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Item 1 of 5

  1. Although the Canadian government is structured quite differently from that of the U.S., the electoral process in Canada, also a democratic country, is similar in many ways. Canada's constitution specifies that the country must elect a new House of Commons, or lower house of parliament, at least every five years. In practice, however, elections usually occur sooner than this, and the exact date of the next election is always the subject of eager media and public speculation.

  2. Canada is currently divided into 301 electoral districts, or ridings. The voters in each riding elect one member of parliament (MP) to send to the House of Commons. Candidates for election in a riding almost always represent a political party. At this time, the House of Commons has representatives from five parties.

  3. Candidates for election generally begin their campaigns as soon as the election is called. As in the U.S., candidates go on tours, make personal appearances, participate in debates, and purchase television commercials. Competition among candidates for public attention is usually lively and often bitter. During the campaign period, meanwhile, each riding's returning officer—the person responsible for administering the vote in that riding—opens an office and begins preparing for election day.