Tools to Help You Navigate the Canadian Election

After the Conservative government was found to be in contempt of Parliament, the government fell and Canadians were plunged into election mode. We are now about two weeks into a whirlwind six week election campaign that will end with the vote on May 2, 2011.

Whether you are a new voter, a seasoned pundit looking for more tools to play with, or a non-Canadian who wants to learn more about Canadian politics, this article is designed to introduce you to some online tools to help you navigate the election.

Elections Canada

Elections Canada is the independent, non-partisan agency that is responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums in Canada. The site has comprehensive information for voters who want to find out when, where and how to vote. It also has information on the basics of the electoral system in Canada for those who want to learn more about our first-past-the-post system of directly electing 308 members of the House of Commons.

Vote Compass

Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, has developed a Vote Compass to help voters understand how their opinions on issues correspond with the platforms of Canada’s major political parties. The use of the tool has been extremely high, but it also has its critics — mainly people saying that the way the questions are expressed doesn’t give people room to give an answer that is truly representative of their views (or those of the political parties themselves).

Pundit’s Guide

This website, developed and maintained by Alice Funke, is heaven-on-the-Web for pundit geeks like me. The site has tons of data, but the section I am using most often is the Regions section, where users can look up their own region and specific riding to find out who the candidates are, how people voted in the past, financial information on campaign spending and more.

Cyberpresse – How did your neighbors vote?

This website is in French only, but is incredibly fascinating and you only need minimal French to be able to navigate through it. Basically, you select your riding from the drop down box above the map (“choissisez une circonscription”) and you can then get polling station by polling station data for your riding, which gives you very detailed information on exactly how the people who live closest to you voted.

Election Prediction

This website runs an ongoing prediction of the results of the election, identifying on a riding-by-riding basis which parties are expected to win. It also lists “too close” ridings that cannot yet be predicted because the race is too close. Those are the areas to watch in the election. If you are in one of those ridings (80 of them are listed as “too close” right now), you have a good chance of helping to determine the outcome of the election.

Vote Pair

The Vote Pair service, which uses the tagline “6 million votes shouldn’t be wasted,” allows Canadians to swap votes with someone in a different riding. If your preferred party has no chance of winning, you can swap votes with someone in a riding where your party does have a chance of winning and theirs doesn’t. This system (and other similar ones) was used by thousands of people in the last election (mostly in an attempt to shut out the Conservatives wherever possible) and may have potentially altered the results in two ridings.

Political Party Websites and Social Media Presence

All of the major political parties have websites and they are also making extensive use of twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube and more to get their message out to Canadians.

The websites of the major political parties are:

The NDP has even created an iphone app, which appears to be quite popular.


A lot of people are calling this the twitter election. Not only are the political parties and the party leaders online, but individual candidates, staffers, journalists, pundits and politically active Canadians are using twitter as a way to share their opinions and ask questions about the election. The general hash tag used to discuss Canadian politics on twitter is #cndpoli and the hash tag being used for this election in particular is #elxn41 (41st Election). 
People are also using the acronym of individual political parties as hash tags when discussing their platform and campaigns (e.g. #NDP). I have also created a Canadian politics twitter list that follows the major political parties, their leaders and some journalists and pundits that are following the campaign closely.

Other Resources?

What other online resources do you use to follow the campaign, to learn about the issues, and to decide how to vote?

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Annie blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

Image credit: D'Arcy Norman on flickr


William C
William C5 months ago

Interesting, thanks.

W. C
W. C5 months ago

Thank you for the article.

Brian P.
.7 years ago

Not only is Harper in contempt of Parliament but he is in contempt of the Canadian public at large. Technically Harper should not be allowed to run for office because of the contempt charge.

I am tired of corporate welfare being given to corporations that extract our nations resources and don't pay taxes while taking money from the taxpayers.

I am tired of conservative secrecy and lack of public accountability (contempt again!).

Social responsibility is the obligation of all governments - if you take care of your people first, business will benefit but not the other way around.

HarperInc has squandered the budget surplus they inherited from the Liberals (who are far from perfect too) and taken our national debt to record levels (one thing HarperInc has done better than Mulroney). 135 years of data demonstrates that Canada has consistently performed better under Liberal governance.

A Harper majority would be bad for the average Canadian but I'm sure it would benefit his corporate backers quite nicely.

Think progressive not regressive!

Linda F.
Linda F7 years ago

I can not get pass the corruption in the Conservative party, and the smug attiitude of Harper. Only PM who has been charged with contempt of parliament. I feel he as done some good, but our government system is to be given more credit than the PM. The reason why we came out of this economic disaster that has effected our neighbors, is our bank system is better, and we have more protection, and rules that are in place.

I just can not vote for Harper, I do not trust him anymore.

lyn L.
l L7 years ago

As far as this write up, I am curious. Did anyone bother to think that in judging a persons voting record is not an absolute? Why? cause if you are a part of a country and the section you represent don't suffer from the things that are needed in another part of a country does it mean that person is to be so small minded not to vote for it just because the section he comes from sees it as wasteful spending cause they don't need it? Being intelligent requires more that not spending and to spend. I always do research before I make a judgement call. I read posts to see the minds of people as to how and why they think a certain way. i just don't say a thing is a thing without good reason.

lyn L.
l L7 years ago

There is nothing wrong with democrats, I thank you. They always win elections after the idiot section has pissed all you republican lovers so mad because whatever they did hit your pocketbook. As long as it didn't all you macho war loving bullies was satisfied to have a republican run country, while the rest of us complained. Now the repugs have some power and are back at it again. Such hypocrits you are. Now wonder why this country can't measure up to it's greatness talk. You are hypocrits and you love it. What can be said for you, linda, susan c.

Julie P.
Julie P7 years ago

This is an excellent post Annie! This election is too important for people to be deciding their vote based on attack ads and political promises. I follow "How'd They Vote" to see the positions my MP and each party has taken on bills.

I also read the Council of Canadians website daily. The Council of Canadians, which does not accept corporate or government funding, works "to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians."

The Council of Canadians has extensive, ongoing election coverage pertaining to the policies mentioned above and other issues, such as climate change and the environment

I read a variety of newspapers and political blogs also. Often the comments sections on articles are more interesting than the articles themselves.

I am very concerned about the future of health care in this country and inaction on climate change, amongst numerous other issues. I encourage every single Canadian to take the time to research each party and share the information discovered with friends and family.

Susan C.
Susan C7 years ago

Thanks, very useful article.

I'm still angry with the Liberals who - thanks to their corruption - did a lot to land us with the neoCons. But isn't it always so? those on high do the wrongs and the rest of us suffer.

Although I don't know what kind, Canada sorely needs a proportional voting system.

Rose N.
Past Member 7 years ago

Thank you for posting.

Linda B.
Linda Querel7 years ago

How quickly we forget.....the Liberals are out due to past disappearances of huge sums of money, of being in power so long they did whatever they felt like, they got smug and arrogant. They stay out of power because of their unpopular leader, people are not fond of the idea that Ignatieff was out of the country most of his adult life and was brough back to do the job. This doesn't sit well with me or many others. Steven Harper has done a pretty good job, don't agree with everything, but for the most part his term has had it's challenges, many of them, and he has come through and so have we - ok. Politics is his life not just a sideline. He knows Canada pretty well and yes he does run a tight ship but we need that at this time. This election is costing us millions of $ and I think it is going to come out about the same, that is a real shame and a waste of a huge amount of money.