Page last updated at 21:46 GMT, Thursday, 4 September 2008 22:46 UK

Canada primed for snap election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper pictured in 2006
Mr Harper had hinted that an election was inevitable

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be preparing to call an early general election, reports suggest.

Parliament is due to reconvene after its summer break on 15 September, but correspondents believe Mr Harper will call for an election on Sunday.

His Conservative Party was elected in 2006, but does not have an overall majority and has clashed with the opposition on a number of key issues.

It is thought an election could be pencilled in for 14 October.

There has not yet been any official confirmation of the reports.

Soon after rumours of an election surfaced, Foreign Minister David Emerson and two other ministers announced they would not be seeking re-election.

Mr Harper had indicated on Wednesday that he had made up his mind about an election and would inform Canadians of his decision "in the coming days".

He has hinted several times that an election was inevitable to break what he described as the deadlock between the government and opposition parties.

And several media outlets have reported that the prime minister intended to meet Governor-General Michaelle Jean on Sunday to ask for parliament's dissolution.

She represents Canada's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, whose formal approval is needed to dissolve parliament.

Mr Harper's Conservatives ended 12 years of Liberal government after elections in 2006.

His party claimed 36% of the popular vote by promising to cut taxes, fight crime, boost military spending and to repair relations with the US.

He went on to form a minority administration, but has been dogged by clashes with opposition parties, whose agreement he needed to pass legislation.

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