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In Canada, Prime Minister Harper's Government Falls

Prime Minister Stephen Harper outside the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday (March 23, 2011). Adrian Wyld/AP hide caption

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Adrian Wyld/AP

Prime Minister Stephen Harper outside the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday (March 23, 2011).

Adrian Wyld/AP

"Canadian opposition parties toppled Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government in a no confidence vote Friday, triggering the country's fourth election in seven years," The Associated Press reports.

The Ottawa Sun writes: "Get ready for an election. the federal government has been toppled. ... The final vote on the Liberal motion declaring the Commons had lost confidence in the government was 156 for and 145 against."

Toronto's Globe and Mail calls it an "historic Commons showdown." At the center of the story:

"This week, the opposition-dominated procedure and House affairs committee found the government to be in contempt for failing to release information related to the costs of crime legislation and the purchase of stealth fighter jets."

The election will be held in about six weeks.

Update at 3:45 p.m. ET. How Does An Election Get Triggered?

The Globe and Mail explains here how the process works. After a no-confidence vote:

"The Prime Minister visits the Governor-General — currently David Johnston — to say that Parliament has lost confidence in his government. Only five Canadian governments have lost a confidence vote: Arthur Meighen's in 1926, John Diefenbaker's in 1963, Pierre Trudeau's in 1974, Joe Clark's in 1979 and Paul Martin's in 2005. Only a minority government usually loses a confidence vote, because it doesn't control a majority of seats.

"The Prime Minister then requests the Governor-General dissolve Parliament, so voters can elect a new Parliament."

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