Voters decide today
Around 22 million Canadians go to the polls today to vote for 308 members of parliament. Polling takes place across six time zones with Newfoundland starting at 8.30 a.m. and closing at 8.30 p.m. local time, whilst at the opposite end of the country, on the Pacific coast, polling hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In three days of advanced voting last weekend, more than 2 million Canadians took the opportunity to vote.
Canadians can also register at the polling station if they have not registered before.
The election was called because the minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper lost a budget vote and motion of no confidence. Although the election was marked by little controversy, the last few days have seen a surprise rise in the polls for previously third place New Democratic Party (NDP).
One poll predicted that the NDP were neck and neck with the Conservatives, but an eve of poll result suggests that they are on around 30% with the Conservatives on 36%. At that rate the Conservatives will form another minority government but with the NDP the second largest party, knocking the Liberals into third place.
The excitement continued into the final hours of the campaign as national newspapers reported that NDP leader, Jack Layton, had been found in a brothel by police in his earlier days as a councillor. Layton’s wife said that she knew all about this and it had been a mistake. The revelation may have come too late in the campaign to make any difference although, as we reported in an earlier post, the NDP vote is very soft and could easily change.
More than 30 newspapers have endorsed the Conservatives. The Toronto Star which usually endorses the Liberals has, this time, endorsed the NDP along with several others. The Liberals have had no major endorsements.
The first results will not be announced before 10 p.m. local time and Canadians have been warned not to release results, especially on Twitter, before the official announcements.