CPWA Ottawa Report

September 8, 2021

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The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent September 27.

44th Federal General Election Edition

44th Federal General Election Key Dates

According to Canada’s federal election laws, the minimum number of days for a campaign is 36 and the maximum is 50. The 2021 election campaign is the minimum 36 days. Note the following important dates: 
  • August 15: Prime Minister Trudeau asked the Governor General of Canada, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon, and she consented, to dissolve Canada’s 43rd Parliament, thereby triggering a general election
  • August 30: cut-off date for political parties to nominate candidates to stand for election
  • September 8: nationally televised French language debate
  • September 9: nationally televised English language debate
  • September 10 – 13: advance voting polls open across the country
  • September 14: deadline for applying to receive a mail-in ballot
  • September 20: Election Day [Note: mail-in ballots must be received by 6 pm ET]
  • September 21: counting of mail-in ballots commences

Seats in the House of Commons at Dissolution

The composition of the House of Commons when Parliament was dissolved on August 15 was as follows:
  • Liberal = 155 seats (Party Leader – Justin Trudeau)
  • Conservative = 119 seats (Party Leader – Erin O’Toole)
  • Bloc Québécois = 32 seats (Party Leader – Yves-Francois Blanchet)
  • New Democratic Party = 24 seats (Party Leader – Jagmeet Singh)
  • Independent = 5 seats
  • Green Party = 2 seats (Party Leader – Annamie Paul)

The Caretaker Convention

When Parliament is dissolved, the federal government enters what is known as the Caretaker Convention. Pursuant to this Convention, the duties of the Prime Minister and of Cabinet Ministers continue throughout the election period. Public servants continue to be at the service of Ministers for the purpose of fulfilling departmental duties. Importantly, however, the Caretaker Convention requires the government to ‘act with restraint’ during the election period. While open to interpretation, it is generally understood that, once Parliament is dissolved, the government of the day would undertake activities that are routine, non-controversial, urgent and in the public interest, or reversible by a new government.


There are currently 338 seats in the House of Commons, representing ridings, or electoral districts, across Canada. The Liberals and Conservatives are running near-complete slates of candidates (the Conservative candidate for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour dropped out in August and Liberal MP Raj Saini is no longer the Liberal candidate in Kitchener Centre, though he will still appear on the ballot). The Bloc Québécois is running a complete slate of candidates in Québec (78). 29 MPs are not running for re-election: 14 Liberals, 8 Conservatives, 3 NDP, 2 Bloc Québécois, and 1 Independent. In addition, MP Michel Boudrias was not renominated by the Bloc Québécois and is running with no affiliation. 18 former MPs who lost in 2019 are running to win back their seats, including eight Liberals, six NDP candidates, two Conservatives, and two People’s Party of Canada candidates. Four former MPs who lost in 2015 are running in this election, including two NDP candidates, one Conservative and one Liberal. Information on all candidates can be found at Elections Canada’s General Election website.

Major Party Platforms

During an election campaign, each political party running candidates will release a document – the election platform – outlining its plans and objectives should it form the government. The election platforms of the major parties contesting the 2021 federal election:

Forming Government

To establish a governing majority, a party must win a minimum of 170 seats. If any one party fails to win 170 seats, as was the case in the 2019 general election, the election is said to have resulted in a ‘hung Parliament’. In such a case, it is generally understood, although not a firm law or convention, that the leader of the party winning the greatest number of seats would ask the Governor General to recall Parliament to determine if that party could obtain the consent of a majority of the Members of Parliament to form a government. Such a government is colloquially known as a minority government. It continues in office either until it loses the confidence of a majority of Members of Parliament, decided in a vote held in the House of Commons, or, as in the present case, the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to dissolve Parliament, resulting in a general election.

Elections Canada Voter Information Service

Elections Canada’s Voter Information Service provides information about your electoral district, including the list of candidates, locations of advance and election day polling places, the address of your local Elections Canada office and a map of your electoral district.

Voting by Mail

All Canadians have been able to vote by mail-in ballot (known as a special ballot) since 1993. Historically, a small number of Canadians have chosen to vote by this method. Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, however, it is anticipated that millions of Canadians may prefer to vote by mail rather than attending in person at a local polling station or at an Elections Canada office. Applications to vote by mail in the 2021 election must be received by Elections Canada before 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday, September 14. Elections Canada does not begin to count mail-in ballots until the day following the election. With millions expected to vote by mail, it’s possible the outcome of the election will not be known on election night.

Conservative Party of Canada 2021 Election Platform Highlights

  • Immediately invest in critical projects that will put Canadians to work, cut commute time, and clean up the environment.
  • Provide more flexibility to municipalities and First Nations.
  • Scrap the failed Canada Infrastructure Bank and commit the money sitting unused on its books to infrastructure projects that can strengthen our economy.
  • Continue already committed projects and return to the successful model used in the last Conservative government of working in partnership with provinces, municipalities, and First Nations to encourage the use of Public-Private Partnerships.
  • Reprioritize the Investing in Canada Plan towards infrastructure projects that would have the maximum benefit for economic recovery.
  • Target projects that strengthen transit and trade, reduce congestion and gridlock, and advance economic reconciliation with First Nations.
  • reduce bureaucratic red tape in the application process so money can get out the door faster, to where it’s needed.
  • Build digital infrastructure to connect all of Canada to High-Speed Internet by 2025.
  • Accelerate the plan to get rural broadband built.
  • Speed up the spectrum auction process to get more spectrum into use and apply “use it or lose it” provisions to ensure that spectrum (particularly in rural areas) is actually developed, with auction revenue dedicated to our digital infrastructure plan.
  • Require that Huawei equipment not be used, to protect national security.
Critical Infrastructure
  • Pass a Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to prevent protestors from blocking key infrastructure.
Clean Water
  • Tighten the rules on cruise ships in Canadian waters to align with Alaska’s rules and prevent sewage & gray water dumping.
Cyber Security
  • Finish standing-up a properly funded, equipped, and staffed Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Command to defend Canada from cyber-attacks.
  • Emphasize reserve participation in CAF Cyber Command.
  • Establish closer collaboration between the private sector cyber industry and CAF Cyber Command.
  • Develop capabilities for cyber operations.
Drinking Water
  • Recognize safe drinking water as a fundamental human right and end long-term drinking water advisories.
  • Target high-risk water systems.
  • Work with Indigenous communities to find new approaches, such as regional or coalition-based governance, that will help ensure water systems investments are protected and continue providing clean drinking water in the long term.

Liberal Party of Canada 2021 Election Platform Highlights

Climate-Ready Infrastructure
  • Create open-access climate toolkits to help infrastructure owners and investors develop projects that ensure Canada is on the path to a net-zero emissions and resilient future. These toolkits will offer resiliency assessment methodologies, opportunities for incorporating low-carbon technologies and building materials, and carbon-emission calculation guidelines.
  • Establish and fully fund a Canada Water Agency in 2022, working with partners to safeguard our freshwater resources for generations to come, including by supporting provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners, in developing and updating river basin and large watershed agreements.
  • Modernize the 50-year-old Canada Water Act to reflect our new freshwater reality, including addressing climate change, Indigenous water rights.
  • Implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, including an historic investment of $1 billion over 10 years. This plan will provide essential funding to protect and restore large lakes and river systems, starting with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River System, Lake Simcoe, the Lake Winnipeg Basin, the Fraser River Basin, and the Mackenzie River Basin.
  • Invest $37.5 million in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario, the world’s only large-scale centre for freshwater science.
  • Offer willing municipalities means to manage and regulate boating on their lakes and rivers so that they promote free access, while ensuring the safety of boaters and the protection of the environment.
Clean Water
  • Make any investments necessary to eliminate all remaining advisories.
  • Make sure that resources and training are in place to prevent future ones.
  • Continue to move forward on our agreement in principle to resolve national class action litigation related to safe drinking water in First Nations communities.
  • Maintain our commitment to invest $6 billion to ensure sustainable access to clean water for First Nations.
Critical Infrastructure
  • Introduce legislation to safeguard Canada’s critical infrastructure, including our 5G networks, to preserve the integrity and security of our telecommunications systems.