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What to expect when you’re electing: A voter’s election guide

Meagan Campbell | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2015

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1. How to register

If you were mailed a burgundy slip from Elections Canada with your name on it, you’re automatically registered to vote. If you think it disappeared in the recycling bin, you will still be registered, but you should call or go to your local Elections Canada office to confirm. If you didn’t receive a slip, you can register by calling or going to the office with proof of your name and current address. Make sure to bring the correct proof.

2. Where to vote

Your local polling station is listed on your voter registration card, that white and burgundy slip from Elections Canada that came in your mail. If you didn’t get one, skip to tip number 5.

3. When to vote

To avoid the lines on Oct. 19, you can vote in the advanced polls between Oct. 9 and 12.  The operating hours of the advanced polls are stated on your voter registration card, or can be found at the Voter Information Service.

The operating hours on Oct. 19 vary by region:

  • Newfoundland, Atlantic, Central Time (other than Saskatchewan): 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Eastern Time: 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Saskatchewan Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Mountain Time: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Pacific Time: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

4. Everyone’s special

Any day before Oct. 19, anybody can vote through a special ballot. You can do this at your local Elections Canada office or by calling the office to arrange a mail-in ballot or home pick-up option. This will be necessary for people who are travelling during the election or have physical disabilities preventing them from going to their polling stations.

5. What to bring

You’ll need to prove your address and name. You can bring your driver’s licence or two of the following: health card, passport, debit card, credit card or a bank statement, one of which must state your current address. There are dozens of other acceptable pieces of I.D. For a full list, visit the Elections Canada website.

Also, bring a friend to the polling station; voter turnout was a meagre 61 per cent in the last election.

6. Whom to vote for

Read about your local candidates on their websites or call their campaign offices to find out about chances to meet them. For a description of the parties’ overall platforms, read the Maclean’s election issues primers or transcripts of this year’s federal leaders’ debates, including  the Maclean’s debatethe Globe debatethe Munk debate, and the first French language debate.

7. Results!

Elections Canada will begin posting preliminary results on its website at 7 p.m. Eastern Time and will continue posting throughout the evening. Between Oct. 20 and 26, electoral officers will validate the ballots and post final results on the website as they become available.

As for your lawn signs, you can return them to your candidate’s campaign office, or, in most cases, call the office to have them picked up.

8 recipes for turkey leftovers

Today's Parent | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2015

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The exhausted parent’s guide to the election

Kathryn Hayward | posted Tuesday, Oct 6th, 2015

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Your partner has to work late—again. You’ve managed to cobble together a reasonable facsimile of dinner, but the babyis crying in her high chair, your preschooler is feeding his broccoli to the dog and there’s a knock on the door. It’s one of your local candidates. Who has time to talk or read the pamphlets? Fear not: Here’s a crash course on the key issues so you can cram in time for voting day on October 19.

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Child care

Child care has emerged as one of the main talking points in the election, as the parties have taken fairly different stances on this issue that’s near and dear to the 3.8 million families with children in Canada. Quality daycare is expensive—in Toronto, for instance, full-time infant care can run upwards of $1,600 per child a month. The NDP have thrown down the gauntlet with their $15-a-day plan.

CONSERVATIVES: Earlier this year, the Conservatives expanded the Universal Child Care Benefit. It now pays $160 per month for each child under the age of six and $60 per month for kids ages six to 17 (this money is taxable). They increased the Child Care Expenses Deduction under the Income Tax Act by $1,000. They have no plans for a national child care program (they say they don’t want to tell you how to spend your money).

LIBERALS: They would replace the Universal Child Care Benefit with a new Canada Child Tax Benefit that would give more money to families whose combined income is less than $150,000 (for example, a two-parent household with two kids and an income of $90,000 would receive $490 tax-free a month). While they have no explicit plans for a national child care program, they have proposed a 10-year, $20-billion social infrastructure fund that would include funding for daycare. There’s also a proposal to make parental leaves more flexible, allowing longer leaves (up to 18 months) at a lower pay level.

NDP: The New Democrats promise to create or maintain one million daycare spaces over the next eight years. The fees would be capped at $15 a day (so daycare would cost less than $350 a month). The plan would cost $1.9 billion, to be shared 60/40 between Ottawa and the provinces and territories. “Lots of parents would like affordable, accessible quality child care, and the lack of it means that women are often stuck making very tough decisions about their careers,” Thomas Mulcair told Today’s Parent. They would keep the Universal Child Care Benefit to help parents who don’t use daycare.

GREEN PARTY: They propose the creation of a universal child care program. The program would encourage incorporating child care at workplaces by adding a tax break for employers who offer daycare spaces. “Certainly, there is a lot of good empirical data that workplace productivity increases dramatically and quality time goes up when child care is in the same place where you go to work,” Green Party leader Elizabeth May told Today’s Parent. They support transferring more money to the provinces to increase the number of child care spaces available for at least 70 percent of children ages six and younger. They would also cancel the Universal Child Care Benefit.

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ECONOMY

What’s the best way to make the economy grow: government spending or tax cuts? The Liberals are taking a different tack from the Conservatives and NDP. One thing is certain: Money talks. The economy has been one of the most fiercely debated points in the campaign.

CONSERVATIVES: Their platform is largely about balancing the budget, and they’re bullish about the economy—if we stay the course. As Stephen Harper told Today’s Parent, “If we stay on the path that we’re on, there’s really not going to be a better place in the world to be than Canada for economic opportunity for young people.” They would keep current tax credits, like children’s fitness and public transit, and have promised to pass a “tax lock” law that prohibits increases to federal income tax, sales tax and discretionary payroll taxes for the next four years. Their income-splitting policy allows a higher-earning spouse to transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earning spouse, which can net a tax credit worth up to $2,000. They’ve pledged enhancements to registered education savings plans, which would double the federal grant for low- and middle-income families.

LIBERALS: The party wants to ease the burden of the middle class. They plan to place “more money in the pockets of parents who need it every month, with a tax break that we are going to pay for by having the wealthiest pay a little more in taxes,” Justin Trudeau told Today’s Parent. Specifically, they would lower the tax rate on income between $44,700 and $89,401 by 1.5 percent to 20.5 percent and raise it for individuals earning more than $200,000. They’re also willing to go into a deficit to help boost the economy by investing in infrastructure programs. They plan to eliminate income splitting—they say it favours two-parent households and disproportionately helps people who don’t need help nearly as much as others do.

NDP: Mulcair has said that the first NDP budget will be a balanced budget. They have promised to lower taxes for small businesses and raise corporate tax rates. As for income splitting, they would scrap it, choosing to invest that money in middle-class families instead.

GREEN PARTY: To address poverty and a widening income gap, the party would implement a Guaranteed Livable Income. They would replace several social security programs to establish a minimum income. In terms of the budget, May says, “It’s preferable, of course, to live within your means, but we are not ideologically wedded to always balancing the budget.” The party would also eliminate income splitting, reduce taxes for small businesses and raise the corporate tax rate. They also pledge to create a national pharmacare program and cover dental costs for low-income youth.

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Crime

Overall police-reported crime has been falling for more than 20 years. In fact, in 2013, Statistics Canada reported that the country had experienced the lowest crime rate since 1969. It doesn’t mean, however, that we feel safer.

CONSERVATIVES: Over the years, the party has maintained a tough-on-crime approach. Firmly against the decriminalization of marijuana, they’ve pledged $4.5 million to crack down on grow ops and promised to launch a hotline for parents concerned about their kids using drugs. Their signature legislation, the controversial Bill C-51, which passed in June, increases the powers of the police and CSIS to conduct expanded surveillance, share information between different agencies and arrest without a warrant for suspected terrorist activities.

LIBERALS: The party supports mandatory minimum sentences for serious and violent offences. They are in favour of legalizing and regulating marijuana (arguing regulation makes it harder for kids to access it and takes profits away from organized crime). The party supported Bill C-51 but plans to implement greater oversight of security agencies.

NDP: The party has pledged to hire 2,500 more police officers across the country. They’ve called for an increase in restorative justice. As well, they’d strengthen rules for sentencing dangerous offenders. On the pot issue, they call for decriminalization but not full legalization.

GREEN PARTY: In their platform, the Greens argue it’s time to legalize the adult use of marijuana. In addition, they call for increased funding to safe-injection sites, treatment facilities and addict rehabilitation. They would like greater oversight of agencies involved in counterterrorism measures.

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Environment

Canada has an abysmal record on the environment. In a recent report that compared 61 countries on their climate policies, renewable energy and efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions, we ranked very, very low—just ahead of Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia.

CONSERVATIVES: This spring, the party pledged to ambitiously cut emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 (it’s a bold promise given that we haven’t been able to meet previous targets). They are strongly in favour of building gas pipelines to get oil from the tar sands to refineries and port. As well, they’d like to promote angling and hunting tourism and would work to improve the habitats of key species harvested by hunters and trappers.

LIBERALS: Trudeau has said he’ll work with the provinces to develop a national framework for putting a price on carbon. The party promises to invest $200 million to support innovation and clean technology in forestry, fisheries, mining, energy and agriculture. They will increase protected marine and coastal areas by 10 percent over the next five years, and they promise to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. The party opposes the Northern Gateway pipeline but supports the Keystone XL pipeline.

NDP: The party plans to eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry and create a cap-and-trade system, which would put a market price on carbon (they wouldn’t, however, impose a system on provinces that already have a carbon strategy). They’d reinvest any money generated into green energy. While they support the Energy East pipeline from the oil sands to eastern Canada, the party opposes the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines. Mulcair has also vowed to strengthen laws to protect our lakes and rivers.

GREEN PARTY: The party wants to halt the use of fossil fuels by mid-century, including a rapid phase-out of coal-fired plants. They oppose all pipeline plans and would make all carbon fuels subject to a carbon fee. “If we approach addressing the climate problem aggressively, that’s a way to stimulate the economy and avoid a recession,” May toldToday’s Parent.

Read more:
Today’s Parent interviews Prime Minister Stephen Harper>
Today’s Parent interviews Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau>
Today’s Parent interviews NDP leader Thomas Mulcair>

Today’s Parent interviews Green Party leader Elizabeth May>