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Elections in Canada

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Canada holds elections for legislatures or governments in several jurisdictions: for the federal (national) government, provincial and territorial governments, and municipal governments. Elections are also held for self-governing First Nations and for many other public and private organizations including corporations and trade unions. Municipal elections can also be held for both upper-tier (regional municipality or county) and lower-tier (town, village, or city) governments.

Formal elections have occurred in Canada since at least 1792, when both Upper Canada and Lower Canada had their first elections. Canada's first recorded election was held in Halifax in 1758 to elect the 1st General Assembly of Nova Scotia.[1]

All Canadian citizens aged 18 or older who currently reside in Canada as of the polling day[2] (or at any point in their life have resided in Canada, regardless of time away) may vote in federal elections.[3] The most recent Canadian federal election occurred on September 20, 2021.

Elections for other levels of government may have additional residency or ownership requirements. For example, some municipalities allow both residents and non-resident landowners to vote.

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Electoral regulatory bodies

Elections in Canada (federal, provincial, or Territorial) are organised by their respective election regulatory bodies as follows:

Canadian electoral regulatory bodies
Jurisdiction Electoral regulatory body (year established) Periodic oversight of legislative seat contests in any given election Date of most recent major election Next major election scheduled for / required by
Canada Federal Elections Canada (1920) Lower house: All 338 seats in the House of Commons of Canada (every 4 years, on the third Monday of October) 20 September 2021 20 October 2025
 British Columbia Elections BC (1995) Unicameral: All 87 seats in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (every 4 years, on the third Saturday of October) 24 October 2020 19 October 2024
 Alberta Elections Alberta (1977) Unicameral: All 87 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (every 4 years, on the last Monday of May) 29 May 2023 31 May 2027
 Saskatchewan Elections Saskatchewan (1959) Unicameral: All 61 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan (every 4 years, on the last Monday of October) 26 October 2020 28 October 2024
 Manitoba Elections Manitoba (1980) Unicameral: All 57 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba (every 4 years, on the first Tuesday of October) 3 October 2023 5 October 2027
 Ontario Elections Ontario (1919) Unicameral: All 124 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (every 4 years, on the first Thursday of June) 2 June 2022 4 June 2026
 Quebec Élections Québec (1945) Unicameral: All 125 seats in the National Assembly of Quebec (every 4 years, on the first Monday of October) 3 October 2022 5 October 2026
 Nova Scotia Elections Nova Scotia (1991) Unicameral: All 55 seats in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly (every 4 years, on the third Tuesday of July) 17 August 2021 15 July 2025
 New Brunswick Elections New Brunswick (1967) Unicameral: All 49 seats in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick (every 4 years, on the third Monday of October) 14 September 2020 21 October 2024
 Newfoundland and Labrador Elections Newfoundland & Labrador (1991) Unicameral: All 40 seats in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly (every 4 years, on the second Tuesday of October) 25 March 2021 14 October 2025
 Prince Edward Island Elections Prince Edward Island (1965) Unicameral: All 27 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island (every 4 years, on the first Monday of October) 3 April 2023 4 October 2027
 Northwest Territories Elections NWT (1997) Unicameral: All 19 seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories (every 4 years, on the first Tuesday of October) 14 November 2023 5 October 2027
 Yukon Elections Yukon (2002) Unicameral: All 19 seats in the Yukon Legislative Assembly (every 4 years, on the first Monday of November) 12 April 2021 3 November 2025
 Nunavut Elections Nunavut (2003) Unicameral: All 22 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Nunavut (every 4 years, on the last Monday of October) 25 October 2021 27 October 2025

National (federal) elections

The Parliament of Canada has two chambers: the House of Commons has 338 members, elected for a maximum four-year term in single-seat electoral districts, and the Senate has 105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister. Senators are given permanent terms (up to age 75) and thus often serve much longer than the prime minister who was primarily responsible for their appointment.

National elections are governed by the Canada Elections Act and administered by an independent agency, Elections Canada. Using the plurality voting system, Canadians vote for their local Member of Parliament (MP), who represents one specific constituency in the House of Commons. The leader of the party most likely to hold the confidence of the House of Commons becomes the prime minister.

Most MPs are members of a political party, although candidates may stand for election as independents unaffiliated with any political party. Since the practice of listing candidates' party affiliation on ballots began with the 1972 election, the Canada Elections Act has required that all local candidates be directly approved by the leader of their affiliated party, effectively centralizing the candidate nomination process.[4] Once candidates are elected, sitting members of parliament are permitted to "cross the floor" switching party affiliation without having to first resign and restand for office under their new affiliation. Sitting members may also be dismissed from or voluntarily leave their party and become independents. As a result, the distribution of seats by party affiliation often fluctuates in between elections.

Although several parties are typically represented in parliament, Canada has historically had two dominant political parties: the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party, which was preceded by the Progressive Conservative Party and the Conservative Party (1867–1942). Every government since Confederation has been either Liberal or Conservative with the exception of the Unionist government during World War I, which was a coalition of Conservatives and Liberals. However, in the 2011 federal election, the (NDP) New Democratic Party of Canada, came a close second, only behind by a few seats. While other parties have sometimes formed the Official Opposition, the 41st Parliament (2011-2015) was the first in which the Liberals did not form either the government or the Official Opposition.

If a government loses a confidence motion, traditionally the prime minister will ask the governor general to call an election and the governor general follows that advice. However, the viceroy's compliance is not assured; the governor general also has the right to seek out another party leader who might be able to command the confidence of the House and ask them to form a government. This happened in 1926 and is referred to as the King–Byng Affair.

The five-year time limitation is strictly applied to the life of the parliament or assembly in question—this body is not deemed to have been formed until the return of the writs and ceases to exist the moment it is dissolved. It is therefore possible to run slightly longer than five years between election days, as was the case between the 1930 and 1935 elections. Although the law has allowed for a five-year gap between elections, there have in fact only been two five-year gaps in the last 50 years: between 1974 and 1979 and between 1988 and 1993, and there have in fact been six general elections since 2000.

It is also possible for a general election to be delayed should Canada be embroiled in a war or insurrection. This provision was enacted to allow Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden to delay a federal election for about a year during First World War.[citation needed] Since then, the provision has only been used twice, both times by provincial governments—Ontario delayed an election for a few weeks in the year following the Armistice in 1918. Saskatchewan was the only jurisdiction to delay a general election by more than a year, due to World War II, but held an election in 1944, six years after the previous vote.

The Canadian population generally misunderstands the electoral system, with most citizens believing they vote to directly elect their prime ministers.[5] Certain politicians have taken advantage of this misconception of how governments are formed[n 1] and attempts to correct erroneous claims are often delegitimized as politically motivated.[6]


Hugo Cyr found in 2017 that the Canadian media's habit of announcing, before polls close on election nights, which party will form the next government misrepresents the process of the governor general or lieutenant governors appointing cabinet or executive councils, respectively, "as automatic, merely a matter of arithmetic".[7]

Although the leader of the political party that wins the plurality of seats in the elected chamber of parliament is typically called by the governor general or lieutenant governor to form a government, this is not a requirement. The relevant viceroy must appoint as head of government whomever commands the confidence of the elected house. This means a party that does not win the plurality of seats in an election can still govern if it allies itself with another party or other parties in the same legislative chamber, so as to, combined, hold the majority of seats, whether forming a coalition government or not.[8]

Fixed dates

Section 4 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms limits the term of any federal, provincial, or territorial parliament to a maximum of five years after the return of the writs of the last election. On November 6, 2006, the Parliament of Canada amended the Canada Elections Act to introduce a requirement that each federal general election must take place on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year after the previous poll, starting with October 19, 2009.[9][10][11] Since then, all provinces and territories have enacted similar legislation establishing fixed election dates.

These laws, nevertheless, do not curtail the power of the governor general or a provincial lieutenant governor to dissolve a legislature prior to the fixed election date on the advice of the relevant first minister or due to a motion of no confidence.[12]

By-elections and referenda

By-elections can be held between general elections when seats become vacant through the resignation or death of a member. The date of the by-election is determined by the governor general, who must call it between 11 and 180 days after being notified of the seat vacancy by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

The federal government can also hold nationwide referendums on major issues. The last federal referendum was held in 1992, on proposed constitutional changes in the Charlottetown Accord. On occasion, one particular issue will dominate an election, and the election will in a sense be a virtual referendum. The most recent instance of this was the 1988 election, which was considered by most parties to be a referendum on free trade with the United States.


Every Canadian citizen 18 years of age or older has the right to vote, except for the Chief Electoral Officer and the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer. In the Canada Elections Act, inmates serving a sentence of at least two years were prohibited from voting, but on October 31, 2002, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in Sauvé v. Canada that such a law violated the section 3 of the Charter, and was rendered of no force or effect.

The federal National Register of Electors is updated to reflect various changes in the Canadian population, including address changes, reaching voting age, naturalization, and death.[13] Every year, about 3,000,000 address changes are processed by Elections Canada from information obtained from the Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Post (via the National Change of Address service), provincial and territorial motor vehicle registrars, and provincial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists. Every year, about 400,000 Canadians reach voting age and 200,000 Canadians die, resulting in changes to the National Register of Electors based on information obtained from the Canada Revenue Agency, provincial and territorial motor vehicle registrars, and provincial electoral agencies with permanent voters lists. Additionally, over 150,000 individuals a year become naturalized Canadians, and are added to the National Register of Electors by Elections Canada based on information obtained from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Canadian citizens abroad

The Supreme Court of Canada's 2019 decision in Frank v Canada (AG) ruled that non-resident citizens have the right to vote regardless of time living outside of Canada.[14]

While Section Three of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides that "every citizen of Canada has the right to vote",[15] in practice only those citizens 18 years of age or older who resided in Canada or had been abroad for fewer than five years were eligible to vote in federal elections from 1993 to 2019.[16] The five-year limit was originally enacted as part of Bill C-114, An Act to Amend the Canada Elections Act, in 1993; these amendments extended the special ballot to certain prisoners, and Canadians "living or travelling" abroad.[17] Exemptions to the five-year limit existed for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, employees of the federal or a provincial government stationed abroad, employees of certain international organizations, and their cohabitants.[16]

Jean-Pierre Kingsley, then the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada for 15 years, explicitly recommended in his 2015 official post-election report that Parliament remove the five-year limit by amendment, but no action was taken.[18][19]

In May 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in favour of Canadian expatriates Gillian Frank and Jamie Duong's claim that the five-year limit was an unconstitutional restriction on the right to vote, in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, leading to a period of fourteen months during which all Canadian expatriates could apply to be on the register of electors.[20] However, the decision was reversed 2-1 on appeal at the Court of Appeal for Ontario on July 20, 2015, in a judicial opinion citing Canada's history of using a residence-based electoral district system and a justification based on social contract theory, which held that the five-year limit was a permissible limitation of the constitutional right to vote under Section One.[21][22] In response to the appellate court ruling, Elections Canada implemented changes in August 2015 to require expatriates already on the register to declare an intended date of return.[23] The decision from the Court of Appeal was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada, which announced on April 14, 2016 that it would hear the case.[24] The court ultimately overturned the appellate court's decision, with the majority finding that "the disenfranchisement of long-term non-resident citizens not only denies them a fundamental democratic right, but also comes at the expense of their self-worth and their dignity."[25]

Length of election campaigns

The length of election campaigns can vary, but under the Elections Act, the minimum length of a campaign is 36 days and the maximum length of the campaign is 50 days.[26] Also section 5 of the Charter requires that the Parliament sit at least once every twelve months, and thus a campaign would have to conclude in time for returns to be completed and parliament to be called into session within twelve months of the previous sitting. The federal election date must be set on a Monday (or Tuesday if the Monday is a statutory holiday).

The first two elections, the 1867 election and the 1872 election, took place over several weeks.

The 1872 election was both the second shortest and the longest campaign in history. Parliament was dissolved on July 8, 1872, while the writ was dropped on July 15, 1872. Voting occurred from July 20 to October 12. Therefore, the campaign started 12 days after dissolution of Parliament and 5 days after the writ, and was concluded 96 days (13 weeks plus 5 days) after dissolution and 89 days after the writ.[27]

Every subsequent election has occurred on a single day. Of these elections, the longest election campaign, in terms of days from dissolution to election day, was that of 1926 election,[27] following the King–Byng Affair, which lasted 74 days.

In terms of days from writ to election day, the longest campaign had been the 1980 election, which lasted 66 days. It was surpassed by the 2015 election, which was 78 days long from writ to election day, making it the longest campaign for a one-day election, exceeded in length only by that of 1872.

Prior to the adoption of the minimum of 36 days in law, there were six elections that lasted shorter periods of time. The last of these was the 1904 election which occurred many decades before the minimum was imposed.

In practice, the prime minister will generally keep a campaign as brief as is legal and feasible, because spending by parties is strictly limited by the Elections Act. The maximum spending by each party is increased by 1/37th of the maximum for each day that the campaign exceeds 37 days. The 1997, 2000 and 2004 elections were all of the minimum 36 days in length which has led to a common misconception that elections must be 36 days long. However, prior to 1997, elections averaged much longer: aside from the 47-day campaign for the 1993 election and the 51-day campaign for the 1988 Election, the shortest election period after World War II was 57 days and many were over 60 days in length.

Much speculation had surrounded how long the campaign for the 39th federal election would be in 2006, especially as it became certain the election would be called in the weeks preceding Christmas 2005. The government of Joe Clark, which fell on December 13, 1979, recommended a campaign of 66 days for the resulting election, and nothing legal barred a similarly lengthened campaign. In the end, the 2006 election was called on November 29, 2005, for January 23, 2006 — making a 55-day-long campaign.[27]

Provincial and territorial


All of Canada's provinces and territories use the same plurality voting system used in federal elections (First-past-the-post voting). However, since elections are monitored and organized by independent provincial and territorial election commissiona, a province may it's electoral system should its parliament wish to do so. This would not require permission from the federal government or the Parliament of Canada. Federal elections formerly used mixture of first past the post and Plurality block voting; provincial elections formerly used a variety of electoral methods See "Electoral reform" below.

In the ten provinces and Yukon, elections are contested by candidates either representing political parties or running as independents. Territorial elections in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are held on a fully non-partisan basis, due to those territories' use of a consensus government model.


All Canadian provinces and Yukon, have electoral systems dominated by major political parties. In most provinces the leading parties are the same parties prominent at the federal level. However, the provincial party may or may not have an official affiliation with the federal party of the same name. Thus, names of provincial parties can sometimes be misleading when associating a provincial party with a national party, although the respective ideologies are usually fairly similar.

The Conservative Party of Canada has no provincial wings and none of the current provincial Progressive Conservative Parties are formally linked with the federal party as they all predate the 2003 establishment of the federal party, which resulted in the formal disbanding of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Some provincial parties (such as Alberta) formally broke off links with the federal party prior to the merger.

In British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec the provincial Liberal parties are independent of the Liberal Party of Canada, while in the other provinces, the provincial Liberal parties are autonomous entities that retain formal links with the federal party.

All provincial wings of the New Democratic Party are fully integrated with the federal party, and members of the provincial party are automatically also members of the federal party. The Green Party has provincial counterparts that are directly affiliated but do not share membership or organizational structure and support.

In Saskatchewan and Yukon, the political parties, the Saskatchewan Party and the Yukon Party, respectively, have no federal counterpart, although they are both ideologically conservative.


The following table summarizes the results of the most recent provincial and territorial elections. A link to complete lists for each province and territory is below. The winning party is indicated in bold and by the coloured bar at the left of the table.

This table shows the party standings as a result of the most recent election, and not the current representation in legislatures; refer to the articles on the individual houses for the current state.

Province or territory Date of most recent election Progressive Conservative Liberal New Democrat Green Other Conservative Party Other Total seats
Northwest Territories November 14, 2023           191 19
Manitoba October 3, 2023   22 12 34   57
Alberta May 29, 2023   38   49 (United Conservative Party) 87
Prince Edward Island April 3, 2023   22 3   2   27
Quebec October 3, 2022     212     90 (Coalition Avenir Québec) 11 (Québec Solidaire)
3 (Parti Québécois)
Ontario June 2, 2022   83 82 31 1 1 (Independent) 124
Nunavut October 25, 2021           221 22
Nova Scotia August 17, 2021   31 17 6   1 (Independent) 55
Yukon April 12, 2021     82 3   8 (Yukon Party) 19
Newfoundland & Labrador March 25, 2021   13 22 2   3 (Independent) 40
Saskatchewan October 26, 2020       13   48 (Saskatchewan Party) 61
British Columbia October 24, 2020     57 2 28 (BC United3) 87
New Brunswick September 14, 2020   27 17   3 2 (People's Alliance) 49

For lists of general elections in each province and territory, see the infobox at the bottom of the article.

1Note: Nunavut does not have political parties, and political parties in the Northwest Territories were disbanded in 1905. MLAs in both territories are elected as independents and the legislatures function under a consensus government model.

2Note: Provincial Liberal parties that are not affiliated with the federal Liberal Party of Canada.

3Note: Formerly known as the British Columbia Liberal Party.


Municipal elections are held in Canada for the election of local governments. Most provinces hold all of their municipal elections on the same date. Candidates are elected through either ward or at-large systems, every two, three or four years, depending on the province. Plurality block voting is used in at-large elections and where wards elect multiple members; otherwise First past the post is used. (London, Ontario did adopt Instant-runoff voting but has been banned from using that system.)

A minority of locations in Canada have local political parties or election slates, while most locations elect only independents, or where the candidate has party ties, no party identification is allowed on the ballot.

Senate nominee (Alberta)

Adopted and attempted electoral reform

Canada is now the only major country in the world to use only First past the post in its federal and provincial elections. But in past times other systems were used or debated.

By one count, at the provincial level there have been ten instances of electoral reform in Canadian history. All of them were achieved by passage of normal legislation, without referendum.[28] There have been no instances in Canadian history of electoral reform being achieved after the holding of a referendum.

Reforms and attempted reforms are outlined below.

Multiple-member districts replaced by single-member districts -- federal elections, all provinces, two territories various dates

At various times in the 19th and 20th centuries, federal elections and those held in every province used multi-member districts to elect all or some of its members. The systems used included Block Voting, Single transferable voting, Limited voting and a system where each seat was filled through a separate contest. Limited voting usually resulted in mixed multi-party representation, according representation to both the majority and at least the largest minority. STV resulted in mixed multi-party representation and every candidate that had quota were elected, thus every party with substantial backing in the district got some representation.[29][30] Block voting and single-winner contests usually (but not always) resulted in one-party sweeps of the district's seats.[31]

Now federal elections — and all provincial and territorial elections — use only single-member districts, a situation that came about through electoral reform.[32]

Eleven ridings elected multiple MPs (two at a time) at one time or another, between 1867 and 1968. These were Ottawa, West Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax (NS), Cape Breton (NS), Pictou (NS), St. John City and County (NB), Victoria and three in PEI: King's County, Queen's County and Prince County.[31]

All the provinces and territories (except Nunavut) once used multiple-member districts. Most of the multiple-member districts elected just two, but others elected 5 to 7 or more. Ten MLAs were elected in the Winnipeg district from 1920 to 1949.[32]

The provinces and territories switched to electing all their members in single-member districts elected through First past the post in these years:

  • Quebec 1867
  • Ontario 1926
  • North-West Territories 1894 (see 1891 North-West Territories general election)
  • Yukon 1903
  • Manitoba 1954
  • Alberta 1956
  • New Brunswick 1967
  • Saskatchewan 1967
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 1975
  • Nova Scotia 1978
  • BC 1990
  • PEI 1996
  • (PEI's elections were special cases. Each district elected two members. At one time voters who owned property in the district voted for the Councilman while voters resident in the district joined with the property-owners to vote for the Assemblyman. Later the exact same voters were allowed to vote for each of the two members in a district but still each seat was filled in separate contest.)[31]

1886, 1890 Ontario used Limited Voting in Toronto

Toronto's three MPPs were elected through Limited voting, where each voter could cast up to two votes. (Later Toronto MPPs were elected in two-seat districts, with each seat elected separately through single-winner First Past The Post voting. This ended in 1926 when all the MPPs in the province began to be elected in single-member districts.)

1909-1921 Alberta partially adopted Block Voting system

For the 1909, 1913 and 1921 election Alberta adopted multiple-member city-wide districts in one or both of the cities of Edmonton and Calgary. Alberta's two army representatives were elected in 1917 in one contest. Also in 1921, the city of Medicine Hat was a two-seat district. Voters cast multiple votes under the Plurality block voting to elect MLAs.[33]

1914 Manitoba adopted multi-member districts, later brought in STV/FPTP then STV/IRV

In 1914, the three Winnipeg districts -- Winnipeg Centre, Winnipeg South and Winnipeg North — were each given a second member. Each seat was filled through a separate contest. The same system was used in the 1915 election.

In 1920 Winnipeg was made into a ten-member city-wide district. Manitoba began to use Single transferable voting in the new district. Later the province adopted Alternative Voting in single-member rural districts.[32]

In 1949 Winnipeg was divided into three four-seat districts. St. Boniface got a second member and switched from AV to STV to elect its MLAs.[32]

1924 Alberta adopted STV/AV system

After the election of the United Farmers of Alberta in 1921, Alberta maintained its existing mixture of multi-member districts and single-member districts. In 1924 Alberta adopted Single transferable voting in the cities' multi-member districts and the Instant-runoff voting system in single-member rural districts. (It was the first instance in North America where all the members in a legislature were elected through non-plurality methods.) This mixed system was in use until 1956. In 1956 the province brought in consistent single-member districts and First past the post elections. Medicine Hat reverted to being a single-member district before the 1930 election (IRV was then used there).[33]

1922 House of Commons elections

Canadian MP William Charles Good introduced legislation in the House of Commons in June 1922 that would have seen Instant-runoff voting used in each riding where more than two candidates were competing and he also called for demonstration multi-member districts in to provide experience of proportional representation. However the bill was talked out and nothing was changed.[34]

1952, 1953 BC elections used Instant-runoff voting electoral system

In 1952, BC adopted the Alternative Voting system. It retained its mixture of single-member districts and multi-member districts. In the later, it held separate contests for each seat. preferential ballots was used for the first time in a BC general election. After 1953 election the province returned to its previous electoral system, a mixture of single-member and multi-member districts, of Block Voting and FPTP, which in turn was replaced by consistent FPTP single-member-district contests in 1990.[35]

2004 Quebec proposed electoral reform

The Liberal government of Quebec proposed electoral reform in 2004, which was scheduled to be passed in the fall of 2006 without a referendum. The project was postponed due to divergent views on how to improve it.

2005 BC Single Transferable Vote referendum

In a 2005 referendum 57.7% of British Columbians voted in favour of the Single Transferable Vote system. However the government required a vote of 60% to pass the change, and the vote result was ignored.

2005 PEI Provincial MMP referendum

Prince Edward Island held a referendum in 2005 regarding the adoption of mixed member proportional representation. The motion was defeated.[citation needed]

2007 Ontario MMP referendum

A referendum was held in Ontario in 2007 on the question of whether to establish a mixed member proportional representation (MMP) system for elections to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. The vote was strongly in favour of the existing plurality voting or first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.

2008 New Brunswick referendum

A referendum on the issue of electoral reform in New Brunswick was proposed for 2008 by the Progressive Conservative Party, but the party was defeated in the September 2006 election and the new Liberal government cancelled the vote.

2009 BC Proportional Representation Vote referendum

A referendum for the proportional representation (PR) system was held in British Columbia on May 12, 2009. The adoption of PR was defeated, with 61% of voters preferring First past the post (FPTP) over Proportional Representation.[citation needed]

2015 federal election

In the 2015 federal election, both of the main opposition parties (the federal Liberals and NDP) promised to implement electoral reform no later than the next scheduled election. The NDP has long supported Mixed Member Proportional, a hybrid system proposed by the Law Commission in which voters would cast two ballots (one for a riding representative and one for their preferred party, with member elected from a regional and open list).

By comparison, the Liberals led by Justin Trudeau promised to review numerous electoral reform options through an "all party parliamentary committee" and to implement the changes in time for the next election. Trudeau promised to make the 2015 election "Canada's last first-past-the-post election". There are differences between the political parties over which alternative system would be better.

67% of Canadians voted in 2015 for parties that promised to replace the voting system. 88% of experts brought forward by the Liberal government recommending a proportional representation voting system, and 96% rejected Trudeau's preferred Instant-runoff voting system.[36] On December 1, 2016, the all party Special Committee on Electoral Reform released its final report, recommending that the government design a system of proportional representation with a gallagher index score of 5 or less, and hold a national referendum with that system against the current system. The Liberal members of the all party special-committee urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to break his promise to change Canada's voting system.[37][38][39][40][41]

On February 1, 2017, the new Liberal Minister of Democratic Institutions, Karina Gould, announced that Trudeau instructed her that a change of voting system would no longer be in her mandate. She claimed a lack of broad consensus among Canadians in favour of one particular type of electoral voting and that the various political parties could not agree on a new system as reasons for the abandonment of the 2015 election promise.[42] On May 31, 2017, the House of Commons officially rejected the final report of the all party special-committee by a vote of 146-159, with the Conservatives, NDP, BQ, and Greens voting to concur in the report, and the Liberals voting not to, notably, two Liberal MPs, Sean Casey and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith broke whip and voted to concur in the report.[43][44]

During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberal Party of Canada made a promise to implement a process to review the costs of campaign platforms in future elections.[45] It was implemented within an omnibus bill passed in 2017, with responsibility assigned to the Parliamentary Budget Office.[45]

2016 Prince Edward Island electoral reform referendum

The 2016 Plebiscite on Democratic Renewal[46] was a non-binding[47] referendum held in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island between October 27 – November 7, 2016. The referendum asked which of five voting systems residents would prefer to use in electing members to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island.[48][49][50] The referendum was conducted using Instant runoff voting, and no option was the choice of a majority in the first count. After three options were eliminated due to being un-electable, mixed member proportional representation received more than 52% support on the final count. But government ignored the result, holding another referendum in 2019.[51]

2018 British Columbia Electoral Reform Referendum

In accordance to campaign promises, the BC NDP (In a confidence and supply agreement with the Greens) scheduled a plebiscite to be held between October 22 and November 30, 2018, with voting done through mail for those registered to vote.[52] 61.3% of voters voted for retaining First Past The Post.

2019 Prince Edward Island Electoral Reform Referendum

the 2019 referendum ended in defeat. On the question "Should Prince Edward Island change its voting system to a mixed member proportional voting system?", 52 percent voted against change while only 48 percent voted in favour. But neither side took a majority of votes in 60 percent of the districts so government did not consider it a clear decision.[53] In 2021/2022, PEI again investigated switching away from the FPTP system.[54]

2022 Quebec proposed electoral reform

CAQ François Legault was elected on a promise to reform the electoral system within a year of his victory in 2018. On September 25, 2019, Minister of Justice Sonia LeBel presented Bill 39, An Act to establish a new electoral system which aims to replace the First-past-the-post electoral system in favour of a mixed-member proportional representation system. According to the bill, the National Assembly would have kept 125 members. Of the 125 members, 80 would have been elected by receiving a plurality of votes in single-member districts matching the 78 federal ridings with the addition of 2 unique districts: Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Ungava). The remaining 45 members would have been chosen according to their order in a regional party list. All 17 regions of Québec would have been guaranteed at least one MNA.[55]

Bill 39 was intended to be debated in the legislature before June 2021. The bill's implementation would have been contingent on popular support expressed in a referendum held on the same day as the general election.[56] Was this referendum successful, then the first legislature to be elected under mixed-member proportional would have been the 44th, in October 2026 at the latest. On April 28, 2021, Justice Minister LeBel informed a legislative committee hearing that the government would not move forward with a referendum on electoral reform in 2022. LeBel blamed the COVID-19 pandemic for altering the government's timeline and could not commit to providing an alternate date for the referendum, effectively ending discussions about electoral reform in Quebec.[57]

See also

See also Category: Electoral reform in Canada


  1. ^ For example, during the paliarmentary dispute in 2008, the Cabinet tried to convince the public its attempt to prorogue Parliament to avoid a motion of no confidence brought by the opposition parties was legitimate, as the Canadian parliamentary system determined the party holding the most seats had "won" the election.[6]


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External links

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