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Governor-General David Johnston speaks sits for an interview at Rideau Hall on October 15, 2010.

Pawel Dwulit/pawel dwulit The Globe and Mail

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to make the short trek to Rideau Hall Saturday morning around 9 a.m.

There, under what is forecast to be a bright but breezy early spring day in the capital, he will give Governor-General David Johnston the news that his two-and-a-half year old minority government went down to defeat Friday in the House of Commons.

After a closed door chat, Mr. Harper - who will still be Prime Minister but will be referred to in most media as Conservative Party Leader throughout the campaign - will announce whether Mr. Johnston accepted his request for a federal election.

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He will also make the official announcement as to the date Canadians will go to the polls. Federal law requires an election campaign must be at least 36 days long and end on a Monday, which makes May 2 the most likely day. If Mr. Harper wants a longer campaign, the next option would be May 9.

Later Saturday his campaign plane is expected to take off from Ottawa en route for Quebec. It is not clear where and when his first event will take place. Speculation is that it will be in the Quebec City region, where Conservatives will fight to hold existing seats and defend the government's decision not to fund an NHL-calibre arena for the provincial capital.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is also heading east on Saturday - to Montreal - after an Ottawa-area rally. The island of Montreal has long provided the Liberals with a solid base of support, but the NDP's Thomas Mulcair has now won two elections in the urban riding of Outremont. The Bloc Québécois also has solid support in the city's eastern, more francophone ridings.

The Conservatives are not about to concede Montreal however. One of the party's star candidates, Larry Smith, has promised to step down from the Senate and will attempt to unseat veteran Liberal Francis Scarpaleggia in the riding of Lac-Saint-Louis.

NDP Leader Jack Layton will hold a campaign event Saturday in Ottawa before heading to Edmonton for an evening rally. The NDP surprised many in the 2008 campaign when the party's Linda Duncan defeated veteran Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer in Edmonton-Strathcona. The rest of the province's ridings went solidly blue in 2008.

With a report from Steven Chase

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