Your 2021 federal election eve primer

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September 19, 2021

Everything you need to know before e-day  

Did you think I was just going to leave you hanging this weekend?

Of course not! Over the last 35 days you've been kept on top of all the twists and turns of Election 2021, and so with the help of my colleague Ryan Flanagan (who also has his own climate-focused newsletter) may I present your comprehensive pre-election primer.

What happened this weekend?

As has become a bit of a tradition, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau spent the weekend on a full-throttle tour around the country.

Moving at a rapid pace through provinces holding rallies, campaign stops, and virtual events, Trudeau sought to drive home his main message: That his leadership is needed to finish the fight against COVID-19. He continued to not talk about hypothetical minority or majority outcomes, saying his focus was on getting supporters out to the polls. 

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole, meanwhile, kept his campaign moving along at the same clip it's been throughout, with fewer events comparatively but going all in on Ontario over Saturday and Sunday.

The major headline out of that campaign this weekend has been the party's refusal to say how many candidates, and by extension potential incoming MPs, have been vaccinated. Looking to pivot away from this, O'Toole has yet to take reporter questions today. Instead, his team bought 30 minutes of airtime on a few channels this morning to air what they described as a "mini documentary." 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also been racking up the air miles this weekend, with Saturday stops in Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Cranbrook, and then seven stops still underway in the metro Vancouver area on Sunday. 

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, People's Party Leader Maxime Bernier, and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul spent the final hours leading up to election day focused largely in on where they think their support is strongest: Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia respectively.

For more, CTV National News tonight will have team coverage from the last day on the campaign trail.

Where does public opinion stand?

According to polling numbers released on Sunday morning from Nanos Research, just 0.3 percentage points separate the Liberals and Conservatives.

The Liberals are polling at 30.8 per cent, a slight drop from the 31.3 per cent they had in the previous day's poll. The Conservatives saw their polling numbers increase from 29.2 per cent to 30.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the NDP are polling at a steady 21.0 per cent, up a tick from 20.9 per cent the previous day.

The People's Party of Canada saw their polling numbers drop from 7.3 per cent to 5.6 per cent. The party now sits below the Bloc Quebecois, which is polling at 6.5 per cent. The Greens are in sixth place, with 4.7 per cent support. Of those surveyed, 8.4 per cent are still undecided.

The poll carries a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

What should I expect at the polls?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means that your polling place experience is going to be different than any other in Canadian history. Polling stations will follow local distancing and masking regulations, voters will mark their ballots with single-use pencils, and there will be plenty of hand sanitizer to go around.

But what else should you be mindful of? Likely long lines and perhaps having to travel farther to get to your polling place. Polling places will be open for 12 hours, with the time varying depending on what province you are in. 

What if I haven't made up my mind?

You're not alone. You may find it helpful to consult our platform guide, which shows what the five leaders who were invited to the debates are promising to do about 14 different policy files, if elected as government. 

Or, if you are looking to learn more than you have in the last 35 days about the six main federal party leaders, we've written profiles of each. The links to all of them are here. 

What were the party standings at the start of this?

Heading into this election, as of Aug. 15 when the 338 writs of election were drawn up, the Liberals held 155 seats, the Conservatives held 119 seats, the Bloc Quebecois held 32 seats, the NDP held 24 seats, the Green Party held two seats, there were five Independent MPs, and one vacancy.

170 seats are needed to form a majority government.

On Monday, here is how many seats are up for grabs in each province and territory:
  • Alberta: 34
  • British Columbia: 42
  • Manitoba: 14
  • New Brunswick: 10
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 7
  • Northwest Territories: 1
  • Nova Scotia: 11
  • Nunavut: 1
  • Ontario: 121
  • Prince Edward Island: 4
  • Quebec: 78
  • Saskatchewan: 14
  • Yukon: 1

Will a winner be declared election night?

That remains to be seen. As colleague Sarah Turnbull has covered, any locally-submitted mail-in ballots won't begin to be counted until Tuesday and it could take up to five days to complete that count. With thousands requested in some ridings where the vote was won by just hundreds of ballots, there may be a series of ridings that could be too close to call on election night. 

We've highlighted 27 ridings that will be ones to watch, and make-or-break for parties' hopes of forming the next government. 

Media outlets may still declare winners as early as election night, if they do not believe the mail-in totals will substantially alter the outcome of the election.

Where do I watch results come in?

Special coverage helmed by CTV's Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme starts at 6:30 p.m. EDT Monday on, the CTV and CTV News apps, CTV, CTV News Channel, BNN Bloomberg, and

You will also be able to track results in real-time in all 338 ridings on election night with our live results map. 

What happens after tomorrow?

A few things to watch for: Does a party leader accept defeat and announce plans to step aside? If it's another minority government, how will the seat distribution alter the dynamics of who might prop up the leading party and how the potential scenarios play out? As well, when will the next cabinet be sworn in, and next Parliament convened?

Oh and a scheduled redistribution of electoral districts is on the docket, though with an estimated 2024 completion timeline. 

For all this and more, you're already set -- because you're a subscriber -- so congratulations and thanks for being here. Now, let's see what tomorrow brings.

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