Monday, September 5, 2011

The Importance of Voting

We’re now into the fourth election in seven years, and already I have heard many people ask “why should I vote? What’s the point? What does it matter?” With only 59% of Canadians voting in the last election, we see that people are increasingly becoming apathetic and disconnected from politics.

Boy, do these people sadden me in the worst way.

The vote is on Monday, May 2, 2011. Advance polls are available on April 22, 23, and 25.

People died so you could vote. Thousands of Canadian soldiers have laid down their lives in the fight throughout history so you could live here freely in Canada.

You need not look far to affirm this: Egyptians and Libyans are laying down their lives because they are fed up murderous, autocratic regimes governing them without ever having a say in how their government is run. They want democracy at any cost, and they’re paying the ultimate price to ensure future generations are allowed such freedom. Past Canadians did the same for us.

This freedom is seen every day: we can drive down the streets without fear of being shot at, we don’t have to worry about land mines being planted in our front yards, and we know our government will always act in our best interests or else they won’t be voted into office again.

However with freedoms come responsibilities. It is your civic responsibility to maintain the Canadian state by voting. Your vote ensures Canada remains democratic. Your vote gives the winning candidate in your riding the mandate to go to Parliament Hill and fight on your behalf. If this person is not the person you voted for, then fine: rally your MP accordingly with letters and requests that they act on the issues you see fit to require addressing.

Is it your right to not vote? Sure, there is currently no legislation that requires you to vote (although I wish that would change). It’s also your right to not help a person bleeding to death on the side of the street, but your civic responsibility and commitment to your fellow Canadian should tell you otherwise.

Many people have also stated they don’t vote because they don’t know the issues. Find them. Part of your responsibility is to actively educate yourself to ensure you are voting for who, in your opinion, is the best choice in your riding. Don’t know where to look? Here, I’ll help you:

• Which parties are out there: This is every registered political party in Canada. Not all of them run in every riding, so check out each party’s website and see if you can vote for them in your riding.

• Vote Compass: – CBC has created this vote compass. Fill out the answers and it’ll show you which party is addressing the issues in accordance with your answers.

• Your Candidates: – Elections Canada has a plethora of information available, with everything from finding your riding to reading the identification requirements to register and vote.

• Watch the leadership debates: the leaders of the parties are key to running and organizing that party. Tune into the debates between the four (maybe five?) Canadians and see which one is best arguing for your position.

• Attend your local candidate debates: this is grassroots at its finest. While the party leaders are touring the country your local candidates are going door to door, house to house, and occasionally debating each other at the local level. Attend one of these for the same reason as above – to see which candidate resonates with you, and ask them any questions if you have them.

So, setting aside any personal partisanship, it is essential that you vote for someone. Although figuring out which political party is the best and which one would do the best for Canada is somewhat onerous, it is required and your responsibility as a Canadian citizen.

Don’t want to vote? Fine. Don’t. But I expect in exchange for not voting you spend the entire election day personally speaking to Libyans and Egyptians and telling them how useless their plight to obtain democracy is.