The day has come.
Canadians from coast to coast are heading to the polls to choose their next federal government in the climax of the 44th general election.
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For just over a month, federal leaders have travelled around the country in an effort to convince voters to choose their party to represent them in Ottawa.
After getting Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon’s blessing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dissolved Parliament on Aug. 15, sending Canadians to the ballot box two years before a mandated election on Oct. 16, 2023.
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Opposition leaders have criticized Trudeau’s decision, accusing him of trying to secure a majority for his party and questioning why an election was being called during COVID-19’s fourth wave.
In response, Trudeau has defended his decision and said an election was necessary for Canadians to choose how they “want to end” the pandemic with the government they choose.
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Throughout the campaign, party leaders have made promises on Canada’s pandemic response, the economy, affordability, child care, climate change, spending, Indigenous reconciliation, taxes and housing.
On the eve of election day, party leaders made last-minute appeals in whirlwind tours of swing ridings in an effort to convince voters to choose them.
About 6.8 million Canadians have already voted, majority of them doing so through advanced polling Sept. 10 to 13, and the rest through special balloting either by mail or in-person at Elections Canada offices. About 30 million eligible voters are able to cast their ballots Monday.
Election day voting hours are staggered so that majority of results come in around the same time across the country, Elections Canada says.
Polls in Newfoundland and Atlantic time zones run from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Eastern time from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Central time from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saskatchewan and Mountain time from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Pacific time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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Elections Canada is encouraging voters to wear masks, but only requires them in provinces where they are mandated. Proof-of-vaccination rules don’t apply at voting stations in any province where they currently exist.
Most riding winners will be decided by the end of Monday, but Elections Canada has also warned it might take up to four days to finish counting the special ballots, meaning some close races won’t have official winners for several days.
Long lineups seen outside some Toronto polling stations on election day
With millions of Canadians heading out to vote, there have been some reports of long lines at polling stations. In Toronto, several lines were spotted at voting locations.
Party leaders are among the millions of eligible Canadians heading out to vote Monday. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole was spotted in Bomanville, Ont. with his wife Rebecca O’Toole casting their ballots.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet both voted earlier in the campaign, choosing to do so during advanced polling.
— with files from The Canadian Press
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