The federal election is less than two weeks away, but lots of Canadians are still not paying attention to the campaign. On the Mount Royal campus last week, many students approached for this article weren't interested in talking, often because of a lack of knowledge about politics.
People don't vote for many reasons, but in the October 2015 election, of the 23 per cent of eligible voters who did not cast a ballot, 32 per cent said it was because they weren't interested in politics.
If you fall into this category, this guide may help you sift through the basic information, so you can cast an informed ballot on election day.
What happened at the last federal election?
In 2015, the Liberal party, led by Justin Trudeau, won a majority government taking 184 of 338 seats. They defeated the Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, who won 99 seats, becoming the official opposition in parliament. The NDP also won 44 seats , the Bloc Quebecois 10 and the Green Party won one seat.
What is this year's election going to look like?
The 43rd Canadian general election will take place on Monday, Oct. 21.
Trudeau’s Liberal’s are going up against five other parties:
- The Conservative Party of Canada (CPC), lead by Andrew Scheer
- The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Canada, lead by Jagmeet Singh
- The Bloc Québécois, lead by Yves-François Blanchet
- The Green Party of Canada, lead by Elizabeth May
- The People's Party of Canada (PPC), lead by Maxime Bernier
But what do these parties stand for and where can you find more information? Below is a brief breakdown of all their platforms.
The Liberal Party is the oldest party in Canada.
Today, they favour a free market economy that is not subjected to overly burdensome regulations. Their platform says they raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. The party has also promised to increase the amount you can earn before paying income tax to $15,000 from the current $12,309.
The party is a strong supporter of unrestricted abortion, LGBTQ+ rights and high rates of immigration. Liberals push for more social programs, such as universal health care and pension funds for seniors.
On the issue of climate change, the Liberals imposed a federal carbon tax last year. They pledge to continue to reduce emissions through initiatives such as planting 2-billion trees over the next decade, banning single use plastics and restoring wetlands and coastal habitat.
Want more information about the Liberals? Visit their website by clicking here.
In 2003, the Conservative Party of Canada was officially formed through a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party.
The party has not released its platform yet, but says it will do so on Oct. 11. Currently, the party favours low taxes, a smaller, less intrusive government, a strong regime of law-and-order, a strong military and a respect for traditional values.
During the campaign, party leader Andrew Scheer’s views on abortion and other social issues have come under scruity. On the issue of abortion, Scheer is personally is pro-life. However, he has stated that if elected to form government, the Conservative Party will not legislate on divisive social issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.
Regarding climate change, the party is committed to setting emission standards for major emitters that produce more than 40 kilotonnes per year of greenhouse gases. They will set these standards by investing in private-sector research towards the development of green technology.
Want more information about the Conservatives? Visit their website by clicking here.
The New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP) was founded in 1961 out of a merger of existing socialist parties. They favour a mixed economy that the government tightly regulates, but does not run.
When it comes to social issues, the NDP are against racism, discrimination, homophobia and transphobia. Their platform pledges, among other things, to ban conversion therapy for minors and help resettle LGBTQI2S+ refugees from around the world.
The party takes a more aggressive approach when it comes to taxing the wealthy and large corporations. For example, they pledge to roll-back the Conservatives 2010 corporate tax cuts by three per cent if elected to government.
Regarding climate change, the NDP plans to reduce 450 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To do this, they would implement a number of measures, including carbon pricing, subsidies for green vehicles and supports for green energy.
In 2017, the party elected the first non-white person to lead a Canadian political party, Jagmeet Singh.
Want more information about the NDP? Visit their website by clicking here.
The Bloc Quebecois is Canada’s leading separatist political party. It is also the only party that solely runs in the province of Quebec, making it impossible for people in other provinces to vote for their party.
Want more information about the Bloc? Visit their website by clicking here.
The Green Party is best known for its strong stance on the environment. The party supports other various policies, such as strengthening participatory democracy, nonviolence, social justice, sustainability, respect for diversity and ecological wisdom.
Want more information about the Green Party? Visit their website by clicking here.
This party is new to this year’s federal election. They formed just over a year ago, after former Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier split from the party over policy disagreements.
The party’s policies are mostly more right-wing than the Conservatives and some candidates have attracted controversy this election over their extreme views. One candidate in New Brunswick even quit mid-campaign, saying Bernier is divisive and doing harm to the country.
Calgary Journal reporter, Chelsey Mutter, had an exclusive interview last month with Bernier to discuss more about what his party stands on certain issues. Read the article here to see what he had to say.
Want more information about the People’s Party? Visit their website by clicking here.
Remember, when you are voting, you are casting a ballot for the candidate in your riding, and not the leader of the respective political parties.
Canada uses a plurality voting system. This system works by having Canadians vote for their respective Member of Parliament (MP). The MP represents only one constituency and seat in the House of Commons. Whichever party has the most seats in the House of Commons wins the election, thus appointing their leader as the Prime Minister of Canada.
If you’re still unsure who to vote for, CBC’s Vote Compass offers a test to help you figure out which party’s views you align with the most. You can also text the CBC elections team to get answers to your election questions.
To receive a detailed history of the political parties, visit Canada Guide’s site.
If you are unsure if you can vote or do not know where to vote, visit Elections Canada.
- By Mollie Smith | @molliesmithj | firstname.lastname@example.org