Early federal election called for end of September

Elections Canada removes on-campus polling stations

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Courtesy of Elections Canada

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called an early federal election for September 20, 2021. This creates one of the shortest election campaigns of 36 days

The last federal election was two years prior. The voter turnout was 66%, and turnout amongst young people was “just over half.” Young people in the 18 to 24 age group noted concerns that youth voting will continue to decrease as challenges created by the pandemic continue to affect accessibility. 

Elections Canada is not running the Vote on Campus campaign for this election, which included polling stations on campus. They cite the early election as the reason because these stations require planning that cannot be accomplished during this time. 

SFSS president Gabe Liosis called on Elections Canada to bring back on-campus polling stations in a tweet:Youth are the largest voting block in this election — yet Elections Canada decided against having on-campus polling stations. Youth already experience barriers in voting. Democracy must be as accessible as possible.”  

Research by Elections Canada shows young people are less likely to vote due to disinterest in politics, the belief that their vote will not make a difference, or their view of “voting as a choice rather than a duty.” Additionally, young people are not voting because they are less likely to be aware of ways to vote. The voting process — accessing the polls and providing identification — is perceived as too difficult and they are less likely to receive voting information.

Different political parties have been using social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, to connect with young voters and encourage voter engagement. 

Non-partisan campaigns — such as the Get Out the Vote campaign created by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations — continue to encourage students to vote by outlining close polling stations, voting by mail options, and the ID students need to vote. 

On August 15 at a press conference, Trudeau asked, “In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to decide where our country goes from here?” He claimed Parliament requires a majority government to implement a strong recovery plan from COVID-19. 

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh posted a tweet criticizing Trudeau for his decision: “The pandemic isn’t over, calling an election is selfish.” Singh also released a letter calling on Trudeau to “back off the pre-campaign trail.” He added, “Telling Canadians that minority governments can’t work is misleading and breeds cynicism in our democracy.” 

What Trudeau called a “dysfunctional” Parliament, Singh noted as a “Parliament working the way Canadians expect it to — MPs from different parties working together in a time of crisis.”

A survey done over August 17, 2021 to August 22, 2021 projected the Liberal Party of Canada is leading with 33% of the vote, followed by the Conservative Party of Canada’s 29%, the New Democratic Party’s 23%, and the Green Party’s 3%.