Canada heads for election as government falls
A corruption scandal forced a vote of no-confidence Monday that toppled Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government, triggering an...
The Associated Press
TORONTO — A corruption scandal forced a vote of no-confidence Monday that toppled Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government, triggering an unusual election campaign during the Christmas holidays.
Canada's three opposition parties, which control a majority in Parliament, voted against Martin's government, claiming his Liberal Party no longer has the moral authority to lead the nation.
The loss means an election for all 308 seats in the lower House of Commons, likely on Jan. 23. Martin and his Cabinet would continue to govern until then.
Opposition leaders last week called for the no-confidence vote after Martin rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament in January and hold early elections in February. Monday's vote follows a flurry of spending announcements in Ottawa last week, with the government trying to advance its agenda ahead of its demise.
Martin is expected to dissolve the House of Commons today and set a firm date for the elections. Under Canadian law, elections must be held on a Monday — unless it falls on a holiday — and the campaign period is sharply restricted.
"The vote in the House of Commons did not go our way," Martin said. "But the decision of the future of our government will be made by Canadians. They will judge us."
Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper joined with the New Democratic and Bloc Quebecois parties to bring down the government — prompting the first Christmas and winter campaign in mostly Christian Canada in 26 years. Recent polls have given the Liberals a slight lead over the Conservatives, with the New Democrats in third place.
The same surveys suggest the Bloc Quebecois would sweep the French-speaking province of Quebec, making a majority government unlikely.
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