy that saw Canada emerge from the global economic crisis relatively unscathed.
Social media election
In an unusual development, observers noted that the upcoming election might well be Canada’s first “social media election” entailing the use of micro-blogging site Twitter and other social media websites.
According to reports, “The defeat of the Conservative government unleashed a torrent of political tweets,” and by mid-afternoon on Sunday, more than 14,000 tweets related to the campaign, the election or Canadian politics had been sent out.