The Undecideds: Three Canadian voters still unsure who to support, two weeks in

·6 min read

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.

ALEX CARRIER, MONTREAL

Two weeks into the federal election campaign, Montreal resident Alex Carrier said he's closer to deciding who he's going to vote for, after ruling out some parties, but he's not there yet.

"I didn't make my decision yet. I'm still searching, doing a bit of soul searching as the election draws to a close," he said.

What he'd like to be different

Carrier, 36, who works as a manager at a video-game company, said that with a shorter than usual campaign, there's a lot of information coming quickly and it can be hard to get a grasp of how those pieces fit together as part of a larger platform.

"It seems like it's a very compressed campaign. It's like campaign express," he said.

Carrier said he'd have preferred a longer campaign and he thinks the parties could be doing a better job of making their entire platforms accessible to voters.

Where he stands now

Carrier said he's ruled out voting for the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois.

The environment is an important issue for Carrier and he doesn't believe Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, who represents the Papineau riding where Carrier lives, has kept his promises around climate change.

Carrier said he's also still unsure why exactly Trudeau wants a majority government.

As for Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole's campaign, Carrier said it's been too focused on the economy. He worries that will mean other issues, like the environment, will be neglected.

Carrier said he doesn't like the fact that his local Bloc Québécois candidate, Nabila Ben Youssef, has been a vocal supporter of a Quebec law, known as Bill 21, that bans the wearing of religious symbols by some public servants.

The NDP has attracted Carrier's interest with its promise to tax corporations that made record profits during the pandemic, and its plan to increase taxes on the wealthy.

"We should be able to tax those that really made a huge profit off of the pandemic. That's an excellent recovery plan," he said.

He said he also likes his local NDP candidate, Christine Paré.

Carrier said he's also considering voting for the Green Party, because he likes the party's stance on climate change, however he said he'd like to see more detailed proposals.

While Carrier would like to see more Greens in parliament, he also worries that he would be wasting his vote.

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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 now prefers to only be identified as a Canadian citizen.

Odongi has voted for the federal Liberal party in the past, including in 2019. He says Justin Trudeau seemed to be getting the job done but had been upset that the Liberal leader called an election during a pandemic.

Following Liberal announcements on climate change and requiring half the cars sold in Canada to be zero-emission by 2030, however, he appears to be softening his view.

"The Liberal party (has) been outright about its action plans for the future of Canada and Canadians," said Odongi.

"Kinda justifies why the party called for an early election."

What he'd like to be different

Odongi says he is still hoping to hear more from the candidates on how they will help Canadians with the cost of living and boost social service programs. He would also like to see an increase to the minimum wage.

He also wants more answers from the three parties instead of personal attacks.

"The NDP, the Conservatives, and other parties need to speak more on why they should be the next choice instead of attacking the Liberal party leader," Odongi said.

"In Alberta, the UCP is consistently targeting AHS (Alberta Health Services) for cuts and that puts Albertans in danger as access to health care is becoming less easy," he added.

"It’s important for the national Conservative leader to emphasize how different he will be from (Alberta Premier) Jason Kenney."

Where he stands now

Odongi lives in Calgary Centre, which along with all other ridings in the city, went Conservative in 2019.

"It’s not easy to make that decision when we haven’t heard tangible or realistic plans from the opposition parties," he said.

"So, no, I haven't come to a decision."

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LEDON WELLON, MOUNT PEARL, N.L.

Ledon Wellon says she's been keeping a close eye on the federal election, mostly from her bed or from a comfy chair in her home on a residential street near Newfoundland and Labrador's capital.

The 31-year-old is on bed rest as she navigates the third trimester of a high-risk pregnancy after years of infertility struggles.

She said so far, the NDP's promise of universal pharmacare has really stood out to her, especially after paying for all those infertility drugs.

"I've spent so much on medications in the last few years that haven't been covered by insurance," Wellon said. "So if they were covered by national pharmacare, that would definitely benefit my family a lot."

Drug coverage aside, Wellon said the party also aligns closely with her own values and goals, "like trying to end racism, and to make things more equal for minorities and the LGTBQ community."

What she'd like to be different

When she's not on bed rest, Wellon works as a hairstylist and lives in Mount Pearl, a sister city to the provincial capital of St. John's. Her struggles with infertility — and her openness about them — have turned her into an advocate for others in the province who need medical help to conceive. She's lobbied the provincial government for change, and now she's choosing carefully who'll get her vote in her riding of St. John’s South-Mount Pearl.

Watching the federal election news isn't always pleasant or inspiring, Wellon noted. The political mudslinging is exhausting, she said, and she worries it will turn people away from engaging with politics.

"Pretty much every channel is just like, hate on Trudeau, hate on this person," she said. "That just seems like really, really expensive bullying instead of like, 'This is how we're going to help you.' … I don't want to vote for someone who's just bashing everybody else all the time."

Where she stands now

Wellon still hasn't yet made up her mind entirely about who'll she vote for on Sept. 20.

She said she'll be tuned in the next few weeks as the campaigns prepare for debates and make their final pleas for votes.

"I just applied for my mail-in ballot," she said. "I'll definitely be keeping up with all the promises."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2021.

Jacob Serebrin, Bill Graveland and Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

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