This has been an epic campaign, much like Hannibal parading his elephants through the Alps – only Hannibal took less time. Even when all the ballots are in, and the winning party gets top billing on Parliament Hill, the aftereffects of the Oct. 19 voting will carry on for weeks, months – who knows how long?
Another legal challenge is ready to go against the Fair Elections Act, which many believe is anything but fair since it works against thousands of Canadians who won't be allowed to vote next month.
The Act, formerly known as Bill C-23, was adjusted to eliminate voter fraud. The Conservatives pushed it through in 2014 "to ensure everyday citizens are in charge of democracy by putting special interests on the sidelines and rule-breakers out of business," said Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre.
To accomplish that, it was decided the voter information card would not be enough to serve as proof of residency. That will make voting hard for several groups of people ranging from ex-pats to students living away from home, First Nations people, seniors, the homeless and people with disabilities. There are estimates as many as 770,000 Canadians may not be allowed to vote.
"There's a risk that on election day there could be long lines, angry voters and grounds for challenging the results in court," said Corey Hogan, director of engagement strategies with Hill+Knowlton in Calgary. "In this country you have the right to vote – not the right to vote as long as you have a driver's licence – and there's no question these ID requirements hit certain groups harder than others. "This issue is already scheduled to be in front of the courts after the election," Mr. Hogan warned. "If it is decided the government's ID restriction was unreasonable, there is no telling what could happen."
The Council of Canadians [COC] and the Canadian Federation of Students [CFS] filed an injunction with the Ontario Superior Court last year asking that voter information cards be allowed as proof of residency. The new rule was cited as a violation of Section 3 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the "right to vote in an election of the members of the House of Commons … ."
In August, the COC and the CFS lost their bid to allow people to vote under the former eligibility rules until the case could be heard. The overseeing judge, David Stinson, agreed there was a risk that some people would not be able to vote if they relied on their information card as proof of residency. That said, the judge dismissed the injunction.
"[If the Tories win] we will proceed with our court challenge – still in Ontario – on both the issues we sought an injunction for," said Maude Barlow, the COC's national chair. Her organization also wanted additional "changes to the Elections Act such as the Commissioner of Elections now reporting to the government and not Parliament."
While it's possible for an election to be scrapped and another held, no one is convinced that will happen.
"In the cases where courts have looked at rerunning elections, they have considered two factors in addition to whether an irregularity occurred: The size of the irregularity and the margin of victory," Mr. Hogan said. "If the courts open the doors, it's possible the court challenges will be done on a riding-by-riding basis. It could get ugly in a hurry."
If you didn't think this election was a tight fight before, you should now. A Friday poll showed the Liberals springing into the lead with 32.3 per cent support of the respondents followed by the NDP with 31.1 and the Tories with 28.9. Three parties separated by three percentage points – that's cutting it awfully close.
The numbers crunched by Nanos National Nightly Tracking for CTV and The Globe and Mail also showed Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and the Liberals' Justin Trudeau tied as the preferred choice to become prime minister. Both men drew 29.2 per cent. The margin of error for a survey of 1,200 people is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Putting personalized lawn signs near Mr. Harper's re-elect signs was such a cool idea, you knew it was headed for trouble. So it was for NDP candidate Matt Burgener, who is running in Mr. Harper's Calgary Heritage riding.
Mr. Burgener charged $50 a sign so people could write a message and post it close to the re-elect Mr. Harper signs. No profanity was allowed but witty responses were encouraged, such as "Let's talk about your hair" and "Soon you can cover that Nickelback album," a semi-compliment to the Conservative leader's musical abilities.
Twenty-eight of the NDP signs went missing one night. It turned out they were removed by city bylaw workers who thought they were doing the right thing. They weren't. The signs were compliant with the Canada Elections Act and were returned to Mr. Burgener and his campaign staff.