Canadians heading to the polls to choose next government


OTTAWA – Canada’s first-ever pandemic election culminates today as Canadians from coast-to-coast go to the polls to choose the 338 members of Parliament to sit in the House of Commons.

Elections Canada says almost 6.8 million people voted early, most of them at advanced polls over a week ago, and the rest through special ballots cast by mail or at Elections Canada offices.

But a majority of Canada’s more than 30 million eligible voters will mark their ballots today.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his wife Rebecca arrived in the morning at a voting station inside the Garnet B. Rickard Recreation Complex in Bowmanville, Ont., in his riding of Durham to cast their votes.

Rebecca O’Toole told a poll worker the couple wore the same blue outfits they sported at the launch of the campaign.

“I wonder who he’s voting for,” she joked as her husband marked his ballot, before the two dropped their votes into the ballot box.

The Conservative leader did not make any public statements.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was expected to cast his ballot later Monday, while NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh voted in advance of election day.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet voted in an advanced poll as well, but he spoke in Drummondville, Que. to encourage his supporters to visit their polling stations.

“This is democracy. People send to the Parliament the people they believe will represent them the best,” Blanchet said Monday.

“Whatever Canada wants as the ballot question, it’s their business. But I believe Quebec has a right to be different.”

Elections Canada encouraged voters to wear masks but only required them in places where they are mandated by provincial rules. Proof-of-vaccination regulations do not apply at polling stations in any province where they currently exist.

Polling stations are open for 12 hours, but the opening times vary by region, starting as early as 7 a.m. PST in British Columbia and as late as 9:30 a.m. EDT in Ontario and most of Quebec.

Most riding winners will be known by the end of the evening, but Elections Canada is also warning it could take up to four days to finish counting all the special ballots, meaning some close races may not have official winners for several days.