The lazy voter's guide to Canada's 2021 federal election

Aug 23 2021, 1:55 pm

Look, we get it: learning about federal party platforms wasn’t in of your end-of-summer plans.

When it comes to the subject of politics, some people’s eyes glaze over. It can be a dry topic, and many of us have limited attention spans for it.

Still, as boring as politics can sometimes be, the government makes decisions that can affect our daily life, so it never hurts to be at least somewhat informed on exactly who is promising what, and know exactly how – and where – you can make your voice heard.

So with that said, let’s take a look at how this process works, who’s involved, and exactly what to remember when it comes to casting your vote.

The party leaders

First, get to know the three major party leaders:

Liberal Party: Justin Trudeau (our current Prime Minister)


Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau holds an election campaign event in Longueuil, Quebec, on Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trudeau is trying to win his third election, after first coming to power in 2015. He started off with a majority government that year but downgraded to a minority government in 2019 — meaning his party relies on support from opposition parties to pass legislation.

Banking on strong approval of his pandemic response, Trudeau called an early election this year to try and win more seats in the House of Commons than his party currently has.

Conservative Party: Erin O’Toole


Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole speaks to the media Wednesday, August 18, 2021, in Quebec City. Canadians will vote in a federal election Sept. 20th. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

O’Toole is the leader of the official opposition, meaning his party has the second-highest number of seats in the house, making it the biggest challenger to the Liberal government.

He’s a lawyer by training and served 12 years in the military. Now he represents the riding of Durham in Ontario.

New Democratic Party: Jagmeet Singh

Jagmeet SIngh

Jagmeet Singh/ Facebook

Singh has been the leader of the left-leaning federal NDP party since 2017. He’s the first Indo-Canadian to lead a federal party and is so far the only federal leader to use TikTok heavily to reach his audience.

There are also two more party leaders to be familiar with:

Bloc Quebecois: Yves-François Blanchet

Yves-Francois Blanchet

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet passes candidate for Gatineau Genevieve Nadeau as he leaves his bus to speak at a campaign event outside the Gatineau Hospital in Gatineau, Quebec, on Thursday, August 19, 2021. (Justin Tang/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Bloc Quebecois only run candidates in Quebec. So Canadians outside of Quebec can’t vote for them. Good news for the lazy voter — you don’t need to worry too much about them if you’re not in Quebec.

Green: Annamie Paul

Annamie Paul

Green Party Leader Annamie Paul launches her election campaign at a press conference in the riding of Toronto Centre, on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. (Christopher Katsarov/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Paul took over leadership of the federal Greens from Elizabeth May, who led the party for 13 years. This party usually gets about 5% of the popular vote, but their votes are spread out across the country — meaning they get less than 5% of the seats in the House of Commons.

What is each party promising?

The parties generally put out platforms during election time. We’ve summarized the key points, but feel free to read yourself for a more in-depth view.


  • 10 days of paid sick leave in regulated sectors
  • Introduce a national $10-a-day childcare system
  • Raise wages for personal support workers (PSWs) to at least $25 per hour
  • Hire up to 50,000 more PSWs to support seniors in long-term care
  • Double Home Accessibility Tax Credit to help seniors stay home longer (up to $1,500 more per senior)
  • Train 1,000 new wildfire firefighters
  • Maintain COVID-19 relief programs, and add more money for arts, film, and television sectors


  • Recover 1 million jobs lost during the pandemic, with special attention paid to hard-hit sectors
  • Introduce a new anti-corruption law to increase accountability in government
  • Give more money to the provinces for mental health services
  • Create a nation-wide three-digit suicide prevention line
  • Wind down COVID-19 emergency spending over the next decade to balance the budget
  • Support domestic vaccine production and PPE stockpiles


  • Make essentials such as housing, post-secondary education, and cellphone plans more affordable for Canadians
  • Affordable childcare
  • Higher taxes for businesses who experienced windfalls during the pandemic
  • 10 days of paid sick leave
  • Support efforts leading to net-zero carbon emissions
  • Establish universal dental care
  • No-cost mental healthcare for Canadians without work or school benefits


  • Net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • End all production of fossil fuels, and support a just transition for workers
  • Develop a national renewable energy electricity grid
  • Protect Canada’s biodiversity and natural environments
  • Prioritize reconciliation with Indigenous peoples
  • Extend COVID-19 wage and rent subsidies
  • Affordable and accessible internet services
  • Declare housing affordability a national emergency, and establish a national moratorium on evictions
  • Establish a guaranteed livable income program
  • Abolish university tuition and cancel federal student debt
  • Universal pharmacare and dental care
  • Universal childcare
  • Decriminalize drugs and create a national safe supply

How do I vote — and where? Am I eligible?

Okay, we’ve got the leaders and their platforms. Time to get informed and head to the polls. But hold on, who exactly is allowed to “head to the polls” in the first place?

The answer: All Canadian citizens who are at least 18 years old on election day (September 20).

To vote, you must:

  • Be registered. Most electors are already registered. Still, it never hurts to double-check. To make sure you’re on the list – or to register or update your address information, electors can visit, visit any Elections Canada office across Canada, or call 1-800-463-6868. You can register at any time between now and September 14, at 6 pm.

But because this is the lazy’s persons guide, we’ll also let you know that if you miss the deadline, you can still they can register at the polls on election day. It’s just that easy.

  • Show proof of your identity and address. There are many different pieces of identification that can be used to prove identity and address. And if you don’t possess any of these? You can still vote if you declare your identity and address in writing and have someone who knows you and who is assigned to your polling station vouch for you. The voucher must be able to prove their identity and address. A person can vouch for only one person (except in long-term care institutions).

On election day, polling stations are set up in the riding of every candidate (and we’ll get to ridings in a second), where people can go and easily cast their ballot in person.

Unable to make it to the polls in person? You can vote by mail, at an Elections Canada office, or even at numerous post-secondary institutions across the country.

Living abroad this fall? You can also vote by mail. Canadian citizens who live abroad may apply to be on the International Register of Electors, which will allow them to vote by mail-in special ballot in federal general elections, by-elections and referendums.

Simply put, there’s no excuse not to vote.

So am I voting for the party leader directly, or….?

Unless you live in the home riding of the party leader, the short answer is no.

The long answer is that Canada consists of 338 ridings across the country, which equals 338 seats in the House of Commons in Ottawa – Canada’s capital.

In Canada, the electoral system is known as first-past-the-post (FPTP; sometimes FPP), where voters mark their ballot in support of their regional candidate. Whoever gets the most votes within that electoral district wins one seat in Ottawa.

The party that wins the most seats gets to form the government.

A majority government happens when one party’s politicians occupy more than half the seats in the House of Commons — meaning they can vote through legislation without support from opposition parties.

What is a “riding” anyway, and how do they work?

An electoral district in Canada is also known as a “riding.”

It is a geographical constituency upon which Canada’s representative democracy is based.

Each federal electoral district returns one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of Canada – that person being whoever received the most votes in that riding.

Wait, when’s voting day again?

Monday, September 20.

Stay tuned to Daily Hive for all the latest from this season’s campaign, including up-to-the-minute results on election night.

After all, exercising your democratic right to vote still counts as exercise, right?

Daily Hive StaffDaily Hive Staff

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