The aim of the article is to help Canadians understand the federal election process and to better understand the platforms of each of the candidates for the upcoming election.
A form of democracy founded on the idea that elected persons can represent a group of people.
Geographically bounded areas divided for the purpose of electing members to a legislative body. Each electoral district is represented by a candidate, and generally, only voters who live within the geographical boundaries of an electoral district are allowed to vote in an election held there.
Dissolution of Parliament
The process of stopping parliamentary business in preparation for an election.
A formal written order directing election officers in each district to hold an election.
A candidate who is registered as an independent or with no party preference or who is registered with a political party that is not eligible for recognition on the ballot.
First Past the Post
In every electoral district, the candidate with the highest number of votes wins a seat in the House of Commons and represents that electoral district as its member of Parliament. An absolute majority (more than 50% of the votes in the district) is not required for a candidate to be elected.
Multigenerational Home Renovation Tax Credit
Part of the Liberal Housing Plan, it is for families looking to add a secondary unit to their home for the purposes of allowing an immediate or extended family member to live with them.
A piece of government legislation that aims to overhaul both the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency Act, changing how major infrastructure projects are reviewed and approved in Canada.
A federal bill that introduced laws to significantly limit Canada’s ability to export crude oil to growing global markets in Asia. The bill would prevent large oil tankers from anchoring, loading or unloading, and transporting oil and other petroleum products along British Columbia’s northern coast. The moratorium zone would extend from the Canada-Alaska border to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.
When a landlord evicts a tenant by claiming they will be completing major renovations or will be demolishing the unit or converting it for commercial use.
Super Employment Insurance (EI)
Temporarily provides more generous benefits when a province goes into recession. It would return to normal levels once the recession has ended, as proven by 3 months of job gains.
Shannen’s Dream is about making sure that First Nations children and youth have the same education opportunities as others but in ways that respect their language and culture and takes into account that they may not be starting from the same place.
Jordan’s Principle makes sure all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need when they need them. Funding can help with a wide range of health, social and educational needs, including the unique needs that First Nations Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA children and youth and those with disabilities may have.
The Federal Election Process
During a federal election, all Canadian citizens that are at least 18 years of age on election day can vote in their electoral district; but there are certain steps that must be taken before voters can exercise their right to vote.
Step 1: Dissolution of Parliament
Step 1: Dissolution of Parliament
Before candidates start campaigning and voters can vote, the government must end all business in Parliament. In order for this to happen:
The Prime Minister must ask the Governor General to dissolve Parliament
The Government General will then direct the Chief Electoral Officer to issue the writs of election
The Chief Electoral Officer issues the writs
Elections Canada sends a preliminary list of voters to the returning officers; this tells them who is registered to vote in their district.
Since May 2007, the Canada Elections Act provides a general election to be held on a fixed date; the 3rd Monday of October every 4 years. However, the Act does not prevent a general election from being called earlier or later as long as it is no later than 5 years after the previous election.
Step 2: Candidate Nominations
Step 2: Candidate Nominations
Political parties must choose candidates to represent their interests during an election. As soon as election writs are issued, each party must decide who will represent each of their districts. Alternatively, a candidate can run for election without party affiliation, choosing instead to be an independent or running with no affiliation. The right to run in a federal election is protected by the Candian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Basic Candidate Requirements:
Must be a Canadian citizen
Must be 18 years of age or older on election day
Must either submit a Nomination Paper or an online nomination form to Elections Canada
You cannot be:
A member of the legislative assembly of a province or territory
The Chief Electoral Officer
A judge appointed by the Governor in Council
An election officer
A person imprisioned in a correctional institution
Step 3: Campaigning
Step 3: Campaigning
Once the election writs have been issued, candidates can start campaigning. The election or campaign period must last for a minimum of 36 days, and last no more than 50 days. During the campaigning period, the goal of the parties and candidates is to convince voters that they are the best person for the job. To achieve this, parties and their candidates will:
Promote their platform
Conduct door-to-door canvassing to meet with voters
Participate in debates with other party candidates
Step 4: Voting
Step 4: Voting
Voting is a crucial aspect of community and political engagement. In order to vote in a federal election, an individual must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years of age on election day, and be registered to vote. There are several ways to vote when the time comes:
Voting in-person on election day
Voting in-person on advance polling days
Vote at an Elections Canada office
When it comes to the voting process, everyone votes in private. They have the right to choose their preferred candidate on their own, free of any influence. In order to vote, individuals must do the following:
Provide proof of identity and address
Take the ballot recieved from Elections Canada behind a voting screen and mark the name of the desired candidate
Place the ballot in a ballot box
Generally speaking, voting at polling stations is the most common voting option utilized by Canadians. On average, Elections Canada has 20,000 polling stations across the country during an election. It will be interesting to see what changes occur in the upcoming election regarding voting practices; whether or not the pandemic will make mail-in voting more popular among Canadians.
Step 5: Counting & Results
Step 5: Counting & Results
Once the polls have closed, the ballots must be counted in order to find out which candidate won. During this time, the doors of the polling stations are locked, with no one permitted to come or go until the counting is completed. In most cases, an obvious winner will emerge after the ballots are counted, however, sometimes the vote count can be very close or even tied. If the result is a tie or an extremely close call, the ballots will be counted again in a judicial recount. For instance, in an electoral district with over 40,000 votes cast, a judicial recount would be required if a candidate won by less than 40 votes, over which a judge would preside.
On election night, once the polls in a district are closed, preliminary results are announced and published on Elections Canada’s website as they become available. These results are then shared by media outlets such as TV stations, newspapers and social media accounts.
Step 6: Parliament Resumes
Step 6: Parliament Resumes
The candidate with the most votes in their district becomes their member of parliament (MP) and representing the district in the House of Commons. The political party that has the most MPs is usually the one to form the government. The leader of that party normally becomes the prime minister. The prime minister and their party will serve as the Government of Canada until parliament is next dissolved and the election process begins once again.
2021 Federal Party Leaders
To date, there has been a number of promises set out by each party leader. To get a better understanding of each party leader and their platforms, we’ve put the following information together for each candidate.
Liberal Party: Justin Trudeau
Liberal Party Leader: Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau is the 23rd and current Prime Minister of Canada. Trudeau has held this position since November 2015 and has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 2013. In an attempt to gain more seats in Parliament and achieve a Liberal majority, the Prime Minister called for an early federal election – 2 years ahead of schedule. He states the election is about determining a Liberal mandate to rebuild the nation post-pandemic.
While Trudeau’s Liberal government has managed some accomplishments, overall it has struggled to keep up with the values and commitments that it advertised. Such as the promises made regarding climate action and reconciliation efforts.
The 2021 Liberal Party Plan is more specific than some of the other parties, but it skips over a number of important topics, such as reconciliation and details on climate change action.
Reduce monthly mortgage costs by reducing the price charged by Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation on mortgage insurance by 25%; according to the Liberal Party this should save the average Canadian about $6,100
Place a ban on blind bidding and new foreign ownership for the next 2 years
Expand the upcoming tax on vacant housing
Put a stop to the renovictions occuring by deterring unfair rent increases
Build, preserve or repair 1.4M homes in the next 4 years
The immediate investment of $6B in addition to the $4B already committed to support the elimination of health system waitlists
Invest $3B to hire 7.5K family doctors, nurses, and nurse practioners over 4 years
Expand virtual health care services for more flexibility
Increase student loan forgiveness for an expanded list of health professionals who choose to work in rural areas
Establish a tax incentive to make it easier to set up health practices in rural and remote regions
Energy & Environment:
The training of 1,000 new community-based firefighters and helping in the provision of the equipment they need to keep themselves and others safe
Help Canadians make their homes more resilient to the impacts of climate change
Plan to partner with the private sector to innovate climate adaptation
Extend COVID-19 related insurance coverage for media production stoppages to support 150,000 jobs
Support the country’s tourism industry with tempoary wage and rent support of up to 75% of their expenses to help them through the winter months
Provide all federally regulated workers with 10 days of paid sick leave (pending amendments to the Canadian labour code)
A 50% reduction in the average fees for early childhood learning by the end of the year
A reduction in childcare fees to $10/day on average over the next 5 years (all provinces other than Quebec)
The investment of up to $30B, over a 5-year period (with a minimum of $9.2B per year) to establish a Canada-wide childcare system
The generation of a minimum of $2.5B per year over the next 4 years by raising corporate income tax on the largest banks and insurers; this would include raising corporate income tax rate by 3%, from 15 – 18%, on all earinings over $1B at banks and insurance companies
The introduction of a tax credit for small businesses to aid in the investment of better ventiliation – claims will cover 25% of eligible expenses up to $10K per location and a maximum of $50K per company
Conservative Party: Erin O’Toole
Conservative Party: Erin O’Toole
Erin O’Toole started his career in business, focusing on advocacy and the law, and engaging with leaders from various sectors. He believes that this time working in business revealed the critical roles that entrepreneurs and small business owners play in job creation.
O’Toole first entered parliament after winning the by-election of Durham in 2012. From there, he was appointed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade and became the Minister of Veterans Affairs in 2015. In 2020 Erin O’Toole was elected as the Leader of the Conservative Party. Overall, the Conservative Party Plan is 83 pages long and is very thorough.
The 2021 Conservative Party Platform
Energy & Environment:
Introduce a low carbon savings account to “enable Canadians to save money every time they fuel up” with the hope that these savings will go towards purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) or “green” home improvements
Make Canada a leader in zero emissions vehicles by building them in Canada, upgrading the electricity grid, and investing in new energy technologies such as hydrogen-powered vehicles
Reduce carbon emissions from industry and meet national 2030 Paris targets, while keeping pace with the US and EU
Stand up for Canada’s workersaand businesses through carbon border tariffs that push major polluters to clean up their act, while securing Canada’s growth
Ramp up Canadian research and production capacity by making Canada one of the best jurisdictions in the world for pharmacuetical research and development in addition to production of vaccines and medicines
Overhaul Canada’s Pandemic Plan and preparedness to include domestic vaccine research, trials development and manufacturing capacity and readiness
Review Health Canada’s regulatory processes and the balance between Canada’s industrial, health, ad economic relationships with the global biomanufacturing sector
Reinstate the tariff on imported PPE
Work with the US to strengthen the North American supply chain for pharmaceuticals and reduce the shared reliance on imports
Overhaul federal lab testing processes
Develop evidence-based contract tracing systems for our borders and in support of public health efforts
Overhaul Canada’s public health intelligence gathering systems and risk communications infrastructure
Partner with the private sector rather than over-rely on government
Corporate Taxes & Fiscal Planning:
Ensure that foreign technology companies pay their “fair share of taxes” including sales and digital services tax
Pledged to balance the budget over the next 10 years
Established a jobs plan that aims to lower the unemployment rate
Aims to have 1M homes built across the country in the next 3 years
Ban foreign investors not living in or moving to Canada from buying homes for a 2-year period
Wants to adjust mortgage stress tests to stop discrimination against small business owners, contractors and other non-permanent employees (e.g., casual workers)
Take immediate action to help the hardest hit sectors, helping those who have suffered the most
Rebuilding Main Streetby assisting small business and providing incentives to invest in, rebuild, and start new businesses
Creating opportunity in all sectors of the economy and all parts of the country
The establishment of “Super EI”
Boost funding to the provinces for mental health care
Provide incentives to employers to provide mental health coverage to employees
Create a nation-wide, 3-digit suicide prevention hotline
Support public conservation education initiatives
Create a fund to incentivize educational institutions and private sector organizations to partner with women’s shelters to provide career training for the women they serve
Work with the Council of Ministers of Education to promote humane education as part of education on hthe environment and sustainability
Funding educational initiatives that teach Canadans about veterans’ service and Canada’s place in the world
Defund programs aligned against Canadian values and replace with them new education initiatives
Rejects the Liberal’s vision for a nationl universal child-care system, instead proposing a refundable child-care tax credit between $4,560 and $6,000 for lower income families
Utilize the existig infrastructure of Indigenous national organizations to proivide capacity-building and business education to enhance and promote Inidgenous business success and success stories
New Democratic Party (NDP): Jagmeet Singh
New Democratic Party: Jagmeet Singh
Jagmeet Singh served as an Ontario MPP from 2011 until 2017, when he became the leader of Canada’s NDP. Singh is a second-generation Canadian, who found politics in 2011 after spending his years at university as an activist and studying law so that he could support community organizations fighting poverty, keep tuition affordable, and advocate for equal access to justice for marginalized communities. While the NDP did not win during the last federal election, the party has gained considerable popularity with the country’s youth, potentially snagging some of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal base.
The 2021 New Democratic Party Platform
Education & Childcare:
Student loan forgiveness (up to $20K), ending interest charges on student loans, and permanently doubling non-repayable Canada Student Grants
Make childcare affordable and available to everyone with a universal $10/day childcare system
Employment & Economy:
Raise the minimum EI benefits to $2K, allowing people to rely on EI if they want to further improve their education, and improving upon the system for the self-employed
Fight for a fairer deal for workers – one that includes paid sick leave, a living wage, stronger bargaining rights, and more
Help small businesses in their recovery and to help them to expand and thrive via wage and rent subsidies, hiring bonuses, and caps on credit card fees
Make job training and lifelong learning more accessible for all
Support trade deals that are fair, respect human rights, protect the environment, and put the interests of Canadian workers and communities first
A temporary 15% tax on large companies that experienced windfall profits during the pandemic
Raise the corporate tax rate by 3% to become 18%
Pledges to balance the budget “when its prudent to do so”
Energy & Environment:
Plans to achieve our global commitments with impactful emissions targets, eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, taking on big polluters, and more
Job creation in all regions to support skilled workers neeed to build a low-carbon economy
Investments to retrofit all buildings in Canada by 2050, requirements that new buildings be net-zero, and a new Civilian Climate Corps
Modernize and expand public transit, make it easier to buy and drive Canadian-made zero-emission vehicles, and the promotion of active transportation
Set a target to power Canada with net-zero electricity by 2030, providing support to introduce smart grid technology, and invest in innovative community-owned and operated clean energy projects
Move to 100% non-emitting electricity by 2040
The immediate ban of single-use plastics, enshrining the right to a healthy environment in a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights, enforcement of big oil companies paying to clean up inactive wells, and more
Place people at the centre of climate policy by prioritizing the needs of workers, addressing inequities at home, and upholding Indigenous rights
Healthcare & Well-Being:
Strengthen public healthcare by introducing a universal pharmacare program, working with provinces and territories to reduce wait times, increasing our domestic production capacity of vaccines, PPE and more
Fill gaps in public health care to increase access to services such as dental, vision, mental health, and prescription medications
Take immediate action to fix the opioid crisis, starting with an official declaration of a public health emergency, ending the criminalization and stigma of drug addiction, and supporting overdose prevention sites
The introduction of a national school nutrition program, connecting Canadian farmers to local initiatives, and supporting Indigenous food sovereignty
Put an end to for-profit longterm care and introduce national care standards
Remove barriers for those living with disabilities with things like a guaranteed livable income, expanded employment programs, a publicly funded national pharmacare and dental care program, and more
Protect pensions that workers have earned, and that starts with making sure pensioners are at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt
Establishment of a National Seniors Strategy to make seniors healthcare a priorty, reduce isolation, and tackle seniors’ poverty
Support veterans through equal access to lifetime pensions, expand the caregiver allowance, and put supports in place to end veteran homelessness
Tackle poverty with things like more affordable housing, better access to mental health and addictions support, and a national pharmacare program
A promise to deliver comprehensive prescription coverage for everyone regardless of their employment, geography, age, health status, or income level
Put an end to the housing crisis by providing safe and affordable housing in every Indigenous community through a fully-funded Indigenous National Housing Strategy
Ensure every child is provided a safe place to learn and an opportunity to succeed by implementing Shannen’s Dream of equitable access to education, expanding financial assistance for post-secondary education, and creating Indigenous history education programs for all Canadians
Full funding of services and infrastructure needed to end boil-water advisories, improve public transportation, and increase the use of renewable energy
Close the health gap in Indigenous communities and support Indigenous health self-determination with things like better access to mental health and addictions support and an evidence-based action plan to prevent suicide
Job creation and opportunity expansion for Indigenous peoples by supporting locally-driven economic development by working with Indigenous entrepreneurs, investments in infrastructure and public service, and expanded access to broadband internet and cell service for rural and remote communities
Work in partnership with Indigenous women, the families of the missing and murdered, and Inidgenous communities to implement the Inquiry’s Calls for Justice, and the calls to action brought forward by communities
Work to end systemic discrimination against Indigenous peoples within the justice system through programs that focus on healing and restorative justice in addition to a First Nations justice and policing strategy
Ensure that First Nations, Inuit and the Metis leadership have a seat at high-level decision-making tables and developing coordinated action plans to respond to climate change emergencies like wildfires and floods
Committed to not only uncovering the full truth behind the residental school system genocides, but also taking meaningful action towards seeking accountability and justice from those who inflicted harm
Communities & Housing:
Declare high-speed internet an essential service, introducing price caps and abolishing data caps
Invest in things like affordable housing, public transit, and green infrastructure
Build over 500K units of affordable housing, give immediate relief to renters who need it, and stop big-money investors from driving up housing costs
Introduce 30-year terms on mortgages insured by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
20% tax on homes purchased by foreign buyers
Waive federal portion of GHT/HST on construction of new affordable rental units
Protect Canada’s heritage and support a strong, independent Canadian arts and culture industry by working with communities to ensure artists earn a decent living, supporting Indigenous theatre, and ensuring multinational web giants play by the same rules as Canadian broadcasters
Improve access to in-person services in Northern and rural communities, improving high-speed internet access across the country, and investing in affordable public transit
Justice & Governance:
Work on clearing backlogs, better protecting newcomers, and resettling refugees
Tackle rising gun crime, end police violence with a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate use of force, and increase funding for anti-gang and anti-radicalization projects to protect youth
Immediately end the discriminatory blood ban, increase access to gender confirming procedures and medications, and ban conversion therapy,
Establish a National Action Plan that will work to dismantle far-right extremeist organizations, immediately banning carding by the RCMP, and collecting race-based data on health, employment, and policing
Improve access to services in a range of languages, ensure judges on the Supreme Court are bilingual, and promote and revitalize Indigenous languages
Reduce reliance on mandatory minimums, expunging criminal records for Canadians convicted of minor cannabis possession, and increasing federal funding for legal aid programs
Take immediate steps towards boosting accountability, ending insider benefits, and taking the influence of big money out of the government for good
Provide proportional representation that works for Canada and promise to do it in their first mandate in government
Provide better support, equipment, and a strategic mandate for the Canadian military
Green Party: Annamie Paul
Green Party: Annamie Paul
Annamie Paul is a second-generation Canadian, who comes from a family of dedicated public servants, and has been engaged in public service from an early age. Paul is a student of law, having studied at the University of Ottawa, where she engaged in student government, human rights, and community service, and worked as a Page in the Senate of Canada. She interned in the Ontario Legislature Internship Programme and went on to pursue a Masters of Public Affairs at Princeton University. When she returned to Canada, she founded the Canadian Centre for Political Leadership – an organization focused on increasing the representation of equity-seeking groups in politics and public policy.
In the 2019 election, Paul ran as the Green candidate in Toronto Centre, achieving a tripling of the Green vote, and was also the Green Party’s International Affairs Critic. In October 2020, Annamie Paul was elected as the leader of the Green Party of Canada, making history as the first woman of colour, the first Black person, and the first Jewish woman elected to lead a major federal political party.
The 2021 Green Party Platform
Scrap Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system
Create a new electoral system that places value on every vote, encourages cross-party collaboration and unity, allows for the adoption of stable, long-term policies, encourages greater participation and voter turnout, and increases Canadian political literacy
Shut down the underground economy and ensure proper taxation; it will cost far less than it does presently to maintain social systems and cover the costs poverty imposes on our society
Modernize social safety networks before automation, AI, and the gig economy decimate traditional labour markets
Implement a National Housing Strategy to provide every Canadian with a place to call home
Create a culturally-sensitive Housing First approach to provide immediate support for those experiencing chronic homelessness
Increase access to social housing for Idnigenous peoples living on and off reserve
Invest in the cooperative housing sector to invigorate the new, affordable housing market and sustain existing coops facing liquidation
GreenEconomy & Employment:
Create more green jobs and grow Canada’s middle class and strengthen its global competitiveness
Focus and invest in the green industries that create reliable, long-term jobs and diversify local value chains
Use national investments to to meet city infrastructure needs, encouraging smart growth and lifting up Canadian workers
Develop a Sustainable Generations Fund to invest in green training for trades, apprenticeships and education facilities
Create targeted national infrastructure investments in renewable and efficient energy production, digital upgrades, clean-tech manufacturing and ecotourism
Incentivize homeowners to update their appliances to energy efficient solutions through an expanded home renovation tax credit
Invest in tourism, which contributes more to Canada’s GDP than mining, telecommunications, and food manufacturing
Fund community supported agriculture, farmers markets, small-scale farms and producers, and the wineries and microbreweries
Establish Green Worker Training Programs that teach fossil fuel workers the renewable energy industries
Slash greenhouse gas emissions by 60% by 2030 and to zero by 2050
Establish an inner cabinet, akin to the World War 2 “War Cabinets” to ensure partisan politics are taken out of the fight for survival
End all fossil fuel industry subsidies
Implement a Canadian climate and energy strategy that includes robust plans to build and sustain the green economy
Lead a movement to divest from fossil fuels, starting at the federal level
Invest in a Canadian Grid Strategy to deliver 100% renewable electricity across Canada
Give incentives to Canadians to retrofit their homes and prompt our entrepreneurs to develop green technologies
Retrofit all buildings in Canada; residential, commercial, and institutional to high energy efficiency standards
Introduce a revenue-neutral price on carbon pollution through a fee and dividend system
Rapidly phase out coal-fired electricity and transition to a prosperous decarbonized ecoonmy
Develop a global plan to reduce emissions from international aviation and shipping
Launch a massive tree-planting initiative in our hinterlands and urban centres
Prepare for those levels of climate crisis that are no longer avoidable; assist farmers, fishers, and others in vulnerable sectors to adapt and thrive
Buy water bombers, build fire breaks, fortify dikes and dams, and protect Canadians from climate emergencies of all sorts
Expand public health care to include pharmacare, established a Crown corporation to bulk purchase and dispense prescription drugs, and providing much needed coverage to the 1 in 3 Canadians forced to pay for prescription medication
Include basic dental care in national coverage
Extend dental care to low income children
Fund non-institutionalized, community-based support for substance-abuse prevention and rehabilitation programs
Create a national drug reduction strategy and develop more safe injection sites
Regulate the distribution of pharmaceuticals prescribed by doctors to track and prevent dangerous levels of over-medication and prevent opiod addiction
Develop national healthcare guidelines that incentivize active lifestyles as well as healthy diets and choices
Treat drug addiction as a public health issue, not a crime
Adopt student debt cancellation programs for student debt that exceeds $10K
Institute a Community and Environment Service Corps to support youth employment, and research and development in crucial Canadian sectors
Invest in the green economy and create new green apprenticeship programs for young Canadians