OTTAWA – It's on. Today, Justin Trudeau called the federal election, kicking off five and a half weeks of campaigning before Canadians vote on Oct. 21.

Who will you be voting for, and when, and where? When will the leaders vying to be prime minister debate each other? And what will CTV News be offering to keep you on top of the national election campaign?

All of those answers and more are below. Be sure to bookmark our election page for all the latest news, and video of the daily campaign events.

And, subscribe to our daily election newsletter for quick campaign rundowns each evening.

When is voting day?

The official election day is Monday, Oct. 21 across Canada. Polling places will be open for 12 hours, with the time varying, depending on what province you are in.

Who can vote?

Canadian citizens who are 18 years of age or older can vote, so long as you're are able to prove your identity and address.

If you do not have ID, an elector registered to the same polling station can vouch for you, so long as you declare your ID and address and that person has not vouched for anyone else. There is an exception in the case of long-term care facilities, where there is an ability for someone to vouch for more than one person.

You can use your voter information card as proof of address, but you'll also need additional ID, whether a utility bill, or a student ID card, or bank statement, for example.

If you have a driver's license or other government ID that has your photo, your name and current address, then you only need that one piece, but still bring your voter information card with you.

You can check to see if you are registered to vote, here.

Can I vote in advance?

Yes. There will be more advance polling stations open across Canada than in past elections, and they will operate between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. across the country on:

  • Friday, Oct. 11
  • Saturday, Oct. 12
  • Sunday, Oct. 13
  • Monday, Oct. 14

Click here to find your polling place.

You can also vote at any time during the election period by mail, or at an Elections Canada office, or at one of more than 100 university or college campus locations, using a special ballot.

If you are a Canadian living abroad, you can also vote by mail, and under recent election law changes, no longer need to prove you have been out of the country less than five years, or state your intention to return to Canada.

How do I know what riding I am in?

You can find out what riding you are in, by entering your postal code, here. There has not been a riding redistribution since the 2015 election, so if you haven't moved, it'll be the same riding as the last time you voted for your Member of Parliament.

How do I found out who the candidates in my riding are?

Click here and you can see everyone that has registered with Elections Canada to be on the ballot in your riding.

As well, CTVNews.ca is compiling a series of riding profiles, looking at the hotly-contested ridings, tight races, potentially contentious campaigns, and more. We are digging deeper into dozens of ridings, so check back for those soon.

Who are the party leaders?

Why do I vote for local representation and not the prime minister?

In Canada, we have a parliamentary democracy. There are currently 338 seats in the House of Commons, one for a representative from each of the 338 ridings. The 105 members in the Senate are appointed, and not elected.

The electoral system we follow is called first past the post (FPTP), meaning that the candidate with the most votes in each riding is elected to that seat. Generally speaking, the party who has the most elected representatives forms government, and the leader of that party becomes the prime minister. The party with the second-most elected representatives becomes the official Opposition.

In order to form a majority government, the party with the most seats needs to have more than half of the seats in the House of Commons, so in the current context: 170 seats. If no one party elects 170 MPs, then it will be a minority Parliament, with the party with the highest number of seats looking to form government. Minorities are generally more volatile as their stability relies on cross-party agreements or support to be able to advance policy.

What happens to Parliament and government during a campaign?

As soon as the election is called, the current Parliament is dissolved, meaning all business before the House and Senate gets wiped away, and the House essentially ceases to exist, meaning there won’t be a sitting, and no documents can be tabled. 

In this case, the 42nd Parliament has come to an end, and after the election the 43rd will begin. Any bills or motions that a returning member wants to advance, have to be re-introduced.

The government, and the bureaucracy in each federal department and agency enter into what's called "caretaker" mode, where the general approach is to keep the lights on and the machinery of government humming.

During this period, government decisions and announcements are restricted to routine, non-controversial, emergency or urgent matters in the public interest, easily reversible by a new government, or agreed to by the opposition parties.

Why does the prime minister have to get the Governor General's approval to call an election?

The prime minister needs to have the Governor General's approval to dissolve Parliament, because it is a royal prerogative, meaning part of her responsibility as the Queen's representative in Canada.

Traditionally the prime minister visits the GG at Rideau Hall and submits his recommendation that the election be called. Several official documents are signed, including one that authorizes the issue of election writs, and then it's off to the races.

Why is it called 'dropping the writ?'

A writ drop has become the colloquial phrasing but, in fact, no one drops anything. The more accurate phrasing would be that the writs are drawn up.

Writs are the official documents that allow what is called a "returning officer"— essentially the overseer of each riding's election—to conduct the election.

After Elections Canada receives the official election proclamation, the Chief Electoral Officer issues a writ to the returning officer in each electoral district.

When are the official debates?

For the first time, a Debates Commissioner led the efforts to organize two national leaders' debates during the election, one in French and one in English.

These debates will include Trudeau, Scheer, Singh, Blanchet, and May. Bernier has yet to demonstrate he qualifies to take part, under criteria established by the federal government. The English debate will be held on Oct. 7 and the French debate will be Oct. 10. Both are happening at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. and each will be moderated by five journalists.

We will have live coverage of the debates across CTV News platforms.

Where can I read what each party is proposing?

On CTVNews.ca we are keeping track of and analyzing each party's major promises. We also have links to each campaign's policy platforms. 

CTV National News will also be looking at specific issues during the campaign, from the viewpoint of a community to assess "what's riding" on various issues.

How do I stay on top of the polling numbers?

There's a few ways you can do that, we will have daily updates from pollster Nik Nanos. These will show the latest standings of every party in public opinion, on our main election page. 

As well, if you're into podcasts, subscribe to Trend Line, a check-in on the public mood of Canadians with Nanos and host Michael Stittle. There are new episodes three times a week during the campaign.

What is the concern about disinformation in the election?

In the lead up to the campaign, Canadian security agencies cautioned that the federal election will "very likely" be the target of foreign cyber interference, but there are also concerns about domestic disinformation with the ease of mass voter contact, among other factors.

Elections law was amended to attempt to crack down on foreign meddling and the reporting of advertising by third-party advocacy groups, though experts have said there are still gaps, including that not-sponsored social media may be used with malicious intent.

CTVNews.ca will be publishing regular "Truth Tracker" features where we fact check information being spread online. See a story or post circulating on social media that you think may be disinformation or in need of fact-checking? Let us know by sharing with us the link to the post or the source of the information. You can email us by clicking here or visit our Newsbreaker page.

CTV National News will also be regularly digging in to disinformation and the promises the leaders make.

As well, subscribe to Attention Control, a new investigative podcast from Kevin Newman that will dig into the impact of fake news, where it comes from and how it affects voters. There will be new episodes posted weekly during the campaign.

What are other Canadians hearing and seeing?

CTV News will be offering cross-platform stories and interviews with average Canadians and undecided voters across the country. These people offer up what they are seeing on their social media feeds, share how their minds are being shaped at key points over the campaign, and weigh in on how the issues that arise are playing out in their lives.

Where can I watch designated election coverage?

A few places. On our special election webpage, and nightly on CTV News Channel and CTV National News, Canada's #1 national newscast.

Specific shows to set your PVR for:

  • Power Play, a daily marquee political program, which airs on CTV News Channel weekdays from 5 to 6 p.m. ET;
  • The Vote, a fast-paced roundup of the day's top stories and sound bites from campaign, airing from 8 to 9 p.m. ET on CTV News Channel, and streamed live on Twitter; and
  • Question Period, the national political landmark and must-see for political junkies, which airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on CTV, and streamed live on Facebook.

Of course, you can also watch these shows live or on-demand on CTV News Channel, CTVNews.ca, the CTV News App and on our digital streaming platforms.

How do I get the latest election news?

Easy! Sign up to receive special election push alerts from CTVNews.ca. You will receive: 

  • breaking news alerts
  • daily polling numbers
  • links to the Truth Tracker
  • leaders' debate updates
  • exclusive content, and more.

And, to stay on top of the conversation on social media, follow these hashtags:

  • #ctvelxn
  • #elxn19
  • #elxn43