News, Politics

Canada To Vote October 21

Photo: David Wise

It’s official. Canadians will go to the polls to vote in a federal election on October 21.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a visit to Governor General Julie Payette to ask her to “dissolve Parliament,” the protocol that launches a federal election.

The main political party leaders–and the people in their parties who will try to get votes, in order to become Members of Parliament (MPs)–began campaigning.

From now until the election, the leaders and candidates will try to let voters know why they should vote for them. There are many ways they do that. They (or their helpers) visit people’s homes to chat with them, call them on the phone, make speeches, talk to journalists and participate in “debates.”

Debates are staged interviews with the leaders of the main political parties. A “moderator” asks the leaders questions. The leaders get a few minutes to answer the questions or respond to other leaders’ comments.

In that way, voters can hear what each person’s views are and how they would lead if they were elected. That helps voters decide who they want to vote for.

There has been one debate already. On September 12, Andrew Scheer (leader of the Conservative Party), Jagmeet Singh (leader of the NDP) and Elizabeth May (leader of the Green Party) discussed the issues in a debate hosted by Maclean’s magazine and CITY TV.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberals, chose not to attend the first debate, although there was a podium set up for him in case he did show up. (He didn’t, but he will likely attend one of the upcoming debates.)

There will be other debates during the election campaign, including an English-language debate scheduled for October 7 and a debate in French scheduled for October 10.

As well, journalists across Canada are publishing many articles and videos about the issues that voters care about and the “platforms” of the candidates. (In this case, a “platform” is a list of things a politician or a political party cares about and believes in.)


1. There are more Canadian political parties than just the four mentioned in this article. What are they? Why do election articles often focus on the four mentioned here? Is it okay to focus on certain ones or should journalists always include all of the parties?

2. Debates are a major way that voters get information about the candidates. Scroll down in this Wikipedia article to the “Leaders’ debates” section to learn more about the rules around debates and who is allowed to participate in them.

3. This TKN article says that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not attend the first debate. Why do you think he chose not to attend?

4. Canada has two official languages: English and French. Political debates take place in both languages. How do you think this affects the candidates? The voters?

5. From now until October 21, there will be a lot of information in all Canadian media about the election campaign. Which sources of information would you use, if you could vote in this election? How would you find out what you needed to know, in order to decide who to vote for?


1. The article mentions “protocol.” Before you look that word up, what do you think it means, based on the way it’s used in the sentence? Look it up; did it mean what you thought it meant? What is another word or phrase that could have been used instead of protocol?

2. What does the word “campaign” mean? Does it have secondary meanings?


UPDATE (Sept. 19, 2019): Here is a really terrific list of election resources from the CBC, to help you track the election.

For information about how journalists cover a federal election in Canada, read the Toronto Star Classroom Connection’s “For the Record” election article, written by TKN’s Joyce Grant.

Elections Canada is the organization that runs Canada’s federal elections. Visit their website for more information about voting and how the election is run.

Where are the leaders campaigning? If you Google key words like “where are Canadian leaders?” you’ll come up with some websites that list where the party leaders are campaigning every day. For instance, this CBC website tells you where they are on Day 6.