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Canadian PM Stephen Harper calls election for October 19

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has triggered an election campaign and set the vote for October 19.

Mr Harper and his Conservative party are seeking a fourth term after almost a decade in power. The prime minister dissolved Parliament on Sunday.

Mr Harper, in power since 2006, has managed to nudge an instinctively centre-left country to the right. He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation, supported the oil industry against the environmental lobby, increased military spending and backed Israel's right-wing government.

Analysts say the election is a close call and Mr Harper faces an uphill battle to form another majority government.

If he wins he'll become the first prime minister since Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1908 to win four consecutive elections.

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