Before candidates hit the campaign trail and voters go to the polls, the government has to end all business in Parliament. Dissolution is the process of stopping parliamentary business to prepare for an election.
- The prime minister asks the governor general to dissolve Parliament.
- The governor general directs the Chief Electoral Officer to issue the writs of election. (A writ is a formal written order that tells election officers in each riding to hold an election.)
- The Chief Electoral Officer issues the writs.
- Elections Canada sends a preliminary list of voters to the returning officers. This tells them who is registered to vote in their riding.
Since May 2007, the Canada Elections Act provides for a general election to be held on a fixed date: the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the previous general election. But the Act does not prevent a general election from being called earlier or later as long as it is no later than five years after the previous election.