This is a Canadian Election Day Post

As you may have heard, there’s a federal election in Canada today.

This is the fourth federal election in the past seven years. A lot of Americans have problems understanding this state of affairs. A lot of Canadians do, too. Briefly, on March 25, the Harper minority government was found in contempt of Parliament — the first time that’s ever happened — and was dissolved the next day. Despite a general sense of voter apathy, over 2 million people turned up to vote at the advance polls over Easter weekend, which is completely unheard of.

According to vote projections as of Sunday evening, a Conservative majority government is possible, but the opposition could go to either the NDP or the Liberals. Here, using data collected by Nanos Research for the Globe and Mail and CTV, and the magic of Excel, is what this looks like:While the Conservatives might end up with either a majority or minority government, there is a pretty good chance that they will still be the government, for the third election in a row. Meanwhile, according to seat projections on April 30, the NDP is expected to win a maximum of twice as many seats as they had in 2008, while the Liberals are expected to lose tragically (compared to their record) but still have a shot at being the official opposition. Let’s break this down:

This dramatization of Harper is from

Harper specifically, and the Conservative party in general, has been endorsed by the Globe and Mail, a formerly liberal-leaning (though, often Conservative-endorsing) newspaper with currently outraged readers; the Economist; Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, who surprised no one; and the frequently conservative National Post, along with at least 12 other newspapers with varying levels of circulation. Which isn’t bad, considering how many people say they hate the Conservatives. However, he’s also been critiqued by a lot of people, including the official opposition, Matthew Hays, the lone dissenting voice of the Globe and Mail, who would like anyone but Harper; all Canadian women; and my hero Rick Mercer, who, after traveling with the Harper campaign, has suggested he might be a hologram because of his campaign strategies, which include maniacal use of a teleprompter to give the same nine-minute speech at each stop and a tendency to repeat, “Jeremy, could you bring me my notes? Jeremy, could you bring me my notes? Jeremy, could you bring me my notes?” until he gets them.

As of the final poll results Sunday evening, the Conservatives have 37.1% support nationally.

The Liberals have been endorsed by very few people. This is one of the first elections in which a national, Toronto-based newspaper hasn’t endorsed the Liberal party, which is sometimes referred to as “Canada’s natural governing party,” which shows you how weird this is. Even those who are voting Liberal are reluctant to actually fully support them, such as Andrew Coyne, the national editor of Maclean’s:

“So the choice for me is between the Conservatives and the Liberals. And as I have wrestled with it, the ballot question that has occurred to me is this: would the Liberals do more harm to the economy than the Conservatives would do to democracy? Or perhaps: would the Liberals harm the economy more than the Conservatives would? Would re-electing the Conservatives do greater harm to our democracy than electing the Liberals? And: which concern should weigh more heavily in the balance?”

Coyne argues that the Liberal platform, though not ideal, is at least consistent, and that they have a much better record of upholding democratic values. Possibly because their leader didn’t change the official name “the government of Canada” to “the Harper government” (he actually did this). He also argues that neither the NDP nor the Green Party are options, since they both want to increase spending and taxes, have interventionist market policies, and less than ideal personnel. However, as of Sunday evening, the Liberals still have 20.5% support. They’re a third, but a distant third.

The NDP have been endorsed by the Toronto Star; the Torontoist; and the Toronto edition of Now, which also shows you where some of the NDP focus has been this campaign. The NDP did very well following the French language debates, mostly due to a surge in popularity in Quebec, and as of Sunday evening, have 31.6% support. For a party whose jet has been nicknamed “Hipster Air” this is pretty incredible (obviously, they have other merits).

The Green Party has been endorsed by the advocacy group Democracy Watch, but not, apparently, by any national newspapers. Green Party leader Elizabeth May was also excluded from the televised debates, which is especially significant after they received 6.8% of the vote in the 2008 election. Also, it’s just petty. As of Sunday evening, the Greens have 3.8% support.

The Bloc Quebecois have been endorsed by Le Devoir. They currently have 5.8% support, which is down from 10.1% at the beginning of the campaign period. The Bloc really only happens in Quebec, and with a lot of that support shifting towards the NDP, this drop isn’t really a surprise.

Unlike almost everything else in this election.

The results will be announced officially starting after polls close at 9:30 pm in British Columbia, due to laws from the days of radio that believed announcing results from the eastern provinces would influence voting in the western ones. And, Emily Choo is going to liveblog it. Stay tuned! Speaking of Emily Choo, here is what she said about why this election is so weird:

“This election is very neatly straddling the line between “stupid” and “super important.” Mostly it’s stupid because we keep having elections and nothing has changed, and super important because, well, maybe it will.”

Finally. If you have made it this far, and live in Canada, and are not going to vote today because you feel like it won’t make a difference, or because you don’t want to physically go to you polling station, or because you think that by abstaining you’re making some sort of political point, or because it’s raining out, or sunny out, or you can’t find proof of address that isn’t your electoral card from the mail, then I have only this to say to you: you are a tool. Polls are open 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. Use them.

Also, if you want to learn more about the election or have a thing for train-wrecks: here is how the Canadian political system works; here is the CBC guide for the 2011 election; here are the platforms of each party; and here is a site with all the bad things Stephen Harper has done. There are a lot of them.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. It snowed yesterday in Winnipeg. Nobody else in Canada has a friggin’ excuse to skip voting because of the weather!!!!!

    That said, I really really hate the way Canadian elections are set up. I’m an Orange girl, but the candidate in my riding is my age and is a complete douchebag = no NDP vote from our area. The Liberal candidate in my area is a good guy, and it’s a pretty strong Lib vs Con vote in this riding. However, Ignatieff gives me a really icky feeling and I would hate having him as PM. Soooo…because of my local government, I can’t vote for the party I want (for my vote to count). HOW IS THIS DEMOCRATIC???

    • i’m in the same situation. although my liberal guy has been there for like 20 years and he seems to be alright, so i don’t mind voting for him. that being said, ANYONE BUT HARPER!! is my #1 feeling.

      • I agree, but with that beautifully-colourful pie chart above, it seems like a weak strategy to vote for Libs in hopes to get rid of Harper which was my battle-plan.

        *lowers massive battle axe with resignation* Sigh.

        • You should vote NDP anyways! Every vote they get gives the party more funding annually, and big corporations arent exactly flocking to them with Donations like they do with the Conservatives and Liberals

    • Yeah, I’m in a similar situation – the WOMYN who’s held my riding for the last decade or so is a Liberal, but I CANNOT STAND Ignatieff. I’m actually still torn between her and my NDP candidate

  2. Great article, thanks for the links.

    Just a note, though, 9:30am-9:30pm isn’t the correct time (at least not in every province). Polls in Newfoundland are open 8:30am-8:30pm… I won’t speak for the other provinces/territories.

  3. I am so excited by ndp strength! It’s such a good sign that Canadian’s actually want an end to first past the post and two party systems!! Well. At least I hope.

  4. Hey – voting hours are actually different everywhere in the country. (It’s done so that the vast majority of results come out within a half-hour of each other. In:

    Newfoundland Daylight Time, Atlantic Daylight Time and Central Daylight Time – 8:30am to 8:30pm

    Eastern Daylight Time – 9:30am to 9:30pm

    Central Standard Time (because Saskatchewan doesn’t do Daylight Savings) and Mountain Daylight Time – 7:30am to 7:30pm

    Pacific Daylight Time – 7:00am to 7:00pm.

  5. I found this post fascinating and now I’m really keen to learn more about Canadian politics… thank you for the links.

    I don’t have anything very intelligent to say, but this Aussie just wanted to stop in and wish Canada all the best :) I hope you get a good outcome.

  6. If you’re ever going to vote, do it this year! It’s been a crazy ass political year internationally. Don’t miss out and be part of history!

    Don’t use the excuse “I don’t have time to vote”. Ask your employer for some time off today to vote! It’s your right to vote.

    • Yes! In fact, under the Elections Act, your employer MUST allow you three consecutive hours off to vote, with no reduced income. They don’t have to pay you for time you don’t work, unless they give you no alternative. (That means they can ask you to come in early, then let you off at 4pm or something, but if they just let you go early to fulfill the 3 hours requirement, then they have to pay you as if you worked a full day.) In BC, this means you have the right to either start at 10am or leave at 4.

  7. I don’t remember Harper outlawing same sex marriages, abortions or gay pride week.

    What’s got your knickers in a twist over Harper?

    • Start here:

      Harper has cut funding for a large number of women’s organizations, he also said that ‘ordinary folks don’t care about the arts’ and has cut funding for the arts dramatically.
      Environment Canada scientists have been forced to run all media reports through the gov’t where they are given ‘approved lines’ that they must use to disseminate information.
      He was personally responsible for covering up war crimes that he was personally responsible for authorizing…like you know torture and fun stuff like that…in fact he shut down parliament for two months to avoid the scandal.
      Seriously, don’t EVEN GET ME STARTED..ahem. There has been a real sneaky, subversive methodology to implementing their agenda, an agenda that also includes chipping away at abortion rights and the rights of us gays.
      So umm..yeah…there are some knickers in a twist up here.

    • He didn’t outlaw gay marriage, but he did make noises about bringing it up again (in order to attempt to outlaw it) after it had already been legalized. Luckily, everybody else told him to shut up about it already.

    • Yeah, but he sure doesn’t like the gays.
      He’s an evangelical christian who’s kept himself good and quiet on the topics of homos and abortion while in a minority government, and I don’t want to see what he’ll do if he gets a majority. If you’d like to like to hear him talk on the matter of gay marriage (circa 2005), here you go.

  8. A. I make joke.

    B.One of the first and continuing things the Harper gov’t has done was to cut pride and arts funding; and they did attempt to raise the issue of gay marriage but dropped it ONLY AFTER everyone called collectively called douchebag on it.

    If he could, he would do all of your suggestions.

    • Mmmmmhmmmmm… Pretty much the only thing guaranteeing our rights under Harper is that they were put in place before his self-absorbed ass found its seat in power.

  9. My riding is a guaranteed NDP seat. Has been that way for almost 15 years. Liberals come second, Conservatives a distant third.

    I’m not a devoted NDP voter, but I like our current MP. She seems to be doing a good job. If I lived in a more contentious riding, I would be willing to vote against Harper, rather than for my preferred party/MP/PM.

    National Percentages are one thing, but it all comes down to where those votes fall within each riding. It would be interesting to see how the results of the election would differ if we used a different voting system.

    I will be following the results/liveblog tonight, for sure.

  10. I hate when people say each vote doesn’t make a difference. Last election in my riding, the Liberals only beat the Conservatives by about 70 votes.

    I think a lot of young people are voting this time around; or that’s what my facebook feed tells me.

  11. ok i finally had a chance to read this article fully. i find it so strange that the bloc is invited to debates but the green party isn’t. at least the green party is a national party.

    ‘first past the post’ gives me rage-y feelings.

    • FPTP was the basis of my thesis paper. We desperate, desperately need to change our voting system; some sort of MMP (Mixed Member Proportional representation) system would, in my mind, be ideal. Until we get there, FTPT screws us over in so many tragic and rage-inducing ways.

      • Having lived in BC, Alberta and now Quebec during a Federal election I have found that really the only people who care about the Bloc (whether it is love or hate) at all are in Quebec. Everyone else is pretty apathetic to their existence. And left-leaning types don’t mind them that much because aside from sovereignty-related issues, they are ideologically pretty much exact same as the NDP.

        I wouldn’t say Bloc support is super strong in Montreal (of all cities in Quebec certainly not), but the Bloc was the only party to get the shit together soon enough to advertise on the metro system in the city, so maybe it just seemed that way.

    • I have an ignorant American question. I was just in Montreal and by reading the newspapers/walking around/being alive I could sense a lot of support for the Bloc Quebecois, which is obvs not very surprising, but how does the rest of Canada feel about the Bloc? Are they joke material? Roll your eyes material? Fly into a rage about how much you hate the French Canadians material? Thanks for being an awesome voting Canadian, Emily.

      • It’s…complicated. A lot of people dislike the Bloc because of the separatist movement, and the fact that the federalist side of the Bloc has been weak for a while now.

        There are more complicating factors, but it kind of boils down to seperatists/federalists and francophone/anglophone tensions.

      • I’ve lived in Quebec all my life and this is the first federal election I’ve been eligible to vote for, so I’m not really sure how the rest of Canada sees the Bloc. Aside from being a separatist party, they are pretty socially liberal with the rest of their issues, so I would imagine that people would feel about them they way they feel about other liberal parties, only less, because it doesn’t really affect them.

        Honestly, though, I’m not really sure. I think Quebecers themselves are starting to think that the Bloc is outdated, that’s why Quebec has been leaning towards the NDP in this election.

        I think if the Bloc ceased to exist, other parties would just have to work harder to address Quebec’s needs if they wanted to win votes there. Historically, whoever “won” Quebec usually won the election, and Quebec typically voted Liberal.

        Maybe someone from outside of Quebec can give their feelings on the Bloc.

      • I grew up in Quebec but have also lived in Ontario and the Northwest Territories. In my experience, people outside Quebec don’t feel much of anything about the Bloc. Some people are frustrated at the number of seats they tend to hold in Parliament, which is often more than the NDP and always more than the Greens, even though they’re not a national party. The reason for this is that while they only run candidates in Quebec, they are HUGELY popular there and win most of the ridings in which they enter.

        The thing about the Bloc is that they have no aspirations toward actual federal leadership. Their goal is only to make sure that the interests of the Quebecois, recognized as a distinct nation within Canada, are properly represented in Parliament, until Quebec becomes an independent country (which may never happen, but that’s another issue altogether). The vast majority of people who vote for them are voting primarily for this ideology, and secondarily on where the Bloc stand on other issues. (Aside: I don’t use the word “ideology” in a disparaging way here–it’s a potent political platform that matters A LOT to a lot of people). So if the Bloc vaporized, as I understand it, there’s no way to really predict exactly how their voter base would redirect their allegiances, and therefore how the balance of power would be affected. It’s probably safe to assume that the Conservatives wouldn’t pick up much, but in previous elections of the past 30 years it’s been the Liberals, not the NDP, who have been the Bloc’s main competition in Quebec. But now the NDP are on fire over there, so who knows? And it seems to me that the Bloc actually have more in common with the Greens than they do with either the Liberals or the NDP (caveat: to be fair, I don’t know much about the Green party platform). In that sense, even for people who resent the presence of the Bloc, I think there’s often a feeling of “better the devil you know.” If that makes sense.

  12. Can’t wait to see what the NDP will do. With all the increased spending, and increased taxes we should all be on welfare/employment insurnace within a few months. Luckily these programs will all receive a boast from the NDP!

  13. On my dad’s side of the family (and, indeed, most of Alberta), there seems to be this perception that the “Harper government” is somehow economically adroit, while anyone else (the NDP in particular) will be ratcheting up public taxes and then holding hipster parties where they burn all the money in bonfires (or something to that effect–“throwing our money away” or “spending for the sake of spending”).

    The fact of the matter is, Canada’s current deficit–under Harper’s Conservative governance, mind–is the worst it’s *ever* been; the tax breaks are being doled out to big businesses rather than the general populace; and the funding being cut from (useful) social programs is simply re-routed to the military (I know, right?) and prisons.

    Also, Stephen Harper hates the gays, democracy, the environment, and art. He likes oil and his own weird Playmobil hair.

  14. I feel like I keep reading about the canadian election system and just not getting it, the united states system has made my brain incapable of conceiving of more than two parties.

    but yay, hope it goes well!

  15. I think the opinion of most non-Quebec Canadians is the fact that the Block is not a federal party. I think that if they would stand candidates in every Province then they would be at least respected in all of Canada.

  16. Ugh, I think my reply re: the Bloc posted in the wrong spot. I blame trying to post comments from my phone. Fail.

    I’d really like to not have to vote in a Federal election every day and a half. This is getting old. That said, there seemed to be far less apathy this time around which is super awesome. Awesome.

    Now let’s hope the Governor General asks Jack Layton to lead a coalition government. Let’s also hope Elizabeth May wins the seat she is going for. Shit has to happen! Arts and social programs need their funding back!

  17. I’ve never have seen your blog before… damn you rock. As a died-in-the-wool political junkie, hats off to you.

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