Harper said Canadians would be "crazy" to vote for opposition parties [EPA]
Canada will hold general elections for the fourth time in seven years on May 2 following the minority Conservative government's defeat in a non-confidence vote.
Stephen Harper, the prime minister since 2006, visited the residence of David Johnston, the governor general, on Saturday to dissolve parliament.
Harper's government faces opposition accusations of sleaze and mismanagement but the prime minister said Saturday that voters would be "crazy" to vote for his opponents.
Legislators in the House of Commons in Ottawa voted by 156-145 to back a motion on Friday citing the government as being in contempt of parliament.
The Liberal non-confidence motion was supported by both the Bloc Quebecois and the New Democratic Party.
This week, a parliamentary committee slapped the government with the first contempt ruling in Canada's history, saying the Conservatives had hidden the full costs of a spending program.
Still, the Conservatives are predicted to win the May election, with some polls showing the party may even gain seats.
Harper told journalists on Saturday that voting for the opposition "would be crazy, given the circumstances Canada faces".
Canada has weathered the economic crisis better than most Western countries but Conservatives argue that recovery would be jeopardised by a change of government.
The main opposition Liberal party has said it would scrap $6.1 billion in corporate tax cuts and end multibillion-dollar plans to buy new fighter jets and build prison cells.
But Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Party leader, said Harper was "out of touch with the priorities of Canadian families. He's led a government whose record of waste, contempt and abuse of power has gone out of control."