338 ridings, 40 days, 1 vote: Election kicks off today

OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will ask Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to dissolve the 42nd Parliament at 10 a.m. this morning, setting in motion Canada’s 43rd federal election campaign.

  • Watch LIVE @ 9 ET on CTVNews.ca and CTV News Channel: Lisa LaFlamme leads special coverage as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to launch the 2019 federal election campaign

It will be a 40-day race to the ballot box, with all party leaders crisscrossing the country in an effort to pitch themselves, their candidates, and their platforms to Canadians, before election day on Oct. 21.

Following the formalities of ending a Parliament and launching a federal election campaign with races in all 338 ridings, Trudeau will emerge from Rideau Hall and speak to the media.

There, he’s likely to explain why it is election time and take the first chance to frame what the vote will be about. Trudeau had a deadline of Sept. 15 to call the election under new time limit rules passed since the last election, which kicked off four years, one month, and nine days ago.

Before visiting Rideau Hall, Trudeau joined his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau in walking their three children to school.

Trudeau is then departing for Vancouver, the same city he was in for the 2015 kickoff that resulted in his historic majority victory.

The main opposition party leaders will also address the media from strategically selected locations across the country where they will respond to the election call, and offer their first real campaign messages.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will kick off his first federal election at the helm of his party from Trois-Rivieres, Que. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who is also embarking on his first campaign on the federal stage will deliver his response to the election writs being issued from London, Ont.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will speak from her home territory of Victoria, where she’s looking to make big electoral gains; Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet will mark his party’s official campaign kickoff for more seats in the province, from Quebec City. People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier is beginning the first-ever federal election for his team, from the Toronto area.

Pre-campaign summer posturing

While the official campaign will last just over five weeks, the political positioning for votes has been underway all summer long. Parties have been ramping up their war rooms, testing out partisan attack lines, and unveiling campaign ads and slogans.

With the formal launch, expect the battling for votes to ramp up, more partisan mudslinging, contenders across the country knocking on doors and debating, as well as a daily offering of new platform proposals and policy ideas for Canadians to weigh when deciding who they’ll cast their ballot for.

New elections law, spending rules

Since the 2015 campaign there have been changes to the federal elections law. From new limits on third-party and foreign participation, to new measures aimed at boosting accessibility and voter participation.

There are also new campaign spending limits. Over the election, each registered party can spend approximately $28.1 million, while individual candidates can spend on average $110,000, but it varies depending on the riding. That means — should each party run a full slate of candidates — they can spend a combined total of approximately $65 million. Third-party interest groups have a spending cap at just under $512,000.

Party standings as of dissolution

Heading into the campaign the Liberals hold 177 seats, the Conservatives have 95, the NDP hold 39, the Bloc Quebecois have 10, and the Green Party has two seats. The 42nd Parliament also had eight independents as of dissolution. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government.

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