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House of Commons

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Parliament name Parliament of Canada - Parlement du Canada
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name House of Commons
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) Senate
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 2 May 2011
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all members of the House of Commons following the premature dissolution of this body on 26 March 2011. General elections had been held previously in October 2008.
On 25 March 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Government lost a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons. The following day, he asked Governor General David Johnston to dissolve the House in view of early elections, set for 2 May. They were constitutionally due by October 2012.

Prime Minister Harper came to power following the 2006 federal elections, ending a 12-year period of government led by the Liberal Party. In the subsequent elections held in October 2008, his Conservative Party increased its share from 124 to 143 seats, but still failed to win a majority in the 308-member House of Commons. Three opposition parties - the Liberal Party,?the Bloc Québécois (BQ) and the New Democrats (NDP) - took 76, 50 and 37 seats respectively. Two independent candidates were also elected.

In December 2008, the Liberal Party and the NDP submitted a no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister, criticizing his handling of the economic crisis. At the request of Prime Minister, Parliament was suspended by the Governor General until 26 January, so the no-confidence vote did not take place. In December 2009, Parliament was once again prorogued until March 2010. The opposition parties accused the Prime Minister of trying to avoid parliamentary debate on allegations of torture of prisoners handed over by Canadian soldiers to the authorities in Afghanistan.

In November 2010, the House Finance Committee asked the government to provide corporate-tax revenue projections and estimates for crime bills. The government replied that both items were "cabinet confidences" and declined to provide further information. Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff stated that the Liberals would oppose the tax cuts scheduled for 2011 and 2012. On 1 January 2011, the corporate tax cut, lowering the rate from 18 to 16.5 per cent, took effect.

On 3 February, the House Finance Committee stated that the government had possibly breached parliamentary privilege by refusing to disclose details of the tax-revenue and crime bills. On 17 February, the government submitted details, which opposition parties considered insufficient. A Liberal MP subsequently asked Speaker Peter Milliken (Liberal Party) to rule on whether the government was in contempt of Parliament. On 7 March, the Speaker referred the matter to the Procedure and House Affairs Committee. On 21 March, the latter found the government to be in contempt of Parliament by withholding information about the crime bill.

On 22 March, the opposition parties stated that they would vote against the federal budget submitted by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. The Prime Minister said his government would not accept any amendments to the budget. On 25 March, the Liberal Party submitted a no-confidence vote, which was supported by the BQ and the NDP. The motion stated that the House of Commons agreed with the Committee's finding that the government was in contempt of Parliament. It was adopted by a vote of 156 to 145, triggering early elections.

During the 2011 election campaign, Prime Minister Harper's Conservative Party promised to create jobs through training, trade and low taxes and pledged to eliminate the deficit by 2014-2015 through controlling spending and cutting waste. The Prime Minister urged voters to give him a parliamentary majority, arguing that otherwise, a coalition of opposition parties would push for more spending and tax increases. He insisted that such measures would hinder Canada's economic recovery.

Liberal Party leader Ignatieff dismissed the Prime Minister's arguments, stating that his party would not form a coalition with any other party or raise taxes but promised to cancel "unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for the largest corporations". He promised to provide equal opportunities for all Canadians by providing affordable child care and assistance with university fees. He argued that those measures could be implemented without tax rises by reducing wasteful spending.

NDP Leader Jack Layton promised to introduce affordable measures to improve the country's pension system, child care, education and health care and thereby help families in difficulty. In contrast to the Liberal leader, Mr. Layton said he would work with other parties either on a case-by-case basis, or, in "more stable arrangements".

BQ Leader Gilles Duceppe argued that giving a majority to the Conservative Party would be tantamount to "new assaults against the French language and the culture of Quebec" and that Quebec's economic interests would be "completely ignored". He called on voters' support, contending that the BQ was the only party that could defend Quebec's interests.

The Green Party was hoping to regain the one seat that it had held until 2008. It is led by Ms. Elizabeth May, the sole woman to head a federal party.

On 2 May, 61.41 per cent of the 14 million registered voters turned out at the polls.

The Prime Minister's Conservative Party took 167 of the 308 seats at stake, securing a parliamentary majority. The NDP nearly tripled its share to 102. Inversely, the Liberal Party and the Bloc Québécois saw their share reduced sharply, taking 37 and four seats respectively. Green Party leader May took the remaining seat. A record 76 women were elected, up from 68 in 2008.

On 2 June, the newly elected House of Commons held its first session and elected Mr. Andrew Scheer (Conservative Party) as its new Speaker. Mr. Scheer, 32 years old, became the youngest Speaker ever in Canada. He succeeds Mr. Peter Milliken (Liberal), who had been the longest-serving Speaker in Canadian history (2001-2011).
Voter turnout
Round no 12 May 2011
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
14'720'580 (61.41%)

Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Conservative Party 5'832'401 39.60
New Democratic Party (NDP) 4'508'474 30.60
Liberal Party 2'783'175 18.90
Bloc Québécois (BQ) 889'788 6.00
Green Party 576'221 3.90
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Conservative Party 167 24
New Democratic Party (NDP) 102 65
Liberal Party 34 -42
Bloc Québécois (BQ) 4 -46
Green Party 1 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Parliament of Canada (01.01.2012, 27.03.2012, 01.01.2014, 01.06.2015)

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