I just figured out that Prime Minister Stephen Harper can get around asking Michaelle Jean, Governor-General of Canada, to dissolve parliament before the so-called fixed election date. Harper can inform her that he and his cabinet will be resigning from her government. Theoretically, it will be up to her to decide if she should ask Stéphane Dion if his party can form a governing coalition with the NDP and Bloc Québécois. Or she can dissolve parliament and announce an election date. Informally, I think the governor-general will seek the advice of Stephen Harper and announce an election date of his choosing.
In essence, Harper will not be asking for an early election. He'll just be announcing that he and the cabinet will be resigning from the government.