FAQs – General Questions
Below are general frequently asked questions.
- What is my riding?
- How many ridings are there in Canada?
- How do I make a complaint about a violation of the Canada Elections Act?
- How do I file a general complaint or give feedback on the conduct of a federal election?
- How do I make a complaint about a misleading or inappropriate phone call?
- Are political parties and candidates allowed to phone electors? Are they allowed to use "robocalls"?
- I received a misleading communication – a call, text or letter with the wrong information about voting. What should I do?
- Does Elections Canada call electors to tell them where to vote?
- Does Elections Canada give electors' telephone numbers to political parties?
- What organizations are involved in administering and enforcing the Canada Elections Act?
- Elections Canada sometimes shares information with other organizations. Which ones?
- Do you have educational resources for schools?
- How do I order educational resources?
- How does Elections Canada protect the personal information it collects?
- What is the difference between an elector and a voter?
- Who is responsible for the leaders' debates?
Questions and Answers
What is my riding?
Canada is divided into 338 ridings (also called electoral districts). One representative, or member of Parliament, is elected for each riding.
Each riding has a returning officer, who opens an office when an electoral event is called. The returning officer is responsible for organizing and administering federal elections and referendums in that riding.
You can find the name of your riding using the Voter Information Service.
How many ridings are there in Canada?
There are 338 ridings in Canada, divided as follows:
- Newfoundland and Labrador – 7
- Prince Edward Island – 4
- Nova Scotia – 11
- New Brunswick – 10
- Ontario – 121
- Quebec – 78
- Saskatchewan – 14
- Manitoba – 14
- Alberta – 34
- British Columbia – 42
- Yukon – 1
- Northwest Territories – 1
- Nunavut – 1
How do I make a complaint about a violation of the Canada Elections Act?
How do I file a general complaint or give feedback on the conduct of a federal election?
To provide feedback on the conduct of an election, an election worker or another general matter, please use the online complaint form. At election time, feedback forms are also available at the polls as well as at Elections Canada offices.
The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer (Elections Canada) handles complaints that are not believed to be violations of the Canada Elections Act.
How do I make a complaint about a misleading or inappropriate phone call?
Electors may get live or recorded phone calls ("robocalls"). If you believe you have received a misleading or inappropriate call, please write to the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections.
Are political parties and candidates allowed to phone electors? Are they allowed to use "robocalls"?
Telephone calls to electors are legal and a normal part of campaigning. This includes live calls and "robocalls" (calls made using an Automatic Dialing-Announcing Device or ADAD).
Parties, candidates and third parties may call to:
- promote or oppose a party or candidate
- encourage people to vote
- provide information about voting hours and locations
- gather information about voting intentions and past voting practices
- raise money for a party or contestant
Calls must comply with the Canada Elections Act, which (among other things) makes it illegal to:
- falsely represent yourself as being from Elections Canada or from a candidate's or party's office with the intent of misleading another person
- induce a person to vote, to refrain from voting, or to vote for or against a particular candidate by "any pretence or contrivance," for example, through a misleading call
- knowingly make a false statement of fact in relation to the personal character or conduct of a candidate with the intention of affecting the result of the election
Following changes to the Canada Elections Act in June 2014, there are new requirements for calling service providers who contact electors as well as for people or groups (such as political parties) who enter into agreements with such providers or who contact electors directly using their internal services or an ADAD. These include registration requirements, which are administered by the CRTC through the Voter Contact Registry.
As well, the CRTC's Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules apply to some unsolicited telecommunications made by or on behalf of political entities, including registered parties, riding associations, candidates and their official campaigns, as well as third parties.
I received a misleading communication – a call, text or letter with the wrong information about voting. What should I do?
- make sure you have the correct information you need to vote
- ask for details about the communication you received
- respond operationally as appropriate, for instance by:
- checking if others received similar calls
- contacting the group making the calls (if known) to ask them to stop
- reminding people to visit elections.ca or call Elections Canada if they have questions or concerns
- warning people about the misleading communication through local media, social media, a message on our website or staff on the ground
It is illegal to willfully misdirect electors in order to prevent them from voting, whether it's done by live phone call, robocall, text, letter or some other manner.
If it appears an offence was committed under the Canada Elections Act, we may share the information you provide with the Commissioner of Canada Elections and, in some cases, the CRTC. Read more about the organizations we share information with.
Does Elections Canada call electors to tell them where to vote?
No. Elections Canada never phones, texts or e-mails electors to tell them where to vote or to say that a polling place has moved.
We inform all registered electors of where to vote by mailing them a voter information card. Electors can also contact Elections Canada or enter their postal code in the Voter Information Service to find out where to vote.
Does Elections Canada give electors' telephone numbers to political parties?
By law, we supply electors' lists to political parties and candidates; the lists contain only the name, address and unique identifier number for each registered voter. Often, parties and candidates get electors' phone numbers from another source, like a commercial data broker.
What organizations are involved in administering and enforcing the Canada Elections Act?
Elections Canada administers federal elections. Other organizations also have a role:
- The Commissioner of Canada Elections is the officer whose duty is to ensure that the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. A written agreement outlines how the Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer collaborate on the administration and enforcement of the Canada Elections Act.
- The CRTC is the commission that administers the new Voter Contact Registry. In addition, in accordance with the Telecommunications Act, the CRTC regulates unsolicited telecommunications, including many of the calls made on behalf of political entities.
Elections Canada sometimes shares information with other organizations. Which ones?
If Elections Canada has information about a possible offence under the Canada Elections Act, we may share it with the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, the independent officer responsible for ensuring that the Canada Elections Act is complied with and enforced.
If we have information relating to the Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules or Voter Contact Registry, we may share it with the CRTC.
We have signed memoranda of understanding with these organizations to govern our information sharing.
We may also disclose information on criminal activities to law enforcement authorities.
Do you have educational resources for schools?
Yes, Elections Canada has a range of educational resources for teachers at the primary, middle and secondary level.
How do I order educational resources?
All educational resources can be found on our new website, electionsanddemocracy.ca. They can be downloaded, printed and ordered for free.
How does Elections Canada protect the personal information it collects?
Elections Canada is committed to transparency in everything we do, especially when ensuring that Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote, be a candidate or work during an electoral event. Learn more about Privacy at Elections Canada.
What is the difference between an elector and a voter?
An elector is any Canadian citizen 18 years old or older on polling day. A voter is a Canadian citizen who has voted.
Who is responsible for the leaders' debates?
The Leaders' Debates Commission is responsible for organizing two leaders’ debates for the next federal election (one in each official language), and for determining the eligibility of party leaders to participate in the federal debates.
If you have questions concerning the debates, please write to the Leaders' Debates Commission.