Everything you need to know about the 2021 federal election
OTTAWA -- It's on. On Aug. 15 Justin Trudeau called a federal election, kicking off just over five weeks of campaigning before Canadians vote on Sept. 20.
Who will you be voting for, and when, and where? When will the leaders vying to be prime minister debate each other? How will the pandemic change the race? And what is CTV News offering to keep you on top of the national election campaign?
All of those answers and more are below. Be sure to bookmark our election page for all the latest news, and video of the daily campaign events.
And, subscribe to our daily election newsletter for quick campaign rundowns each evening.
Who are the party leaders?
• The leader of the Liberal Party is Justin Trudeau
• The leader of the Conservative Party is Erin O’Toole
• The leader of the Bloc Quebecois is Yves-Francois Blanchet
• The leader of the New Democratic Party is Jagmeet Singh
• The leader of the Green Party is Annamie Paul
• The leader of the People’s Party is Maxime Bernier
Where can I read what each party is proposing?
On CTVNews.ca we are keeping track of and analyzing each party's major promises. Check out our regularly updated platform tracker.
How do I stay on top of the polling numbers?
There's a few ways you can do that. We have daily updates from pollster Nik Nanos showing the latest standings of every party in public opinion on our main election page.
As well, Nanos and CTVNews.ca’s Michael Stittle are diving deeper into the polling data three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) on CTV News’ podcast, Trend Line. Subscribe now to receive the quick, but insightful check-ins on the public mood of Canadians, directly to your inbox.
What about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and precautions parties are taking?
All parties have said they are following all of the COVID-19 public health protocols that apply in the province or region they are visiting. While a handful of provinces have held elections since the pandemic was declared, this is the first national tour seeing leaders and a contingent of staff and reporters travelling with them.
As the pandemic situation evolves, we are keeping a close eye on how the campaign strategies shift.
When is voting day?
The official election day Sept. 20 across Canada. Polling places will be open for 12 hours, with the time varying, depending on what province you are in.
To keep things simple, we’ve compiled all the ways you can vote in this election.
Who can vote?
Canadian citizens who are 18 years of age or older can vote, so long as you're able to prove your identity and address.
If you do not have ID, an elector registered to the same polling station can vouch for you, so long as you declare your ID and address and that person has not vouched for anyone else. There is an exception in the case of long-term care facilities, where there is an ability for someone to vouch for more than one person.
You can use your voter information card as proof of address, but you'll also need additional ID, whether a utility bill, or a student ID card, or bank statement, for example.
If you have a driver's licence or other government ID that has your photo, your name and current address, then you only need that one piece, but still bring your voter information card with you.
You can check to see if you are registered to vote, here.
Can I vote in advance?
Yes. While there had been some consideration to an extended weekend voting period, there will be just one election day. But, you can also cast your ballot in-person in at polling places across the country on:
- Friday, Sept. 10
- Saturday, Sept. 11
- Sunday, Sept. 12
- Monday, Sept. 13
Click here to find your polling place.
You can also vote early by submitting a “special ballot,” which you have to apply online for, but can be mailed in or delivered to your local Elections Canada offices. Elections Canada says you can also apply by contacting or visiting any local Elections Canada office before Tuesday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. Expecting an uptick in mail-in ballots, Elections Canada will also have special drop boxes inside polling places where the special ballot can be submitted up until the time polls close on election day.
Everything you need to know about mail-in ballots is here.
How do I know what riding I am in?
You can find out what riding you are in, by entering your postal code, here. There has not been a riding redistribution since the 2015 election, so if you haven't moved, it'll be the same riding as the last time you voted for your Member of Parliament.
How do I find out who the candidates in my riding are?
Click here and you can see everyone that has registered with Elections Canada to be on the ballot in your riding.
As well, CTVNews.ca is compiling a series of riding profiles, looking at the hotly contested ridings, tight races, and places where interesting candidates are fighting for a seat. Stay tuned for our ridings to watch feature.
Why do I vote for local representation and not the prime minister?
In Canada, we have a parliamentary democracy. There are currently 338 seats in the House of Commons, one for a representative from each of the 338 ridings. The 105 members in the Senate are appointed, and not elected.
The electoral system we follow is called first past the post (FPTP), meaning that the candidate with the most votes in each riding is elected to that seat. Generally speaking, the party who has the most elected representatives forms government, and the leader of that party becomes the prime minister. The party with the second-most elected representatives becomes the Official Opposition.
In order to form a majority government, the party with the most seats needs to have more than half of the seats in the House of Commons, so in the current context: 170 seats. If no one party elects 170 MPs, then it will be a minority Parliament, with the party with the highest number of seats looking to form government. Minorities are generally more volatile as their stability relies on cross-party agreements or support to be able to advance policy.
What happens to Parliament and government during a campaign?
As soon as the election was called, the current Parliament was dissolved, meaning all business before the House and Senate gets wiped away, and the House essentially ceases to exist, meaning there won’t be a sitting, and no documents can be tabled.
In this case, the 43rd Parliament has come to an end, and after the election the 44th will begin. Any bills or motions that a returning member wants to advance, have to be re-introduced.
The government, and the bureaucracy in each federal department and agency enter into what's called "caretaker" mode, where the general approach is to keep the lights on and the machinery of government humming.
During this period, government decisions and announcements are restricted to routine, non-controversial, emergency or urgent matters in the public interest, easily reversible by a new government, or agreed to by the opposition parties.
When are the official debates?
The Debate Broadcast Group will be holding two official leaders’ debates, both taking place at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.
The French-language debate will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 8, and the English debate will be held on Thursday, Sept. 9.
For the first time, a Debates Commissioner led the efforts to organize two national leaders' debates during the election, one in French and one in English.
Both debates are happening at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. and each will be moderated by five journalists.
We will have live coverage of the debates across CTV News platforms, including real-time fact checking of what the leaders are saying.
For more information on how to watch the debates, check out our comprehensive rundown.
What concerns are there about disinformation in this election?
The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of disinformation, one that has fuelled the growth of online communities devoted to using conspiracy theories and deceptive information to bolster political movements.
In the lead up to the campaign, Canadian security agencies cautioned that this so-called "infodemic" has created new narratives for online groups to amplify falsehoods and decrease confidence in elections or weaken trust in democratic institutions with the help of social media.
And although social media companies have taken steps to combat the spread of misinformation, experts say Canadians should be more on-guard than ever for divisive online campaigns that aim to sway opinion.
CTVNews.ca is publishing regular "Truth Tracker" features where we fact check information being spread online. See a story or post circulating on social media that you think may be disinformation or in need of fact-checking? Let us know by sharing with us the link to the post or the source of the information. You can email us by clicking here or visit our Newsbreaker page.
CTV National News will also be regularly digging in to disinformation and the promises the leaders make.
How do I get the latest election news?
Easy! Sign up to receive special election push alerts from CTVNews.ca. You will receive:
- breaking news alerts
- daily polling numbers
- links to the Truth Tracker
- leaders' debate updates
- exclusive content, and more.
Where can I watch designated election coverage?
A few places. On our special election webpage, and nightly on CTV News Channel and CTV National News, Canada's #1 national newscast.
Specific shows to set your PVR for:
- Power Play, the daily marquee political program, which during the campaign will air on CTV News Channel weekdays from 5 to 7 p.m. ET;
- Question Period, the national political landmark and must-see for political junkies, which airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on CTV.
Of course, you can also watch these shows live or on-demand on CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca, the CTV News App and on our digital streaming platforms.
How to stay on top of the conversation on social media?
You can follow these hashtags:
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