Politics

How can I vote on campus? Your election questions answered

We're tackling even more election questions we've received from you, including those about party donations, stances on nuclear energy and bringing kids to the polls.

From party donations to stances on nuclear energy, here's what you were asking us about this week

We're breaking down what you need to know to vote, party platforms and taking your election questions throughout the campaign ⁠— all via text message. And then we're answering those questions here. (Sködt McNalty/CBC)

Your election questions just keep on coming. It's now been a full week since we've launched our election texting service and we've received hundreds of questions from all corners of the country.

You're questions have surprised us, stumped us and got us thinking. Here are answers to some of the more intriguing questions we've had over the past few days. You can ask us even more by texting ELECTION to 22222.

Can I vote on campus?

Yes. After running a pilot during the 2015 election, Elections Canada has rolled out a much larger post-secondary voting operation to 115 universities, colleges, CEGEPs and educational institutes across the country. 

Voting on campus runs from Oct. 5 to Oct. 9 but hours vary depending on the location.

Voting is by special ballot, and you cast your ballot for wherever you consider your home riding to be. So, if your home is in Alberta's Red Deer-Lacombe riding but you are going to school at Holland College in Charlottetown, you would write in the first and last name of your preferred candidate for your riding back home in Alberta.

Though the campus voting is aimed at post-secondary students, anyone is allowed to vote at these locations. Just don't forget to bring your proper ID.

Will leaders be allowed to make personal attacks in the debate?

Monday night marks the first time all six main federal party leaders will debate this campaign. And if the previous debates are any indication, you can bet on personal attacks.

Barbs have been aimed at all the leaders at the Macleans and TVA debates — including those who weren't even in attendance.

There aren't any regulations around how negative a campaign can go. But it's worth noting that libel and slander laws still apply. And parties have been using social media to call out each other's debate lies — as well as information they don't necessarily agree with.

Debates have been a hallmark of Canadian elections since 1968, but what effect do they actually have on voters? Strategists will tell you they’re critical to elections and a lot of planning goes into them. Researchers, on the other hand, say there’s evidence they can change votes, though often they don't. 8:39

Where can I find who the major financial donors are to each party's election campaign?

The maximum amount individual Canadians are allowed to contribute to each party per year is $1,600. So major financial donors are less of a thing in Canadian politics than in, say, the United States.

Corporations, trade unions, associations or groups aren't allowed to donate at all — but that doesn't stop executives and individuals involved in these groups from contributing themselves.

Sometimes members of the same family will all give to the same party — or several parties. So some families are more politically active than others and will donate to the limit.

Elections Canada tracks all of this. Contributions back to 2002 can be searched using their online database.

Can I bring my kids to the polling station?

Yes, you are allowed to bring kids to the polls.

Elections Canada actually encourages you to bring children behind the screen with you while you are voting to show them how to do it.

Although the instructions for poll workers are "very detailed," Elections Canada says there's no specific protocol if a child decides to yell out who their parents voted for.

Some elections further cater to children. In Quebec provincial elections, there are actually special "small polling stations" for kids, where they can cast their own ballot. They aren't voting on the candidates, rather on a "question about democratic values." They do get a sticker and temporary tattoo though — so that's pretty cool.

Two-year-old Juniper Martens looks over the voting booth as her mother Melissa votes during the September election in Manitoba. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

Where do the parties stand when it comes to nuclear power?

The Liberal government has said nuclear innovation plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2018, the government tasked the provinces, territories and various community and utility stakeholders to create a roadmap for small modular nuclear reactors. These reactors generate under 300 megawatts versus traditional reactors that typically generate about 800 megawatts. The Liberals have touted them as "the next wave in innovation," with the potential to provide non-emitting energy with lower upfront costs than traditional reactors.

The Conservatives haven't yet released their full platform, but in a climate policy released in June, the party cited nuclear energy as having "the capacity to provide clean, affordable and safe base-load power in Canada and around the world."

The NDP says it believes in halting the expansion of nuclear power and wants to upgrade the safety and security of current facilities.

Rows of chambers holding intermediate-level radioactive waste sit in shallow pits at the Bruce Power nuclear complex near Kincardine, Ont. Most of the parties have a stance on what nuclear's future might looks like. (John Flesher/The Associated Press)

Greens have said nuclear power is "not an option" to address climate change, citing its costs and risks surrounding safety and health. The party says it would not shut down existing nuclear plants in Ontario and New Brunswick but would not fund any refurbishments or extensions to their service. It would also not continue funding the small modular nuclear reactor program.

The party says it would work with provinces to phase out existing nuclear power, stem nuclear waste and put a moratorium on uranium mining and refining. It promises to end support for the nuclear industry except where needed to maintain the safety of existing facilities.

Neither the Bloc nor the People's Party have released positions on nuclear energy.

How will this election be different?

Of course, there's the new rhetoric, new controversies, new candidates and the majority of leaders are new, too. But you hear about those every day in the news so let's focus on the big procedural changes:

  • The process of vouching has been reinstated. It allows someone to vouch for your right to vote if you don't have valid ID.
  • Restrictions have been dropped on expats. Previously, if you lived out of the country for more than five years, you couldn't vote. Now, all Canadians living abroad can vote, if they have proper ID.
  • You may also notice the campaign has been shorter than the last one. That's because new rules limit a campaign to a maximum of 50 days and a minimum of 36.

Until election day, we'll be rounding up your questions and answering some in articles like the one you just read. If you've got questions, text "ELECTION" to 22222 or send Haydn an email at haydn.watters@cbc.ca. He'll try his very best to get you an answer — or include it in a future article. But be patient, his inbox is a bit flooded at the moment.

About the Author

Haydn Watters is a roving reporter for Ontario, primarily serving the province's local radio shows. He has worked for CBC News and CBC Radio in Halifax, Yellowknife, Ottawa and Toronto, with stints at the politics bureau and the entertainment unit. He also ran an experimental one-person pop-up bureau for the CBC in Barrie, Ont.

With files from Shanifa Nasser

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