Preliminary data from Elections Canada shows that 59 percent of roughly 27 million registered Canadian electors cast their ballots, although this figure could change once approximately 1 million mail-in ballots are counted. Not since 2008, when 58.8 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, have so few Canadians exercised their democratic right.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh blamed the low voter turnout on Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau for calling a snap election during the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic while Trudeau claims the results have given the Liberals a “clear mandate” from Canadians to lead the country into “a brighter future.”
“Trudeau should never have called it, he claimed that he wanted to hear from people. Well, this is the lowest turnout despite one of the biggest crises we’ve ever faced,” Singh said during a Sept. 21 press conference.
Singh cited difficulties in voting accessibility that were “discouraging” for people including long lineups, students unable to vote on campus, and confusion in Indigenous communities on how to access polling stations on election day.
“We pride ourselves on being a democracy where we want to make it easy for people to vote, and what we saw was not that,” Singh said.
In the 2015 election, when Trudeau and the Liberal Party came into power, voter turnout was at 68.3 percent. In 2019, he was re-elected when at least 67 percent of registered voters cast their ballot.
The process of counting over 1 million mail-in ballots from across the country could take Elections Canada several days, leaving ridings that are in a tight race with uncertain outcomes.
While British Columbia has the greatest amount of mail-in ballots, Ontario has the largest number of races in which the outcome could be decided by mail-in ballots.
In Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Conservative candidate Sonny Spina trails the Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan by less than a hundred votes with 1,660 mail-in ballots remaining uncounted.
In Alberta, two seats are also too close to be called. With roughly 3,200 mail-in ballots uncounted in Edmonton Centre, Liberal Randy Boissonnault is leading Conservative James Cumming by only 136 votes.
In Edmonton-Griesbach, where 2,166 mail-in ballots were received, NDP Blake Desjarlais is leading Conservative Kerry Diotte by roughly 1,000 votes.