So here where I live we recently finished a provincial election. Today is, of course, election day for my American friends. Next Monday we vote locally for mayor, school board, and city council. There had been the brief threat of a federal election as well but a crucial vote in the House forestalled that.
For anyone interested, here are some major differences between voting in the U.S. and in Canada. Federally, or nationally if one prefers, the Prime Minister can call an election anytime with a maximum of five years between votes. The same is true provincially. So where you folks down south vote for a large number of people all in one swoop, we experience staggered election times with no set dates for any of them.
Locally is the exception, however. These take place every three years on the dot. Further, there are no political affiliations attached to those running for mayor, council and school board, although it’s easy to see what most of them represent. There is just no formal party throwing it’s muscle into any local campaigns. Interestingly, when I go to vote for these ones I am asked if I support the Public School system or the Catholic. Saskatchewan is one of only three Canadian provinces with two school systems paid for with tax dollars.
Where Americans have only two major parties to choose, we have had as many as six, though only two have any real chance of forming a government, the Liberals and Conservatives. Two others, the socialist NDP and the Bloc Quebeois, the separtist party which fields candidates only in Quebec. These latter two will win a few dozen seats between them out of the 338 which make up Parliament. Then there is the Green Party which has little impact, and the odd independent. A stark difference in campaigns is that, where in the U.S. the process begins over a year before election time and seems incredibly complex to we northerners, Canada permits only a few weeks for getting it done. The 2015 federal campaign lasted 78 days, the longest on record.