Canadians are starting to head to the polls

With the federal election less than a week away, Canadians have already flocked to the polls as the campaign nears the finish line.

Judging by the advanced polling Canadians are extremely eager to see some sort of a change in Ottawa. Locally, we have heard advanced polling stations have seen long lines and wait times – which isn’t typically the case with any election.

According to Elections Canada, it is estimated that 1.6 million Canadians cast their ballots in the first two days of advanced voting – a 34% increase from the 2011 federal election.

Something has seemed to have shifted in the last two weeks – citizens are more engaged than they have ever been in what has been one of the longest campaigns in Canadian history being launched on August long weekend.

In the early days of the campaign, there was little appetite for anything of a political nature, but things have now heated up and the election is a hot topic across the country.

As of Monday, the polls showed the Liberal Party ahead at 34.2% with the Conservatives at 31.7%. The NDP lagged behind at 23.4%.

The party leaders have certainly had a busy campaign – they’ve had 11 weeks to spread their messages across the country – an unusually lengthy period of time, considering most campaigns run about 37 days or so.

However not a single leader, which include Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Green Leader Elizabeth May and Bloq Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe, has dropped into Red Deer during the last two months.

Harper may take for granted that Central Albertans are Tory Blue and maybe the other parties feel it may be somewhat of a loss cause – although with the recent provincial election which saw the province vote in the NDP – it is odd we would be passed over.

One would think they would campaign quite vigorously in this area. Needless to say, come next Monday, it will be interesting to see how Central Albertans cast their ballots.

For such a lengthy campaign, it has certainly been a dull one. Of course we have seen the usual attack ads, fear-mongering and hundreds of press releases of the party’s hammering away at each other. But there hasn’t been much meat – especially for those living in the west. Maybe that can’t be said for citizens in Ontario, but for us westerners, many see any federal election as being primarily decided by central Canada – which brings up other issues regarding electoral reform; but it remains to be seen what ultimately will happen with that.

Locally, Central Albertans have seen a boundary change that has been tough to wrap our heads around. The boundary changes see Red Deer split into two constituencies and extensively spread into the rural areas. How will one MP effectively represent such a large and diverse riding? That will certainly be a challenge, no doubt.

Meanwhile, we are certain that once next Monday rolls around, Canadians will be electioned-out.

It’s certainly unusual for campaigns to be this long – according to The Canadian Press, only Canada’s first two election campaigns were longer.

The 1867 campaign lasted 81 days, while the 1872 campaign went for 96 days. At that time, voting was staggered over the country for a period of several months. The longest race in recent history was a 74-day campaign back in 1926.

This time next week the political landscape of this country could be very different – it is up to citizens to make sure their voices are heard.

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