CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Learning About Federal Elections in Canada

History, Social Studies, Political Science
1 to 2 lessons
To learn about federal elections in Canada, to examine the impact of federal elections on Canada’s politics and history.
In this introductory activity, students gather information about the history of federal elections in recent Canadian history, focusing on some key campaigns and learning how the issues, leaders, parties, and results of each election impacted Canadian politics.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring


Lead an introductory discussion of some of the basic facts and information about elections in Canada, such as the legal voting age, number of federal ridings, names of political parties and their leaders, etc.

Next, ask students to identify the three levels of elected government (federal, provincial, and municipal) and the names and party affiliations of their federal and provincial representative. Then brainstorm a list of kinds of decisions made by federal politicians and those made by provincial politicians.

Finally, distribute some current newspapers. Divide students into groups and have each group identify a current issue from each level of government. Cut out and display the clippings or create a class list of the issues.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Campaigning for Canada on the CBC Digital Archives website. Have students browse the site for as much time as they wish. Students form groups to make brief notes on one of the federal elections highlighted on the site (1945, 1949, 1958, 1963, 1968, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1993, and 1997). For each election, students should briefly note the following information:


Which political party and leader won the election?

What were the main issues in the campaign?

How did the other political parties in the election fare?

What other parties and leaders were important in the election?

What was the importance of the election result for Canada?

Each group prepares a visual presentation to share the information it has gathered. Invite all students to walk around the room to learn about each election researched.

Revisit and Reflect

Revisit the questions that students used as a guide and have each group share their responses. Ask: How do the elections compare? Which election do you think was the most important in Canada's recent political history, and why?


Students can prepare and present a brief report on one of the federal elections held in Canada since 1945, focusing on the main leaders, political parties, issues, and results of the election, and stating the ways in which it shaped the future course of politics in Canada.

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