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Canadians heading to the polls to choose next federal government


All of Canada’s major party leaders have cast their ballots in the country’s first pandemic election, which culminates today as Canadians from coast to coast go to the polls.

Elections Canada says almost 6.8 million people voted early, most of them at advanced polls over a week ago, and the rest through special ballots cast by mail or at Elections Canada offices.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his wife Rebecca arrived Monday morning at a voting station in Bowmanville, Ont., in his riding of Durham, to cast their votes.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau cast his ballot in his riding of Papineau, Que., with his three children at his side.

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Other leaders voted in advance of election day, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh who voted in an advanced poll in Burnaby and Green Party Leader Annamie Paul, who voted by mail.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet also voted in advance, but spoke in Drummondville, Que., Monday morning to encourage his supporters to visit their polling stations.

“This is democracy. People send to the Parliament the people they believe will represent them the best,” Blanchet said Monday. “Whatever Canada wants as the ballot question, it’s their business. But I believe Quebec has a right to be different.”

Elections Canada encouraged voters to wear masks but only required them in places where they were mandated by provincial rules. Proof-of-vaccination regulations do not apply at polling stations in any province where they currently exist.

Polling stations are open for 12 hours, but the opening times vary by region, starting as early as 7 a.m. PST in British Columbia and as late as 9:30 a.m. EDT in Ontario and most of Quebec.

Most riding winners will be known by the end of the evening, but Elections Canada is also warning it could take up to four days to finish counting all the special ballots, meaning some close races may not have official winners for several days.