2015 Canadian Federal Election: Five Things You Need To Know

Almost all Canadian citizens 18-years-of-age and over are eligible to vote in the 2015 Canadian Federal Election to be held throughout the day on Monday, October 19. Most voters have received registration cards. Those who are eligible, but who have not registered, can still vote by registering just before voting at a polling station, according to the Elections Canada website.

Here are five things you need to know.

1. Three Parties Are Seen As Having A Real Shot At Winning The Canadian Election

Five parties are talked about in Canadian politics. The left-of-center New Democratic Party, the more centrist Liberal Party, and the right-of-center Conservative Party have all been seen as having a legitimate shot at winning the most seats in Canadian Parliament. Even just three days before the election, polls are very close, as reported by CBC. Also with real presences, the Canadian Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, and the separatist Bloc Quebecois, led by Gilles Duceppe, are both markedly different, yet influential with their respective followings and messages.

Stephen Harper has served as Prime Minister for two terms and leads the Canadian Conservatives. Justin Trudeau leads the Canadian Liberal Party. Thomas Mulcair leads the New Democratic Party.

Unlike in the United States, where citizens vote for their choice of president, Canadians don’t vote for the Prime Minister directly. They vote for local representatives to serve as members of parliament. Most Canadian MPs belong to one of the five parties above. The party that wins the most seats in parliament names the Prime Minister.

2. Polls Have See-Sawed And The Canadian Election Race Is Incredibly Close

Through the summer months, the NDP-led Canadian opinion polls. After a series of debates, the Canadian Liberals, which had been running third in polls, surged in popularity through September. Canadian Conservatives have remained second in polls through most of the period. Currently, Canadian Liberals hold 35.7 percent of voter support, the Conservatives hold 31.1 percent, and the NDP hold 23.6 percent. Canadian Greens are reported to get the nod from 4.1 percent of voters nationally. Four-and-seven-tenths of one percent of Canadians are reported to support the Bloc Quebecois.

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party leads Canadian polls. Justin Trudeau, leader of the Canadian Liberal Party, current poll front-runners. [Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images]Some groups, such as Lead Now, have attempted to organize voters to vote for the party, other than the Conservatives, most likely to win in individuals parties, usually either Liberal or NDP. Some have seen upstart parties, like the Canadian Green Party, as potentially “splitting the vote.” The Green Party dismisses this “vote splitting” notion, reports the National Post.

3. What Are The Major Issues?

Some major issues that have been the subject of debate in Canada leading up to the election include the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, as reported by the Inquisitr. Bill C-51, which strips Canadian citizens of rights protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, is another hot button issue, according to the Huffington Post. The Keystone Pipeline has been favored by Stephen Harper and had scorn cast upon it by Elizabeth May and the Canadian Green Party.

“These projects would make Canada’s economy even more dependent on the export of unprocessed fossil fuels, leaving us in a vulnerable position when the carbon bubble bursts,” Elizabeth May stated.

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Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has seemed to skirt Bill C-51; his Liberal Party did vote to pass the bill, yet he is reported to have not responded to requests for elaboration on the constitutionality of the act, reports the National Post.

Debate about the niqab has engulfed Canada at different times leading up to this election, as reported by the Inquisitr.

4. Where To Vote

Elections Canada has a website where Canadians may look up their local polling station. This information is also included on voter registration cards. Voters need to bring identification with them to vote; a driver’s license or provincial or territorial I.D. card or other government issued photo I.D. Otherwise, Canadian citizens need to present two types of identification. Elections Canada provides a full list of acceptable types.

Incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper currently trails Justin Trudeau in Canadian polls. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in July 2015. [Photo by Dennis Grombkowski / Getty Images]5. Voter Turnout May Top 60 Percent

Through much of Canada’s history, voter turnout ran between 60 and 80 percent. Beginning in the 1990s and into the 2000s, Canadian voter turnout has steadily eroded. Participation in the last federal election was reported to be 61.1 percent, by Elections Canada. By comparison, 59 percent of Americans were reported to have voted in the 2012 U.S. elections, according to Fair Vote. This figure is representative of U.S. voter turnout since the late 1940s.

“If a young person doesn’t vote, you are still voting,” Justin Trudeau was quoted by the Huffington Post. “You’ve actually given a double vote to someone who is voting and may disagree with you.”

“Stephen Harper doesn’t want you to vote,” the Liberal leader and son of Canadian icon Pierre Trudeau was quoted.

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[Feature Photo by Jason Ransom / PMO via Getty Images]