Voting in Canada

Every Canadian citizen has the right to vote in provincial and federal elections. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of Canada’s constitution, lists voting as one of our democratic rights. Voting ensures that the voices of all citizens are heard, and that all Canadians are represented by their government. Here are 3 types of Canadian elections, and how to vote in each:

Voting in Canada

Villages, towns, and cities will host a municipal election every 2, 3, or 4 years, depending on the area. These elections usually elect a mayor, the town/city council, and a school board. The city council is made up of councillors representing different areas of the community. A school board is a group of officials who determine the educational policies of the schools in that area.

In order to vote in municipal elections, voters are required to provide proof of their name and home address. The following items meet the standard requirement for one piece of identification:

  • Identification issued by a Canadian government, whether federal, provincial or local, or an agency of that government, that contains a photograph of the elector and his or her name and current address (such as a Canadian passport or driver’s license);
  • Bank/credit card statement or personal cheque;
  • Correspondence issued by a school, college or university;
  • Government cheque or cheque stub;
  • Income/property tax assessment notice;
  • Insurance policy or coverage card;
  • Utility bill: e.g. Telephone, public utilities commission, television, hydro, gas or water

For more information about municipal elections, click here.

Calgary’s Old City Hall and New City Hall.

If you are a new Canadian citizen, or if you have not voted in Alberta before, you may need to register to vote. Registering is quick and easy. To register, click here.

In a provincial election, you will vote for a candidate in your area, or riding, belonging to a political party. The candidate with the most votes becomes your MLA, or Member of the Legislative Assembly. Your MLA will then join the provincial government at the Legislature building in Alberta’s capital, Edmonton.

The political party that has the most MLAs elected to the Legislature will form the government. The leader of the party then becomes the Premier.

Some common political parties in Alberta are:

  • The United Conservative Party: This party has changed its name many times throughout the years. Other notable conservative parties were the Progressive Conservatives (PCs) and the Wildrose. This party often supports right-leaning, or conservative, social and economic policies;
  • The Alberta NDP (New Democratic Party): This party traditionally supports left-leaning, or very liberal, social and economic policies;
  • The Alberta Party: This party supports “centrist” ideas (they are between the United Conservatives on the right and the NDP on the left);
  • The Alberta Liberal Party: This party also supports centrist ideas, often balanced between the United Conservatives and the NDP;
  • The Green Party: This party often supports policies that are sensitive to the environment, and often very liberal social and economic policies.

After the election, the Premier will choose the members of their cabinet, a team of MLAs who become ministers of specific government departments. These departments include Justice, Labour, the Environment, Health, and more.

Alberta’s Legislature in Edmonton.

If you are a new Canadian citizen, or if you have not voted in Canada before, you may need to register to vote. Registering is quick and easy. To register, click here.

In a federal election, you will vote for a candidate in your area, or riding, belonging to a political party. The candidate with the most votes becomes your MP, or Member of Parliament. Your MP will join the federal government as a part of the House of Commons in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The political party that has the most MPs elected will from the government. That party’s leader then becomes the Prime Minister.

Some common political parties in Canada are:

  • The Conservative Party of Canada: This party traditionally supports right-leaning, conservative, or traditional economic and social policies;
  • The Liberal Party of Canada: This party traditionally supports centrist social and economic policies, although they are often much more left-leaning than the Conservative Party;
  • The New Democratic Party: This party supports left-leaning, or progressive, policies;
  • The Green Party of Canada: This party often supports policies that are sensitive to the environment, and often very liberal social and economic policies.

After the election, the Prime Minister will choose the members of their cabinet, a team of MPs who become ministers of specific government departments. These departments include Finance, National Defence, Transport, and more.

Canada’s federal government does not just consist of the House of Commons however – there are two other important parts. As Canada is a part of the British Commonwealth, the Queen is still considered the most senior leader of our government. The other part is the Senate – a group of 105 senators appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Commons and the Senate both need to be in agreement before any bills or laws can be passed in Canada.

Canada’s Parliament buildings in Ottawa.