Canadian federal elections
are nation-wide votes that are held to decide who will govern Canada.
Elections can be called by the ruling party at any time and must be called within five years of the last election. Traditionally governments have waited four years between elections, but under Jean Chrétien's Liberal government elections have been held every three and half years. Parties generally only wait the maximum of five years between elections if they expect to lose and hope a postponement will allow more time for things to change in their favour.
Elections are generally held in either the fall of spring. This avoids the problems of a winter campaign, where outdoor events are hard to hold and voters are generally grumpier. It also avoids the problems of the summer with many people on holiday and many more uninterested in politics.
Using a first past the post system Canadians vote for members of Parliament, who are sent to the House of Commons. Canadians do not vote directly for the prime minister, nor do they vote for other positions such as senators. See also Canadian electoral system for more detail.
By-elections held between general elections can also be held. The federal government can also hold nation-wide referendums on major issues. The last referendum was held in 1992 over the Charlottetown Accord. On occasion elections can also act as referendums. The most recent instance of this was the 1988 election, which was proclaimed by most parties to be a referendum on free trade with the United States.
Canadian election turn-out is generally higher than that in the United States but lower than in most European nations. Election turn-out has also steadily been falling for many decades. Currently about two-thirds of eligible voters vote in federal elections.
The next Canadian election is expected in the spring of 2004.
List of Canadian Elections
For a more detailed list with results: List of Canadian federal elections
- 1867 Canadian election, Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservatives form Canada's first majority government
- 1872 Canadian election, Macdonald is re-elected with another majority
- 1874 Canadian election, Alexander Mackenzie's Liberals win their first majority government
- 1878 Canadian election, Macdonald's Conservatives sweep back to power with a majority government
- 1882 Canadian election, Macdonald is re-elected with another majority
- 1887 Canadian election, Macdonald is re-elected for his fifth majority government
- 1891 Canadian election, Sir John Abbott's Conservatives win a majority government
- 1896 Canadian election, Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals win a majority government
- 1900 Canadian election, Laurier is re-elected with another majority
- 1904 Canadian election, Laurier is re-elected for his third majority government
- 1908 Canadian election, Laurier is re-elected for his fourth majority government
- 1911 Canadian election, Sir Robert Borden's Conservatives win a majority government
- 1917 Canadian election, Borden's pro-conscription unionists win a majority government
- 1921 Canadian election, William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberals win a minority government
- 1925 Canadian election, King is re-elected with another minority
- 1926 Canadian election, King wins a majority government
- 1930 Canadian election, Bennett's Conservatives win a majority
- 1935 Canadian election, King's Liberals swept back in majority
- 1940 Canadian election, King's Liberals is re-elected with another majority
- 1945 Canadian election, King's Liberals win a third straight majority government
- 1949 Canadian election, Louis St. Laurent's Liberals win a majority government
- 1953 Canadian election, St. Laurent wins a second majority government
- 1957 Canadian election, John Diefenbaker's Tories win a surprise minority government
- 1958 Canadian election, Diefenbaker re-elected with a strong majority
- 1962 Canadian election, Lester B. Pearson's Liberals defeat Diefenbaker's Tories, but win only a minority government
- 1965 Canadian election, Pearson re-elected with another minority government
- 1968 Canadian election, Pierre Trudeau's Liberals win a majority government
- 1972 Canadian election, Trudeau re-elected with a minority government
- 1974 Canadian election, Trudeau wins a majority government
- 1979 Canadian election, Joe Clark's Tories win a minority government defeating Trudeau
- 1980 Canadian election, Pierre Trudeau is re-elected with a majority government
- 1984 Canadian election, Brian Mulroney's Tories win the largest majority ever defeating John Turner's Liberals
- 1988 Canadian election, Brian Mulroney's Tories are re-elected to a second majority government
- 1993 Canadian election, Jean Chrétien's Liberals defeat Kim Campbell's Conservatives
- 1997 Canadian election, Chrétien's Liberals are re-elected to a second majority government
- 2000 Canadian election, Chrétien's Liberals are re-elected to a majority government
- 2004 Canadian election, is expected to be held this spring, Paul Martin will lead the Liberals who are looking for a fourth consecutive majority government