Federal Election Trivia

Bibliographic Sources:

Canadian Guide of Electoral History and Leadership, 1867 to Date. Edited by Wayne D. Madden. Ottawa: Library of Parliament, 1988-

Elections Canada opens up to conduct federal election across Canada. Ottawa: Elections Canada, 1993.

A History of the vote in Canada. Ottawa : Published by Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada for the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, 1997.

Canada votes : a handbook of federal and provincial election data. Scarrow, Howard A., New Orleans : Hauser Press, 1962.

 

Elections are anything but trivial. Brush up on some fun facts about Canadian federal elections.

Elections


What is the most popular season to hold a federal general election in Canada?

Canadians have gone to the polls most often in the fall; 15 fall elections have been held since 1867, 12 elections have been held in summer, 10 in the spring and only 5 have been held in winter.

What was the highest voter turnout for federal general elections between 1867 and 2015?

March 31, 1958 - 79.4% of the electorate voted.

Which province had the highest voter turnout for federal general elections between 1867 and 2015?

  • Yukon - March 31, 1958 - 90% of the electorate voted.
  • Prince Edward Island - June 18, 1962 - 90% of the electorate voted.

What was the lowest voter turnout for federal general elections between 1867 and 2015?

October 14, 2008 - 58.8% of the electorate voted.

Which province had the lowest voter turnout for federal general elections between 1867 and 2015?

Manitoba - June 20, 1882 - 32% of the electorate voted.

How long is an election campaign?

An election campaign is at least 36 days.

What was the shortest election campaign and when was it held?

The January 22, 1874 general election campaign lasted only 20 days.

What was the longest election campaign and when was it held?

The October 19, 2015 election campaign was 78 days long.

How many electors were on the August 7 - September 20, 1867 general election lists and how many voted as compared to the October 19, 2015 general election?

  • There were 361,028 electors on the August 7 - September 20, 1867 general election lists.  268,387 ballots were cast, for a turnout of  73.1%
  • The October 19, 2015 general election list had 26,044,131 electors of which 17,711,983 voted, for a turnout of 68,3%

What is the voting age and the minimum age to run as a candidate in federal elections, and have they always been the same?

To vote and to run as a candidate in federal election one must be 18 years old. Previous to the 1970 Canada Elections Act revision, the voting age and minimum age to run as a candidate in a federal election was 21 years old.

Electoral Process


Who calls the election?

The process is set in motion when the Prime Minister requests the Governor General, who represents the Queen as the head of state, to dissolve Parliament and to request the issue of writs by the Chief Electoral Officer for an election.

(Source: Library of Parliament - Parliamentary Information and Research service)

Periods between elections (minimum and maximum)

Constitutionally, elections must be held every five years, although, by tradition, they are usually held at approximately four-year intervals.

(Source: Library of Parliament - Parliamentary Information and Research service)

How many votes does a party need to form the government?

"The party that wins the largest number of seats in a general election ordinarily forms the Government. Its leader is asked by the Governor General to become Prime Minister. If the government in office before an election comes out of the election without a clear majority, it has the right to meet the new House of Commons and see whether it can get enough support from the minor parties to give it a majority. This happened in 1925-26, 1962 and 1972."

(Source: How Canadians Govern Themselves)

If a Bill has had three readings by both the House of Commons and the Senate, but has not received Royal Assent, is it considered dead?

The Constitution Act, 1867 states that the approval of the Crown, signified by Royal Assent, is required for any bill to become law after passage by both the Senate and the House of Commons.

(Source: Compendium of House of Commons Procedure)

All Chamber activity ceases with dissolution, and all incomplete business is terminated, including government bills and Private Members' Business.

(Source: Compendium of House of Commons Procedure)

Does the House of Commons have to be sitting for an election to be called?

A Parliament may be dissolved at any time. If the House is sitting and there is not to be a prorogation ceremony in the Senate Chamber, the dissolution is usually announced to the House by the Prime Minister or another Minister. The Speaker then leaves the Chair without further ado.

(Source: House of Commons Procedure and Practice (Marleau and Montpetit) (2000 Edition))

Federal Ridings


Since the last election, what is the distribution of seats in the House of Commons by province and territory?

Alberta 34 British Columbia 42 Manitoba 14
New Brunswick 10 Newfoundland 7 Northwest Territories 1
Nova Scotia 11 Nunavut 1 Ontario 121
Prince Edward Island 4 Quebec 78 Saskatchewan 14
Yukon 1
Total 338

What was the distribution of seats in the House of Commons by province and territory in 1867?

New Brunswick 16 Nova Scotia 19 Ontario 82 Quebec 65
Total 181

In 2011 the distribution of seats in the House of Commons was increased to 338 seats. What was it previously?

Alberta 28 British Columbia 36 Manitoba 14
New Brunswick 10 Newfoundland 7 Northwest Territories 1
Nova Scotia 11 Nunavut 1 Ontario 106
Prince Edward Island 4 Quebec 75 Saskatchewan 14
Yukon 1
Total 308

What is the smallest federal riding?

Papineau, Quebec: it is only 9 square kilometers in size.

What is the largest federal riding?

Nunavut, Nunavut: it is 2,093,190 square kilometers in size.

In the 2015 general election, which federal riding had the greatest number of ballots cast?

Orléans, Ontario: there were 78,260 ballots cast in the election (80,6 %).

In the 2015 general election, which federal riding had the greatest number of candidates?

The riding of Papineau (Quebec) had 10 candidates.

Majority and Minority Governments


When was the longest majority government?

The longest majority government lasted 2191 days (5 years, 11 months and 31 days). It occurred during the 12th Parliament: the writs were returned on October 7, 1911 and Parliament was dissolved October 6, 1917.

When was the shortest majority government?

The shortest majority government lasted 486 days (1 year, 3 months and 30 days). It occurred during the 2nd Parliament: the writs were returned on September 3, 1872 and October 12, 1872 and Parliament was dissolved January 2, 1874.

What is the largest government majority?

The March 31, 1958 general election brought in a Progressive Conservative government claiming 208 seats of a total of 265 seats, giving the Progressive Conservatives a majority of 151 seats.

What is the smallest government majority?

Two general elections gave Canada a government with a majority of 5 seats:

The September 14, 1926 election saw the Liberal/Liberal Progressive government claim 125 seats of a total of 245 seats.

The June 11, 1945 election also saw the Liberals claim 125 seats of a total of 245 seats.

What is the average duration of a minority government in Canada

The average duration of a minority government in Canada is 1 year, 7 months and 27 days.

When was the longest minority government?

The longest minority government lasted 1329 days (3 years, 7 months, and 20 days). It occurred during the 14th Parliament: the writs were returned on January 15, 1922 and Parliament was dissolved September 5, 1925.

However, due to coalition-building, by-elections and Members crossing the floor, the government of William Lyon Mackenzie King fluctuated between minority and majority status during the 14th Parliament.

The longest uninterrupted minority government, in which the government maintained a minority throughout, lasted 937 days (2 years, 6 months, and 24 days). It occurred during the 39th Parliament: the writs were returned on February 13, 2006 and Parliament was dissolved on September 7, 2008.

When was the shortest minority government?

The shortest minority government lasted 177 days (5 months and 24 days). It occurred during the 23rd Parliament: the writs were returned on August 8, 1957 and Parliament was dissolved February 1, 1958.

What is the largest government minority?

The January 23, 2006 general election saw the Conservatives form the government with only 124 seats of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. The opposition parties collectively held 60 seats more than the Government.

What is the smallest government minority?

Two general elections gave Canada a government with a minority of only 3 seats:

On December 6, 1921 the Liberal government won 116 seats and the opposition claimed the other 119 seats.

On November 8, 1965 the Liberal government won 131 seats and the opposition claimed the other 134 seats.

Members of Parliament


In 1867 and 2011, what were the top 10 professions of elected candidates?

1867 (total of 180 MPs)

Lawyer 58 Merchant 42
Farmer 24 Physician 17
Businessman 12 Editor 12
Author 12 Lumber merchant 12
Contractor 9 Miller 8

2011 (total of 308 MPs)

Businessman / Businesswoman 59 Lawyer 44
Consultant 36 Teacher 31
Director 23 Manager 23
Farmer 20 Professor 19
Executive 17 Author 15

In what year was full federal voting rights given to Canada’s Native peoples?

Full federal voting rights were granted to Canada's Native peoples in 1960.

Who was the oldest sitting Member of Parliament?

William Anderson Black was still a Member of Parliament when he died at the age of 86 years, 10 months and 22 days.

Who holds the smallest personal majority?

January 22, 1874 general election:

John A. Dawson (Pictou, Nova Scotia): The constituency of Pictou, Nova Scotia had two members from 1872 to 1896. In 1874, Dawson had the second highest number of votes, which gave him a majority of 1 vote over the third candidate.

February 22, 1887 general election:

Édouard Guilbault (Joliette, Québec): He won by 1 vote. The election was declared void on November 6, 1888. Guilbault was defeated in the January 16, 1889 by-election by 147 votes.

Charles Langelier (Montmorency, Québec): He won by 1 vote.

Walter H. Montague (Haldimand, Ontario): He won by 1 vote. The election was declared void. Montague won the November 12, 1887 by-election by 17 votes, which was also declared void. Charles W. Coulter won the January 30, 1889 by-election by 46 votes, but again the election was declared void. Montague won the February 20, 1890 by-election with a majority of 227 votes.

March 5, 1891 general election:

Franklin M. Carpenter (Wentworth South, Ontario): He won by 1 vote.

Joseph Hector Leduc (Nicolet, Québec): In the original count his majority was 5, a recount gave him a majority of 1.

June 23, 1896 general election:

John A. MacDonnell (Selkirk, Manitoba): He won by 1 vote.

John A. McGillivray (Ontario North, Ontario): He won by 1 vote. The election was declared void December 24, 1896. McGillivray was defeated in the February 4, 1897 by-election by 17 votes.

November 7, 1900 general election:

William F. McCreary (Selkirk, Manitoba): He won by 1 vote.

Alex McNeill (Bruce North, Ontario): He won by 1 vote.

July 28, 1930 general election:

Aimé Boucher (Yamaska, Quebec): He won by 1 vote. He was unseated by a Supreme Court decision on December 23, 1932. Boucher won the October 23, 1933 by-election by 84 votes.

Who holds the largest personal majority in the history of federal elections?

Maurizio Bevilacqua was elected for York North, Ontario with a majority of 51,389 votes in the October 25, 1993 general election.

Who was the first Inuit elected to the House of Commons?

Peter Ittinuar (Nunatsiaq, Northwest Territories) was the first Inuit elected to the House of Commons in the May 22, 1979 general election.

Who is the youngest sitting M.P. of the the 41st Parliament?

Pierre-Luc Dusseault  was elected in the May 2, 2011 general election at the age of 19 years and 11 months.

Since 1867, how many candidates have been elected by acclamation?

Since 1867, 622 candidates have been elected by acclamation, either in general elections or in by-elections.

Joseph-Aldéric Ouimet, (MP for Laval, Quebec between 1873-1896) was elected 5 times by acclamation: 1873 (by-election), 1874 (general election), 1878 (general election), 1882 (general election) and 1892 (by-election).

Who was the first of the First Nations origin elected to the House of Commons?

Len Marchand (Kamloops-Caribou, British Columbia) was the first of First Nations origin elected to the House of Commons in the June 25, 1968 general election.

Who served as a Member of Parliament for the longest period of time?

The Rt. Hon. Wilfrid Laurier was a member for 44 years and 11 months from January 22, 1874 to February 17, 1919. He also served for the longest consecutive time: 41 years and 2 1/2 months from November 28, 1877 to February 17, 1919.

Who was the first Métis elected to the House of Commons?

Angus Mckay (Marquette, Manitoba) was the first Métis elected to the House of Commons in the March 2, 1871 by-election.

Who was the youngest sitting Member of Parliament?

Pierre-Luc Dusseault was first elected in the May 2, 2011 general election at the age of 19 years and 11 months.

Who is the oldest sitting M.P. of the 41st Parliament?

Ray Boughen  was elected in the May 2, 2011 general election at the age of 74 years.

Who is the Member of Parliament who has currently served for the longest period of time?

Louis Plamondon has been Member of Parliament for more than 31 years; He was first elected in the September 4, 1984 general election.

Have there been any instances were a tie was broken by the Returning Officer?

February 22, 1887 general election:

Édouard Guilbault (Joliette, Quebec)

June 23, 1896 general election:

Nicholas F. Davin (West Assiniboia, Northwest Territories). The first count gave Davin a majority of 5 votes; a recount showed a tie and the Returning Officer cast the deciding vote.

April 8, 1963 general election:

Paul Martineau (Pontiac-Témiscamingue, Quebec)

Parliaments


What was the longest period between the dissolution of one Parliament and the opening of the next?

The 4th Parliament was dissolved May 18, 1882 and the 5th Parliament opened February 8, 1883, for a total period of 266 days.

What was the longest session in Parliament since 1867?

The 32nd Parliament, 1st Session, running from April 14, 1980 to November 30, 1983 was the longest session. It lasted 1326 days: 591 sitting days for the House of Commons and 329 sitting days for the Senate.

What was the shortest session in Parliament since 1867?

The 18th Parliament, 6th Session was only 1 day long and was held on January 25, 1940 at which date both the House of Commons and the Senate sat.

Prime Ministers


Who was the youngest Prime Minister to take office?

The Rt. Hon. Charles Joseph Clark became Prime Minister June 4, 1979 at the age of 39 years and 11 months.

What happens if a Prime Minister (or Party Leader) loses his or her seat in an election?

"... the prime ministership (premiership), like the parties, is not created by law, though it is recognized by the law. The Prime Minister is normally a Member of the House of Commons (there have been two from the Senate, from 1891 to 1892 and from 1894 to 1896). A non-Member could hold the office but would, by custom, have to get elected to a seat very soon. A Prime Minister may lose his or her seat in an election, but can remain in office as long as the party has sufficient support in the House of Commons to be able to govern, though again, he or she must, by custom, win a seat very promptly. The traditional way of arranging this is to have a Member of the party resign, thereby creating a vacancy, which gives the defeated Prime Minister the opportunity to run in a by-election. (This arrangement is also followed when the Leader of the Opposition or other party leader is not a Member.)"

(Source: How Canadians Govern Themselves)

Who was the longest serving Prime Minister?

The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King was Prime Minister for 21 years, 5 months and 1 day from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926, from September 25, 1926 to August 6, 1930 and from October 23, 1935 to November 14, 1948.

Has Canada ever had a woman as Prime Minister?

The Rt. Hon. A. Kim Campbell was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Canada on June 25, 1993, although the Hon. Ellen Louks Fairclough served as Acting Prime Minister in 1958 for 2 days.

Which Canadian Prime Minister is known to have said: "The right to vote is one of the great privileges of democratic society, for after all it is you the people, not the Gallup poll, who determine into whose hands the guidance of public affairs may best be entrusted."?

The Rt. Hon. John G. Diefenbaker, June 15, 1962.

Which Prime Minister won the most consecutive elections with a governmental majority?

The Rt. Hon. John Alexander Macdonald (Liberal Conservative) won 4 consecutive elections (September 17, 1878, June 6, 1882, February 2, 1887 and March 5, 1891) with a governmental majority.

Wilfrid Laurier (Liberal) also won 4 consecutive elections (June 23, 1896, November 11, 1900, November, 3, 1904 and October 10, 1908) with a governmental majority.

On how many occasions did a Prime Minister lose his or her seat in a general election?

The Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen, while Prime Minister from July 10, 1920 to December 28, 1921, lost his Portage la Prairie, Manitoba seat in the December 6, 1921 general election. With the defeat of the Government in the general election, Meighen resigned from office. He was however re-elected to the House of Commons in a January 26, 1922 by-election for the riding of Grenville, Ontario.

The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, while Prime Minister from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926, lost his York North, Ontario seat in the October 29, 1925 general election. King did not resign from office and was re-elected to the House of Commons in a February 15, 1926 by-election for the riding of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

The Rt. Hon. Arthur Meighen, while Prime Minister from June 29, 1926 to September 24, 1926, lost his Portage la Prairie, Manitoba seat in the September 14, 1926 general election. Following the defeat of the Government in the general election, Meighen resigned from office.

The Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, while Prime Minister from October 23, 1935 to November 14, 1948, lost his Prince Albert, Saskatchewan seat in the June 11, 1945 general election. King did not resign from office and was re-elected to the House of Commons in an August 6, 1945 by-election for the riding of Glengarry, Ontario.

The Rt. Hon. A. Kim Campbell, while Prime Minister from June 26, 1993 to November 3, 1993, lost her Vancouver-Centre, British Columbia seat in the October 25, 1993 election. With the defeat of the Government in the general election, Campbell resigned from office.

Who was the oldest Prime Minister to take office?

The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Tupper became Prime Minister May 1, 1896 at the age of 74 years and 10 months.

Who was the shortest serving Prime Minister?

The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Tupper was Prime Minister for 2 months and 8 days from May 1 to July 8, 1896.

Which Prime Minister ran in the most federal elections while serving as Prime Minister?

The Rt. Hon. Wilfrid Laurier, while serving as Prime Minister, ran and was elected in 8 federal elections between1896 and 1911.

Women


Who was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Canada?

The Rt. Hon. A. Kim Campbell was the first woman to become Prime Minister of Canada on June 25, 1993, although the Rt. Hon.. Ellen Louks Fairclough served as Acting Prime Minister in 1958 for 2 days.

Who was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons?

Miss Agnes Campbell MacPhail became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons; she was elected as a Progressive in the December 6, 1921 general election.

Who was the first woman to hold a Cabinet post?

The Rt. Hon. Ellen Louks Fairclough was the first woman to hold a Cabinet post. She was appointed Secretary of State of Canada, June 21, 1957.

When were women given the right to run as candidates in federal elections?

Women were given the right to run as candidates in federal elections in 1920. (As per An Act Respecting the Election of Members of the House of Commons and the Electoral Franchise ("Dominion Elections Act"), S.C. 1920, c. 46, s. 38, assented to on July 1, 1920.)

In the general election of December 6, 1921, 4 women ran as candidates and only one was elected: Miss Agnes Campbell MacPhail became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons; she was elected as a Progressive.

Who was the first woman named Deputy Prime Minister?

Hon. Sheila Maureen Copps was the first woman named Deputy Prime Minister on November 4, 1993.

How many women have sat in the House of Commons since 1867?

Since 1867, 315 women have been elected to the House of Commons representing various political parties: Liberal Party 132, New Democratic Party 65, Progressive Conservative Party 37, Conservative Party of Canada 38, Bloc Québécois 27, Reform Party 7, Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance 4, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation 1, Independent Conservative 1, Progressive 1, Green Party of Canada 1 and Unity 1.

Who was the first woman to give birth while sitting as a Member of Parliament?

Hon. Sheila Maureen Copps was the first to give birth while sitting as a Member of Parliament. Her daughter, Danelle Lauren, was born March 27, 1987.

When did women gain the right to vote in Canadian federal elections?

Women were granted the right to vote pursuant to An Act to confer the Electoral Franchise upon Women (S.C. 1918, c.20) passed May 23, 1918 and in effect January 1, 1919.

However, women who were British subjects and had close relatives in the armed forces could vote on behalf of their male relatives in federal elections, as per the Military Voters Act (S.C. 1917, c.34) passed on September 20, 1917.

Who was the first woman appointed Opposition House Leader?

Suzanne Tremblay was the first woman appointed Opposition House Leader on March 17, 1997.

Who was the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons?

The Rt. Hon. Jeanne Sauvé was the first woman chosen Speaker of the House of Commons on April 14, 1980. She was also the first woman to be Governor General of Canada from May 14, 1984 to January 28, 1990.

How many women candidates ran in the last general election and how many were elected?

533 women ran in the October 19, 2015, general election:

145 represented the New Democratic Party (18 elected)

135 represented the Green Party (1 elected)

105 represented the Liberal Party (50 elected)

65 represented the Conservative Party of Canada (17 elected)

21 represented the Bloc Québécois (2 elected)

21 represented the Marxist-Leninist Party (none elected)

11 ran as Independents (none elected)

7 represented the Libertarian Party of Canada (none elected)

6 represented the Strength in Democracy (none elected)

5 represented the Communist Party of Canada (none elected)

3 represented the Christian Heritage Party of Canada (none elected)

3 represented the Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada (none elected)

3 represented the Rhinoceros Party (none elected)

1 represented the Seniors Party of Canada (none elected)

1 represented the Marijuana Party (none elected)

1 was not affiliated to a recognised party (not elected)

A record of 88 women were elected to the House of Commons in this general election.