Canada's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has dissolved Parliament and called an early election for next month, in the hope of strengthening his Conservative minority government's hold on power.
Mr Harper's Conservatives need to win 28 more seats to secure a majority, and opinion polls in recent days suggest they have a chance of doing so.
A Conservative victory in 2006 ended almost 13 years of Liberal Party rule, but Mr Harper's minority government has been forced to rely on opposition MPs to pass legislation and get budgets adopted.
"Between now and October 14, Canadians will choose a government to look out for their interests at a time of global economic trouble," Mr Harper said.
The Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, acknowledged his party faced an uphill battle in the election campaign. "I love it. I love to be the underdog. I love being underestimated," Mr Dion said. AP