Canadians begin to cast ballots after divisive campaign, and amid tight polls

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A voter heads to cast their vote in Canada’s federal election at the Fairbanks Interpretation Centre in Dartmouth, N.S., Monday, Oct. 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

OTTAWA — The campaigning is over and Canadians in some parts of the country have started heading to the polls to cast their ballots in the country’s 43rd general election, which some have described as the nastiest campaign in recent history.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have spent weeks arguing the decision is between which of the two historical governing parties will be in office.

Yet NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has drawn support from progressive voters and the Bloc Quebecois has surged in Quebec, which could scuttle hopes of a majority government and put either party into the position of power-broker in a hung Parliament.

Elizabeth May is hoping her Green party can capitalize on its recent success in provincial votes and translate that to more seats in the House of Commons.

And Maxime Bernier, who has spent much of the campaign trying to protect his own seat in Quebec, will find out whether his upstart People’s Party of Canada is a movement or a footnote.

While most voters will cast their ballots today, around 4.7 million Canadians voted in advance polls last weekend, which marked a 29 per cent increase over 2015.

Elections Canada says roughly 27.4 million people are eligible to vote at one of the approximately 20,000 polling places across the country.

Voter turnout in the last election stood at 68.5 per cent, which was the highest since 1993.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.