VANCOUVER – Forty days of cross-country campaigning and it all comes down to your vote today.
Canadians will cast their ballots in the country’s 43rd general election after what federal leaders themselves have called a nasty and divisive campaign.
Polling stations have started to open in some areas of the country, and there are certainly some key battlegrounds that could decide this federal election.
Previous polls point to a very tight race. On Sunday, a survey from Main Street Research pointed to the Liberals and Conservatives being in a virtual dead heat when it comes to the percentage of the popular vote they’re projected to win.
However, polls on voter support have flip flopped over recent weeks, between the Grits and Tories.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer have spent weeks arguing the decision is between which of the two historical governing parties will be in office, but the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh has drawn support from progressive voters and the Bloc Quebecois has surged in Quebec.
Both of the latter scenarios could scuttle hopes of a majority government and put either party into the position of power-broker in a hung Parliament.
Green Leader Elizabeth May is hoping her Green party can capitalize on its recent success in provincial votes and translate that to more seats in the House of Commons.
People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier, who has spent much of the campaign trying to protect his own seat in Quebec, will find out whether his upstart PPC is a movement or a footnote.
Election day comes after a strong advance vote, when 4.7 millions ballots were cast across the country.
Polling stations will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. in B.C., which is where Trudeau, Scheer, Jagmeet Singh, and May all held last minute rallies over the weekend — none, apparently, taking the vote in Metro Vancouver for granted in such a close race.
Some experts have said B.C. could play a crucial role in Monday’s vote.
“B.C. was quite critical in the last election, and I think in this election they’re going to be critical as well. It doesn’t look like any party is going to win a majority this time but the seats in B.C. particularly Lower Mainland seats could determine which of the big two parties come first,” explains Hamish Telford, associate professor of political science at the University of the Fraser Valley.
In 2015, the Trudeau Liberals only sealed their majority after ballots were counted in B.C. The party jumped from two seats in the province to 17.
Telford says Ontario will likely go Liberal, and the Prairies are projected to go Conservative.
“Then it’ll come down to B.C.. Will the Conservatives catch up and surpass the Liberals with the results from B.C. or will the Liberals hang on to a slim lead?” he questions. “There are quite a few seats around Vancouver that could flip one way or another.”
The leaders have been making campaign stops in B.C. in contested ridings where polls show close races.
“In a lot of these battleground ridings in British Columbia–on Vancouver Island and around the Lower Mainland–the leaders arrive and it energizes their supporters. It energizes particularly their volunteers and keeps them working hard while the leaders fly off to Ontario and Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Then the leaders come back to give them another sort of pep talk and morale boost and on they soldier,” Telford explains.
Quebec is a fierce battle ground in any federal election, and this time is no different as parties look to make the province an important part of their path to victory.
However, Maclean’s Ottawa Bureau Chief John Geddes explains the two frontrunners have failed to gain significant traction in the province.
“The momentum has all been in the Bloc Quebecois and that’s got to be concerning for the main parties, when they can’t make some headway during what has been a very vigorous campaign,” he says.
Some voters around Montreal blame a lack of inspiration from other leaders, as well as a split between Anglophones and Francophones. Many of these people say they’re feeling anxious about how this will turn out, and what it will mean for their province.
Others, like Mark, say they’re not sure how this election will turn out. However, he says he isn’t buying the numbers on the Bloc’s presence in the province.
“I think Quebec is a bit tired of all of this movement in between sovereignty and being part of Canada,” he says.
Montreal was a fortress for the Liberals in the last election. It’s where Trudeau and his party supporters will gather tonight to watch the results come in, and hope for another four years in power.
There are still multiple ridings in the Greater Toronto Area where polls from 338Canada have shown the race is still a toss-up. All of the ridings are currently held by the Liberals, which could prove damaging to the party if any of them turn blue.
Whitby, Ontario is a vote-rich battleground many believe will help form the next government.
John Wright with DART describes voters in the 905 as a fickle group, adding it’s hard to predict which way the tide will turn.
“It was the Liberals that got handed the 905 in the last election as their gateway, and now, it’s wavering,” he says. “Doug Ford won it in the last election campaign, the Liberals have won it before. It’s a really important region that, in fact, depending upon what the nature of the issue is and how hard the campaign is, they can make the difference in the country.”
Related video: Voter apathy could make or break the election
Join us tonight for our Canada Votes 2019 coverage, on-air and online. We’ll have the latest on results from across the country, and a panel to provide insights through the evening.
-With files from Mike Lloyd, Cormac Mac Sweeney, Lisa Steacy, and Hana Mae Nassar