By Sarah Kitteringham
CALGARY — Prime Minister Stephen Harper called an early election on August 2nd, making the upcoming 42nd federal election the lengthiest in recent history at 11 weeks long. With a heated three-way race emerging between the majority Conservative Party of Canada, New Democratic Party, and Liberal Party of Canada, opinion polls conducted have indicated that Canadians are firmly split, with numbers hovering at around 30 per cent support for each of them. Of course, several other parties including the Green Party of Canada, Bloc Québécois, Communist Party of Canada, Pirate Party of Canada, and more are also vying for positions.
The 2015 election cycle is unusual. There are a record number of 338 seats in Parliament, 30 of which are newly available thanks to new ridings and a major redrawing of riding boundaries. In addition, more than 60 MPs are retiring, leaving a record number of open seats for the incoming Members of Parliament. Political unrest also has a potential to change the nature of our Parliament, as Canadians are split over a myriad of concerns, including frustration over a lagging economy, environmental concerns and suppression of scientists, potential swathes of strategic voters, the notorious and divisive Bill C-51 and how Canadian politics can respond to or combat against terrorism, and the controversial Fair Elections Act.
Given that there will be an unusually large number of unfamiliar candidates running in the upcoming election, many Canadians may vote on a party basis rather than for their specific candidate. If you’d like to get to know the candidates in your Alberta riding, the Calgary Herald has an interactive electoral map available at http://calgaryherald.com/alberta-electoral-map-2015.
Although many fringe candidates and parties exist, the Conservative Party, New Democratic Party, Liberal Party and Green Party are the only four parties whom have candidates in every Alberta riding. If you’d like to learn more about the platform of the party your candidate belongs to, visit http://www.conservative.ca/, http://www.ndp.ca/, https://www.liberal.ca/, or http://www.greenparty.ca/.
For those undecided on the political spectrum or interested in strategic voting, there are many resources that can assist you. Visit http://www.votecompass.com/ to see how your personal views align with the party’s platforms. Another excellent source for determining the party you align with is https://canada.isidewith.com/.
If you are interested in strategic voting, the Leadnow project has a Vote Together campaign to “end 10 years of Harper rule” you can utilize at http://www.votetogether.ca/. Another source for those who’d like to vote Harper out is http://www.strategicvoting.ca/.
As for when and where one can vote, visit the Elections Canada website at http://www.elections.ca/ to ensure you are registered to vote. Although Election Day is on Monday, October 19th, advance voting takes place on Friday, October 9th until Monday, October 12th. You may also vote at one of 400 Elections Canada offices, or by mail. If you vote in person, because you must prove your identity and address to register and vote in a federal election, be sure that you have an updated government issued ID card with your address. If you do not have an updated ID, check Elections Canada for what requirements you must fulfill before you may vote. If you are a first-time voter or student, this is of particular importance.
If you’re interested in the future of Canada and how the government will create and enforce legislation on health care, surveillance, native funding, energy, incarceration, terrorism, education, and more, consider voting this October. Your vote does make a difference and it counts.
Vote in person on October 19th, 2015. Visit http://www.elections.ca/ to ensure you are eligible to vote and learn where your polling station is.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Canadian election 2015, Conservatives, Elections Canada, Elizabeth May, Green Party, Justin Trudeau, Liberals, Manitoba, MB, NDP, Stephen Harper, strategic voting, Tom Mulcair