Canada at the Polls!
6. Supplementary Activities
Questions and Answers Game
- How many people does each member of Parliament represent?
Each member of Parliament represents approximately 63,000 to 120,000 people.
- How many federal electoral districts will there be in Canada, as of the 2015 federal general election?
There will be 338 electoral districts.
- How does a candidate win the seat for an electoral district?
The candidate with the most votes in an electoral district wins the seat in the House of Commons.
- Do the electoral district boundaries change? Why would they change? Who decides on the changes?
Every 10 years, the boundaries of electoral districts are reviewed in light of the demographic changes revealed by the national census. An independent commission is set up in each province to do this. Elections Canada provides the necessary technical support. The commissions recommend the changes they think are appropriate. Decisions are made by Parliament.
- How big or small can an electoral district be?
The size of electoral districts varies with population density. The smallest is Papineau (9 km2), while the largest is Nunavut (2,093,190 km2).
- What about the process for changing the boundaries of an electoral district? Is it fair for everyone in Canada?
The process for changing boundaries is fair because it increases the number of members of Parliament when the population increases, while provinces in which the population drops are protected by a formula enshrined in the Constitution that safeguards their representation. Interested citizens can participate in hearings to have input into the proposed changes.
- How many polling stations are there across Canada during a federal election?
There are over 66,000 polling stations in a federal election.
- There is no need for voting to take place in buildings with level access. Do you agree or disagree, and what are your reasons?
Voting must be done in buildings with level access so that all electors, including those with physical disabilities, can exercise their democratic rights.
- Who is responsible for conducting a federal election? Why is it an agency and not the government itself?
Elections Canada is responsible for conducting federal elections. This non-partisan agency has been made responsible for conducting elections to ensure that the process is fair.
- How many polling stations are there in an electoral district and how many electors does each one serve?
The returning officer in each electoral district is in charge of approximately 184 to 220 polling stations. Each polling station serves about 350 electors.
- Could a polling station be set up in your school?
Yes, schools are often used because they are usually centrally located, easy to find and usually accessible to persons with disabilities.
- What is the minimum duration of an election campaign?
For a federal election, it is 36 days.
- Why do you think there is a minimum but not a maximum length of time?
So that all Canadians have enough time to think about the issues before voting.
- Who can vote at the advance polls?
Voters who cannot vote on election day can vote earlier.
- Where can you find out about the rules governing federal elections?
From Elections Canada. Visit its Web site (www.elections.ca).
- On what day of the week are elections usually held? When does this change?
Elections are usually held on a Monday. If the Monday is a statutory holiday, then the election is held on the Tuesday.
- What rules must a person follow to become a candidate?
Candidates must be Canadian citizens, at least 18 years old and they must file nomination papers with the returning officer in the electoral district in which they are running, three weeks before election day. They must make a $1,000 deposit and their nomination papers must be signed by at least 100 electors residing in the electoral district (for some of the larger or remote ridings, only 50 signatures are required).
- If you were to run for election, what would be the benefits of representing a registered
A candidate representing a registered political party can benefit from working with other people who may share similar ideas, the party's advertising and its leaderís popularity.
- Why do you think candidates must keep a record of all donations over $20 that they receive?
Keeping a record of all donations lets the public know who contributes to a campaign, which helps prevent corruption or unfair influence.
- Name at least one reason why someone would vote by special ballot. How would you get one if you qualified?
Special ballots are available for electors who cannot get to their regular or advance polling station to vote (due to disability, a stay in hospital, or because they are students away at school). Members of the Canadian Forces and prison inmates also vote by special ballot. Electors apply for a special ballot by mail or fax, and include copies of proof of their identity and address.
- Is a person who is not registered before election day prevented from voting?
No, electors can be registered before the election or when they go to vote if they present proper identification with their address.
- Are the special ballot and advance polling stations important elements of our federal elections? Why?
Yes, they allow citizens who may not otherwise be able to vote to have their say in the future of the country.
- How many federal general elections have there been in Canada since Confederation?
The 41st general election was held on May 2, 2011. The 42nd general election is scheduled to be held on October 19, 2015.
- How does a referendum differ from an election?
The government may use a referendum to ask the people what their opinion is on a constitutional issue, or another important matter, by means of a question requiring a "yes" or "no" answer.
- What issues have referendums been called on?
Military conscription, liquor prohibition and constitutional reform have all been issues on which referendums have been held.
- Who first had the right to vote in Canada?
White men who owned registered property.
- In what year was the secret ballot first used? How did people vote before this? What problems might there be with this less formal method of voting?
In 1874. Before this, voting was done orally, in public, so that everyone knew how you voted. Your vote might thus have made you some enemies.
- What movement did Nellie McClung help start?
The movement for womenís right to vote.
- When did Aboriginal persons living on reserves obtain the right to vote?
- What form of government was there before the arrival of the Europeans? Who participated in the process?
In parts of Quebec and Ontario, it was the Iroquois Confederacy. Everyone participated, including women.
- How did "consensual decision making" work?
Everyone participated. All decisions had to be unanimous and the leader had to consult the group.
- Under what Prime Minister did women obtain the right to vote?
Sir Robert Borden.
- Statistics show that young electors participate less often in elections than older people do. Why do you think this might be?
Note: To answer this question, young people will have to give some thought to their own involvement in the electoral process, and the democratic system in general.
The following games, the Crossword Puzzle and Circle-a-Word, can be used any time but are primarily designed to be done by the members of your class or group while the vote is being held.
Since participants take about 30 seconds each to vote, the voting process may seem relatively long if your group is large. The two following activities are designed to entertain the participants at this stage of the simulated election, with simple games involving words related to elections.
Crossword Puzzle Clues
- H1 Division of the country for electoral purposes
- H2 They imply responsibility for voters
- H3 The mark X indicates the ____ of a voter
- H4 Seat of government
- H5 Documents ordering an election
- H6 Another word for polling station (shorter form)
- H7 Persons running in an election (who wish to be elected)
- H8 Said of something running behind
- H9 Only these people can vote
- H10 Said when two candidates have exactly the same number of votes
- V1 Accessory in a polling station that provides privacy for voting
- V2 When a candidate wins an election he has been ____
- V3 Persons who use a template to vote
- V4 Most candidates belong to this kind of a group
- V5 Persons representing candidates at a polling station*
- V6 Container in which ballot papers are deposited
- V7 When a ballot paper is improperly marked and found in the ballot box at counting time
- V8 Where appeals are heard
- V9 Said of a ballot paper improperly marked and exchanged for another one
- V10 Another word for count
- * Since the production of this crossword, the name scrutineers has been changed to candidates' representatives.
Crossword Puzzle Solution
Solution to Circle-a-Word