Harper is expected to visit the residence of the governor general on Saturday to dissolve the parliament [EPA]

Canada's minority Conservative government has been defeated in a non-confidence vote, setting the scene for a federal election in early May.

The vote, brought about by the opposition Liberal Party and backed by two other opposition parties, cited the government of Stephen Harper, the prime minister, as being in contempt of parliament.

Legislators in the House of Commons in Ottawa voted by 156-145 to back the motion on Friday.

The result sends Canadians to the polls for the fourth time in seven years.

Harper is expected to visit the residence of David Johnston, the governor general, on Saturday to dissolve the parliament.

The Liberal non-confidence motion was supported by both the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party.

The Conservative Party is predicted to win the May election, with some polls showing it may even gain seats.

Source: Agencies