CBC News Federal Election

#

Voter Toolkit

Election timing

What determines the date of an election? The short answer: "politics."

Canadian governments are elected for a maximum five-year term, but there is no legislated minimum. Rarely does a government serve out its full term, and it's up to the prime minister to decide when to go back to the people to seek re-election. This is usually in the fourth or early in the fifth year of a mandate, and a key factor in the timing is how confident the prime minister and his advisers are that conditions are favourable for re-election. When they feel the time is right, the prime minister advises the Governor General that Parliament should be dissolved and a general election held.

A different situation prevails in the United States, where politicians are elected for a fixed term of four years. The electoral calendar is so structured that there are national elections every two years. The president is elected for a four-year term, and half-way through his term, members of Congress face the voters to seek their four-year terms. There have been calls – primarily by the Conservative Party of Canada – for Canada to adopt a fixed-term system.

Three provincial governments have already decided to go that route: B.C., Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. People in B.C. go to the polls every four years on the second Tuesday in May. The next date is May 2009. The government has passed a law that would send Ontario voters to the polls every four years, on the first Thursday in October. The law has yet to receive royal assent. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the next election will be in October 2007.

Only once in Canada has a government held office for more than the statutory five-year maximum. This was during the First World War, when the Conservatives under Robert Borden stayed in power for about a year beyond the expiration of their term in order to avoid the disruption an election would cause. However, Parliament did not sit during the extended period, so no laws could be passed. Government expenses were covered by warrants issued by the Governor General.


# # [an error occurred while processing this directive]
ELECTION RESULTSDetails>
1241035129
Total Elected and Leading
CON124036.27%
LIB103030.23%
BQ51010.48%
NDP29017.48%
IND10.52%
OTH005.02%

Riding Profiles

Select a province or territory.

Latest Features

CAMPAIGN CONFIDENTIAL
Identity revealed

REALITY CHECK
» The first throne speech
» A different way to elect our MPs?
» What happened to Paul Martin?

CONSERVATIVE PLANS
What happens now?
»Building consensus
»Tory cabinet possibilities
»Tories then and now

THE BLOGS
» Final thoughts from our election roundtable
» The blog report

POLL SAYS...
Environics survey casts light on result

ELECTION CARTOONS
Photo gallery

WHITHER THE LIBERALS
What's next for Canada's 'natural governing party'

RESULTS ANALYSIS
CBC.ca's Reality Check Team on election day developments

STUDENT VOTES
The results

YOUR SPACE
Your letters on the election

IN PICTURES
A new era

STEPHEN HARPER
Profile

ON THE OTHER HAND
Anthony Westell suggests it may be harder to unite the left than it was to unite the right

MODERN LIVING
Georgie Binks on how Stephen Harper may jump-start the women's movement

POLITICS
Larry Zolf muses on the next Liberal leader

INSIDE MEDIA
Tony Burman on how voters helped shape the CBC�s election coverage

#
             
   
Jobs | Contact Us | Permissions | Help | RSS | Advertise
Terms of Use | Privacy | Ombudsman | CBC: Get the Facts | Other Policies
Copyright © CBC 2016