Canada’s prime minister, Stephen Harper, is poised to call a parliamentary election for October 19, kicking off a marathon 11-week campaign likely to focus on a stubbornly sluggish economy and his decade in power. Harper’s office said in a statement on Saturday night that he is due to visit governor general David Johnston – the representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state – at 9:55 am (1355 GMT) on Sunday. Harper, who has been in power since 2006, is expected to seek the dissolution of parliament, triggering the start of the campaign. Polls indicate that Harper’s right-of-center Conservative party, which has been in office since 2006, could lose its majority in the House of Commons.
That would leave Harper at the mercy of the two main centre-left opposition parties, who could unite to bring him down. Minority governments in Canada rarely last more than 18 months. Five of Canada’s last six election campaigns have lasted the minimum length of just over five weeks.
The Conservatives have deep pockets and the campaign – the longest in modern Canadian history and the third longest on record – will allow them to run a wave of attack ads. Opposition parties say this is an abuse of the system.