It is illegal to eat your ballot in a federal election or by-election. Six members of the Edible Ballot Society, a protest group, were charged after the 2000 election under paragraph 167(2)(a) of the Canada Elections Act for willfully destroying a ballot; two were found not guilty for lack of evidence, and charges against the other four were stayed.
But seriously folks... A few things you might want to know...
Canadians elect only the 306 members of parliament. The prime minister and senators are appointed by the Governor General, who is appointed by the Queen.
Canadian elections are not regularly scheduled. Elections must be held at least every five years, but may be held sooner if called for.
The election must be held no less than thirty-six days from the dissolution of the current parliament. I don't know if there's a maximum limit but obviously, it's practical to have the election fairly soon after it's called for. The election now scheduled for January 23, 2006 allows for an unusually long campaign period - perhaps to allow for some leeway around the Christmas season?
In this interval, the non-partisan official in each "riding" (electoral district) must establish an office, hire clerks and registrars, update voter registration, etc. 170,000 temporary positions are filled.
And in about eight weeks the whole election is over. How cool is that?
A few more things about Canada that I find interesting:
- Canada has about the same area as the US and one-eighth the population. So, the population density in Canada is 9 people per square mile as opposed to 83/sq mi in the US.
- Life expectancy is about 3 years longer in Canada and infant mortality is lower.
- There are about 5 passenger cars for every 10 people in Canada as opposed to 8 cars per 10 people in the US.