Later today I will vote for the first time in Canada, and for the first time anywhere since a Glasgow by-election almost 11 years ago.
Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that voting means an awful lot to me. I’ve been fascinated by politics ever since I first listened to my parents talk about it around the family dinner table when I was a kid; I voted in every national, local, and European parliament election for which I was eligible and living in the country at the time; and it’s been difficult to spend so much time and effort learning about the politics of Canada, BC, and Vancouver without being able to participate. I became a citizen eight days after the last provincial election, so this year’s federal election is my first chance to vote in the place I’ve called home since 2002.
Choosing not to vote is incomprehensible to me. Of all the people who live and have ever lived in this planet, only a very tiny percentage have / had the right to elect their own leaders; it’s an immense privilege and a serious responsibility. So if you’re eligible, get out and VOTE!
If you think there’s no difference between the parties, well, first of all, you’re wrong. But if you still believe they’re all the same, then take a look at each party’s policy and/or track record (or each of your local candidates’ stance) on just one issue that you find important. Education, healthcare, the economy, respect for parliamentary democracy, childcare, electoral reform, science funding, the environment, the way they put the cheese on at Subway – ANYTHING that matters to you – and find out which person or party best matches your own views. Then get out and VOTE!
You’re not allowed to complain about ANYTHING for the duration of this next parliament if you don’t take part in the election, you know. 100% true fact*. So get out and VOTE!
I’ve found that my views on some issues match those of one party, and my views on other issues match those of another party. I am therefore voting (mostly) tactically in an effort to keep a third party, whose views I abhor, out of office. If you’re thinking of doing the same, check out http://www.projectdemocracy.ca/ for the latest polls in each riding. I’ve been keeping a very close eye on the site: if I’d voted in the advance polls last week I would have gone for one party, but there’s been a big national and local surge by my other possible choice of party in this last week of campaigning, and I will now be voting for them instead. This suits me just fine because they would have been my first choice if we had a saner electoral system.
Leaving the parties unnamed in the preceding paragraph was 100% deliberate (although most of my Canadian readers will know which parties I mean!); this post is not about party politics, it’s about getting as many voters out as possible, regardless of who they vote for. That way we can ensure that the parliament the nation elects today is as representative as the first-past-the-post system allows. The current minority government was the first choice of 22% of eligible voters (38% of the popular vote on a 58% voter turnout); let’s push for a massive improvement on the 58%!
For details of where to vote and what identification to bring (i.e. proof of identity and of address), see www.elections.ca.
Get out and VOTE!
*or at least it would be if I was in charge. Although actually it would be a moot point, because voting would be compulsory if I was in charge, as it is in Australia (I think). And yes, I would include a “none of the above, they’re all eejits” option on the ballot.