Talking about Elections and Democracy Together

Published Date

 During this COVID-19 pandemic – when governments are providing essential information, services and financial support to so many people and organizations – we are especially aware of the key role governments play in our lives. The people who are making decisions on our behalf today were chosen by Canadians in our elections. 

Some of Elections Canada’s civic education resources can help your household talk about how we can all participate in our democracy. These simple suggestions are springboards to meaningful conversations at home. 


A father and children working at the computer - Un père et ses enfants travaillant à l'ordinateur

Civic Action: Then and Now

We often see people who take civic action to make a difference as heroes, but lots of ordinary people working together can create extraordinary changes. Learn about some heroes in our two case study videos: Women and the Vote in Manitoba and Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in the Constitution.

  1. Watch the videos.
  2. Take a look at this model for civic action, which shows four different ways that citizens can take action. 
  3. Name some examples of civic action from the videos you watched.
  4. Talk about it: Have some of your family members taken civic action? What kinds of actions did they take? What were their goals? 
  5. Make a list: What issues are important to your family today? 
  6. Use the civic action model to think about actions you see all around you. These actions can be really simple. For example, physical distancing is an action you’re probably already taking.


Geography of Elections

Your family can learn more about your federal electoral community and compare it to other communities in Canada. 

  1. Find the fact sheet for your riding at Geography of Elections
  2. Read through the fact sheet together. What do you notice? What is surprising to you?
  3. Explore fact sheets from other federal ridings that you are interested in. You can find all the ridings on the 2019 federal election results map
  4. Use a comparison chart to visualize some of the similarities and differences. 

Talk about which ridings you think would be the easiest or hardest to represent as a member of Parliament.


Digital Skills for Democracy

Many of us have seen online content that we were unsure about. Have you ever shared something you thought was true, but later it turned out to be false or misleading? Has a friend or family member shared something that you weren’t sure was true? What did you do? 

Being able to identify trustworthy information is especially important when it comes to elections and democracy. As a family, you can learn to identify misinformation and disinformation online using fast and simple strategies from Elections Canada. 

  • Read the Five Digital Strategies to see some quick and simple ways to verify digital information. You can try these five strategies using an example you or your family have seen.


Voting Rights through Time

Since Canada’s Confederation in 1867, things have changed a lot – and that includes voting rights. As a family, learn together how federal voting rights have changed through time. 

Watch the short video Voting Rights through Time and discuss these questions with members of your household:

  • Who could not vote in 1867? 
  • Which members of your family do you think would not have been able to vote then?
  • How do you think voting rights could change in the future? 

To learn more, read together one or more of these historical case studies in voting rights: 

You can then discuss these questions:

  • Would any of your family members have been personally affected by this history? 
  • What facts are surprising or new to you?
  • Does getting the right to vote always mean inclusion in democracy? 


Elections by the Numbers

Active participation of citizens is key to our democracy. The most common way to participate is through voting. As a family, you can learn about voting rates for different age groups in federal elections. 

Begin by having a conversation about voting rates. 

  • Do you think there are different voting rates for different age groups? 

Next, read Youth Voting Trends as a family. 

  • How did your thinking compare to the data from Elections Canada? 
  • What could your family do to prepare future voters in your household? 

Interested in learning more? Try exploring our research pages for more in-depth data about a variety of voter groups in Canada. 


Mapping Electoral Districts

Have you ever wondered how the boundaries for electoral districts are decided? In Canada, we use a fair process that weighs many factors. 

To understand how this works, start by imagining that you are going to divide a cake between seven people at a party. Everyone hopes to get some cake. At the party, there are

  • two grandparents,
  • two adults,
  • one 3-year-old, and 
  • two teenagers. 

How would you divide the cake so everyone gets their fair share? Should everyone get the same-sized piece, or should it be divided based on each person’s age, size or other factors? 

Just like a gigantic cake, Canada is divided into 338 electoral districts. You can see the map of their distribution here. Fair distribution does not necessarily mean that all the pieces are the same size. Factors considered are the size of the population, geographic features and social factors such as culture and language. 

Watch the video Interview with an Elections Canada Geographer to understand Elections Canada’s role in the redistribution of electoral boundaries and districts. Then talk about it:

  • Was anything surprising to you about the process?

How does this process affect you, your family and your community? You can explore this interactive map to find out how the boundaries have changed in your area. 

  • Do any family members remember the last time boundaries were changed in your area? 
  • Were they aware of the change or involved in some way?


Does Voting Matter?

How much voting matters to individual Canadians can have a big impact on our democracy. 

  • Does voting matter to your family? 
  • Do any family members have a story about the first time they voted? 

Watch the videos of Marie-Claire and Marcie as they talk about why voting is important to them. 

  • How are Marie-Claire’s and Marcie’s experiences similar to or different from those of your family? 
  • What did you find surprising or compelling about their stories?
  • Do you have a family story of your own that you could make into a short video?