Harper prorogues Parliament, sets new session

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday he will ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament, short-circuiting the current session, which was set to resume Sept. 16.

Could set the stage for confidence vote and election

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday he will askGov. Gen. Michaëlle Jeanto prorogue Parliament, short-circuitingthe current session, which was set to resume Sept. 17.

MPswill be recalled Oct. 16 to start a second session of the 39th Parliament with a speech from the throne, he said in a statement.

The CBC's Don Newman reported from Ottawa that themove sets the stage for a non-confidence vote that could trigger an election campaign — a vote and election campaign that could turn on Canada's commitment in Afghanistan.

Opposition partiesmust decide whether they want to bring down Harper's minority Conservative government, elected 18 months ago,and face another campaign.

In 2004, Paul Martin's Liberal minoritydodged defeat temporarily by agreeing to accept a Conservative amendment to a throne speech motion.

The decision will leave Parliament dark during the campaigning for elections in Ontario (Oct. 10), the Northwest Territories (Oct. 1), Newfoundland and Labrador (Oct. 9) and an as-yet uncalled election in Saskatchewan.

It alsolets the Conservatives have all hands on deck to help Tory candidates in the Ontario campaign and gives them a break from the daily scrutiny of Question Period and the horse-trading of minority government.

The throne speech mayhelp Harperput anewer face on what hehas called Canada's New Government.

In his statement, Harper said he was "pleased to report that Canada is united, our government is clean and our economy is strong. Now it’s time to launch the next phase of our mandate."

"The First Session of the 39th Parliament was exceptionally productive, especially for a Government in a minority situation,"Harper said in a statement.

"We delivered on all the major commitments we made to Canadians during the 2006 election."