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Election trivia from Canadian history Add to ...

Some election trivia as Canada heads into its 41st federal election campaign:

Autumn is the top season for elections in Canada, with 14 fall votes. There have been 12 held in summer, nine in the spring and only five winter campaigns.

The highest turnout recorded in a federal election was March 31, 1958, when 79.4 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots. Turnout in the most recent election, in October, 2008, was 58.8 per cent. But the lowest turnout ever was recorded in June, 1882, when only 32 per cent voted.

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The voter's list has expanded considerably since Confederation. The first federal election, in 1867, had 361,028 eligible voters. At the time, women didn't have a vote. In 2008, there were 23,677,639 people on the voting rolls. Women won a limited franchise in 1917 – they could vote if they had close relatives in the military. They won full voting rights in 1918.

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Since Confederation, three ridings have each elected two prime ministers. R.B. Bennett was MP for Calgary West. Stephen Harper was first elected there and now has the riding of Calgary Southwest, which takes in portions of the older constituency. Mackenzie King and John Diefenbaker both represented the riding of Prince Albert. And Wilfrid Laurier and Louis St. Laurent both sat for Quebec East.

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Mackenzie King at various times represented five different ridings in three provinces. Before becoming prime minister, he sat for York North in Ontario and Prince in Prince Edward Island. As prime minister, he twice lost his seat and had to scramble to win a by-election. When he lost in York North in 1925 he ran and won in Prince Albert. When he lost that seat in 1945, he ran and won in Glengarry in Ontario in 1946.

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Quebec has produced the most prime ministers, with seven: Sir John Abbott, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Louis St. Laurent, Pierre Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland have not elected a prime minister, although Mackenzie King held a PEI riding before becoming PM.

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Election laws once allowed people to run in more than one riding. In 1878, Sir John A. Macdonald, perhaps sensing a political problem in his home constituency of Kingston, Ont., ran there and in Marquette in Manitoba and in Victoria. He lost in Kingston, was acclaimed in Marquette and won Victoria. He resigned the Manitoba seat and held Victoria. He was later re-elected in Kingston.

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The election of Jan. 22, 1874, was the first to feature a secret ballot. It was also the country's first one-day election. In previous elections, voting was stretched over several weeks. The 1874 voting produced the country's first Liberal government, under Alexander Mackenzie.

 

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