Ottawa, Sep 21 – Canadians headed to the polls across the country to choose a new Prime Minister who will form the next federal government after a 36-day election campaign amid the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Due to Covid-19 public health restrictions, Canadians have cast their votes in some ways different from the past elections, reports Xinhua news agency.
About 6.8 million Canadians have already voted, most of whom cast their ballots in the advanced polling on September 10-13.
Millions of others who voted on Monday had to abide by certain Covid-19 protocols like physical distancing, sanitization, and wearing masks, which resulted in longer lines than usual at some polling places.
Throughout the election campaign, six political party leaders have made promises on Canada’s pandemic response, economy, child care, climate change, spending, indigenous reconciliation, taxes and housing.
On Sunday, party leaders made last-minute appeals in whirlwind tours in an effort to convince voters to choose them.
Incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party and the Erin O’Toole-led Conservative Party have been locked neck-and-neck and bounced back and forth in the lead position, with each claiming between 30 per cent and 32 per cent support in public polling.
A win for either would result in a minority government — and for the governing Liberal Party, not the majority Trudeau sought when he called the snap election on August 15.
The Liberals have the advantage for a win on Monday based on the slight edge of support the party is registering in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, which has the most seats, 121 out of the 338 that comprise the House of Commons.
To form a majority government, the Liberals would need to win 170 seats.
Most election winners will be decided by the end of Monday, but Elections Canada has warned it might take up to four days to finish counting the special ballots, meaning some close races won’t have official winners for several days.
With millions of Canadians heading out to vote on Monday for Canada’s 44th national election, there have been some reports about long lines and disturbances at polling stations.
In Toronto, several lines were spotted at voting locations.
In Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta province, police were reportedly called in over a disturbance at a polling station where two people refused to wear masks.