Canadians are set to go to the polls Sept. 20, but not everyone knows what they will do when they get there. The Canadian Press is following three undecided voters through the ups and downs of this election campaign to see how — and whether — they make up their minds.
DAVID ODONGI, CALGARY
David Odongi, 39, lives in Calgary with his wife and three children. He works with rental properties.
He moved to Canada from the South Sudan nearly 20 years ago but only recently started identifying himself as a Canadian.
Odongi says that in his work he sees a lot of people who are unable to make ends meet even though they have jobs.
He says he wants to hear candidates' plans for helping Canadians with the cost of living and for boosting social services, including an increase in the minimum wage.
He says he hasn't heard political parties yet talk about helping those with lower incomes and that's what will ultimately influence how he votes.
"I will make my decision as soon as a candidate, one of the federal representatives, actually says something about raising minimum wage. And not just talk about it, but walk the talk.
"We have poor people who are not able to pay rent and I see this is actually a national issue that needs to be addressed. People need to live."
Why he's undecided
Odongi says he's watching the campaigns closely but so far hasn't seen anything that will help him to decide who to cast a ballot for on Sept. 20.
He says he voted for the Liberals in the last election. His riding, Calgary Centre, was won by the Conservatives.
But he says his vote is anything but a sure bet this time around.
"I voted Liberal last time because I saw some things that (Justin) Trudeau promised and he's delivering on them. But this time around, him calling the election, it's fishy for me."
He says the last thing Canadians should have to do is vote in an election in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The government should have a plan for fixing this pandemic … but we don't see that happen. We're calling for an election instead."
However, he says the election will be crucial for Canadians.
"I don't see myself deciding easily."
LEDON WELLON, MOUNT PEARL, N.L.
Ledon Wellon normally works as a hair stylist in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital region. But the 31-year-old's doctors have told her she shouldn't be on her feet for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.
The reason for that advice is why she's keeping a close eye on the federal election this year.
Wellon has been dealing with infertility issues for the last five years. When interviewed last week on the deck of her home in Mount Pearl, about a 10-minute drive from St. John's, she was 29 weeks pregnant. The pregnancy had cost her tens of thousands of dollars in drugs and invitro fertilization treatments, and several trips to Calgary, because there is no fertility clinic operating in Newfoundland.
Through a Facebook group called Faces of Fertility she created in May 2020, and through her own efforts contacting provincial and federal politicians about the issue, Wellon has become a prominent voice for Newfoundland and Labrador families experiencing infertility.
Wellon is looking for a party or candidate that will act on fertility access. "I'd like to have it mandated that all Canadians should have equal access to fertility coverage," she said. "If I lived in Ontario, my (invitro fertilization) round would have been free. But since I live in Newfoundland, it was $30,000."
She'd also like to see something done so insurance companies have to cover infertility drugs, she said. "Because they're really expensive. They can be $10,000 a month."
But Wellon says she's not a single-issue voter. She's in favour of abortion rights, she has many friends in the LGTBQ community and she wants to vote for a party that is committed to action on climate change and demonstrates an anti-racism stance.
"I'm not going to take my needs over the human rights of other people," she said.
Why she's undecided
Wellon said she wants to see where each candidate her riding of St. John's South-Mount Pearl stands on the issues, especially access to fertility treatments, before she decides who'll get her vote.
She said she'll consider both the party and the candidate when she makes her decision.
"I really need the party to be behind a promise," she said. "But definitely, if someone is going to take the time to address the issues that I have personally, then I'm going to vote for the person."
ALEX CARRIER, MONTREAL
Alex Carrier, 36, works as a manager at video-game giant Ubisoft, which employs more than 4,500 people in Montreal.
Unlike most voters, Carrier will have the chance to vote directly for or against Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who has represented the Montreal riding of Papineau where he lives since 2008. Except for the 2006 election, when it was won by the Bloc Québécois, the riding has been held by the Liberals since 1957.
Carrier feels federal politics matter more to people outside Quebec. “I’m under the impression that, here, what governs the people is provincial politics,” he said in an interview.
COVID-19 is the most important issue for Carrier, who would like to see Ottawa work to unite Canadians to end the pandemic, including a national plan to promote vaccination.
“It's not just Quebec. The barriers between us are invisible," he said, "so I do think it's more of a federal role to play to take care of the pandemic than for the province. The province is just one piece of the puzzle."
Environmental issues are important to Carrier, who lives along a major bike route. His first federal vote, cast in his late 20s, was for the Green party, though he said he knew the candidate he voted for wouldn’t win.
Carrier said there are things he likes about Jagmeet Singh and sees the NDP leader as someone who promotes diversity.
While Carrier said protecting the French language matters, it’s not one of the most important issues for him. He said he’d like to see more effort made to unite French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians.
Why he's undecided
Provincial politics dominate the discourse in Quebec to such an extent that Carrier feels he's lacking information about the federal scene, even if the prime minister is his MP.
“It’s weird. I don't feel like I'm informed quite as much as I would like to be when it comes to Justin Trudeau and what he does,” he said.
He sees Trudeau as a status quo prime minister: “There was no grand vision. He hasn’t done anything significantly wrong, he hasn’t done anything significantly right.”
Carrier said he’s unsure whether it will be the local race or the national campaign that will make up his mind. “I have no idea how I'm going to vote," he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2021.
Bill Graveland, Jacob Serebrin and Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly reported in a subheading that Ledon Wellon lives in St. John's. In fact, she lives in Mount Pearl, N.L.