Canadians will head to the polls on Monday to elect their next prime minister, ending a contentious campaign that has been heavy on personalities and opposition attacks, and light on issues and policy.
Justin Trudeau, the sitting prime minister and leader of the Liberal Party, and Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative Party, have been polling neck and neck throughout the campaign, despite weathering scandals involving blackface and citizenship. The New Democratic Party and the Greens, smaller left-wing parties gaining in popularity, could end up as kingmakers should one of the two major parties win a minority government.
In a recent edition of Canada Letter, Ian Austen, our Canada correspondent, reported on polling data showing that voters are feeling “discouraged in the extreme.” He asked readers if they were feeling disillusioned with the campaign and whether they intended to vote.
Below are highlights from the more than 200 responses we received. They have been condensed and edited for clarity.
A lack of substance
I agree the campaign was disappointing. I did not see the leadership that is required at this stage in Canada’s evolution.
Where are the meaningful policies on how to help the prairie economies succeed in a green future? Where is a factual debate on Canada’s need for increased immigration, the associated social issues and a creative, unifying solution? Where are our leaders?
— Ben Ferrel, Victoria, British Columbia
What I wanted to hear more of from every candidate is: “I am going to take money from ‘here’ and put it ‘here.’”
All their positions have been vague and undirected.
— Belva London, Winnipeg, Manitoba
It is unfortunate that in a country of over 37 million people, the candidates we have for prime minister are all less than qualified to do the job. Justin Trudeau, who has been in the position for the last four years, receives a less-than-passing grade from me.
The others in waiting do not appear to have the qualifications needed. They all make promises that we know they cannot keep, and that is what they are running on. They do not want to address the issues facing our nation.
I guess I must resign myself to the fact that we will be stuck with one of them.
— Albert Baker, Castlegar, British Columbia
When an election campaign focuses more on which party leader is the least ethical, you know you are in for an uninspiring campaign.
When a campaign focuses on which side can fling the most sticky mud, it really takes away from any examination of which party’s vision is best for the country.
When the focus of the campaign is to demonstrate that the opposing party is filled with prevaricators, racists, misogynists or homophobes, it really makes me wonder what any of the parties actually stand for.
It is very much like none of the parties is speaking to me anymore.
— Ian Geddes, Toronto
This campaign has been disgraceful. A lot juveniles who have not matured beyond the argument of “whatever their opponent plans to do is wrong!” Leave me to judge what your opponents propose. Use what time you have to persuade me to give you my vote. Tell me what you propose to do for my benefit and for the country’s benefit.
— David French, Ajax, Ontario
I have definitely not been inspired by the election campaign, but I also have not been discouraged by it. I have been appalled by the quality and the style of the discourse that has taken on a very divisive, derisive and exaggerated tone, not unlike what we have come to expect from President Trump’s America.
— Carol Jessop, Montreal
On strategic voting
This was my first opportunity to vote in federal elections in Canada, as I became a Canadian in July 2016.
I voted early, and I voted Green. I know that by doing this I have thrown away my opportunity to influence the outcome of this election. But I didn’t do the strategic analysis this time. In this country I will vote for what I believe, and let the chips fall where they may.
— Joy Hecht, St. John’s, Newfoundland
I’m a 25-year-old woman who identifies as a first-generation Canadian, and I’m openly left-leaning on the political spectrum. Although I wouldn’t say that I’m discouraged by this year’s election, I find myself conflicted as to which party with left-wing political ideologies I should cast my vote for.
In light of the scandals that have plagued the Liberal Party over the past couple of months, I have grown slightly apathetic to its credibility as a so-called progressive party. However, I do want to vote strategically to keep the Conservatives from winning leadership.
Based on recent polling results and projections, at this point, I recognize that voting Liberal would possibly be the more strategic option in this rat race of an election that we have on our hands.
— Izabela Molendowski, Toronto
I am 60 years old, and for the first time in my adult life, I will not vote for the Conservatives. They have become infiltrated by climate change deniers. For me, climate change is the only issue. Although the Liberals’ policy response to the issue is not strong enough, it will have to do. A vote for the Greens would be my preference, but a vote for the Greens is a wasted vote, as it is effectively a vote for the Conservatives. So I will vote Liberal.
— Jim Roberts, Kincardine, Ontario
It could be worse
As Johnny Cash once sang, “cleanest dirty shirt.” That about sums up my feelings regarding this election.
But that aside, I read in the news about countries where people are killed while trying to cast their ballot. I am not happy with my preferred party leader or the entire electoral campaign, but I will vote. We have that right and that freedom.
— Loretta Hauser, Brandon, Manitoba
In past elections, things happened that have changed whom I decided to vote for, but not this time around. Does that make this campaign uninspiring? Perhaps, but Canada now has scheduled elections and news channels and the internet, so politics is always in the air and I think the actual campaign is less important than in decades past.
But I don’t need to be inspired to vote. What I don’t understand is people who don’t vote. So yes, I will vote: It is the only opportunity citizens have to impact the path of the country. And yes, I will remind everyone that people fought and died so we could keep that opportunity.
— David Wright, Kitchener, Ontario