The Canadian federal election of 1997 was a general election to elect members to the Parliament of Canada held on September 2, 1997 at the recommendation of Prime Minister David M. Collenette and called by President Joe Clark. The election was fought over the haphazard transition to a market economy and the embarrassing losses by the federal government in the Quebec independence referendum. As the Liberals' position had been narrowly defeated in the Quebec referendum, Collenette was viewed as a somewhat weak Prime Minister. Buoyed by a Canadian economy that had emerged from the 1996 recession and the splitting of the right and center-right amongst three parties, Collenette called the election early and stunned most political observers by maintaining power with a slightly reduced minority. The Liberals erased a substantial lead in the polls by the Reform Party in the final two months before the election and Collenette would not face a challenge to his Ministry from within his party until late 2004.