Get out and VOTE, CANADA!

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.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in Canada, current affairs, personal, politics, rants. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Get out and VOTE, CANADA!

  1. Dave says:

    Hey Cath – for those feeling under-informed, another great resource is the CBCs vote compass at http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/votecompass/

    It asks a few questions and places you on a map of voting preferences and then allows refinement based on what you value the most/least.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Hi Dave! I left the vote compass out on purpose; I thought it was a great idea and I took the survey, but then I read a couple of articles about it (e.g. this one) and it seems that some of the questions were poorly designed and that it miscalibrates the various parties’ positions as a result. But I guess it could be a very useful starting point!

      See you next week!

  2. ricardipus says:

    That projectdemocracy website is very slick… I like the “personalized” analysis for each riding, and the suggestion of “vote swapping” via votepair.ca, if your strategic vote doesn’t align with your party politics.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Approximately 60% of my Canadian friends have posted a link to in on Facebook in the last month! I’ve been following my riding closely, and like I said it’s helped decide my vote. I just hope the polls are somewhat accurate…

  3. Massimo says:

    I have become convinced that strategic voting is not the way to go. What we need is serious electoral reform. See this post, for instance.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      I agree 100% that electoral reform is the most important long-term goal. But first you need a parliament that will even consider it… and I think that strategic voting is a good way to work on that aim!

      • ricardipus says:

        While we’re at it, can we get rid of the toothless Governor General position, and the Senate?

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          Hell yeah. Revolution, eh?

        • I don’t mind keeping the governor general, given that their current job description could be limited to ceremonial roles, rather than enabling the conservatives to prorogue parliament ever time they have to face a difficult question.

          The senate, on the other hand, should be disbanded at the first sitting of parliament, or perhaps, dismantled slowly like the UK’s house of lords. Have them each write an essay on why they think they should keep their jobs, perhaps?

          • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

            That sounds very entertaining! Maybe we could vote them off one by one in a reality-TV style show-down. With challenges such as cooking healthy meals for a family of four for a week on a minimum-wage salary, or navigating their way from A to B using public transit. I’d watch that.

          • ricardipus says:

            I’d prefer to ditch the GG, since it was aptly demonstrated to us how toothless the position is (i.e., unable to tell the government NOT to prorogue). I recall Adrienne Clarkson’s annual budget being quite shocking – those $ could be used for something much better IMHO.

          • I don’t recall the GG’s budgets of the past, but these are all things that can be fixed without scrapping the position. Either way, I don’t feel strongly one way or the other, but I suspect if we got rid of the GG, the position would just be replaced by an office of protocol, or some other ceremonial position to allow Canada to send a representative of the country during elections.

            Still, we should decide if we want the position to be ceremonial or with some actual power, then modify the job description appropriately. You can’t tell a person their job is ceremonial, then have them making decisions upon which governments rise and fall.

          • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

            100% absolutely and totally agree with your final two sentences. It was a ridiculous position for Michaelle Jean (who I otherwise like a lot) to be in, and she made the wrong call IMNSHO.

            Tell you what: nominate me for the position, and then I’ll change the system from the inside – after I’ve enjoyed a few years of travelling all over the world and secured a cushy pension for life 🙂

            (Governor General is my dream job, but I’d settle for Lieutenant Governor of BC, if anyone’s listening)

          • Nice… I wonder how you apply?

            My resume is all polished up and ready to go, though I’m not really sure what I’d write in the cover letter.

          • ricardipus says:

            I think the cover letter needs to say something like “hey old chum, remember me from the Terribly Expensive Private School we all went to? I’m kinda unemployed at the mo’ and can you give me something fun to do? Thanks.”

            I don’t see any problem sending an existing politician to represent the country during elections. We don’t stop having a government during an election (ok, whatever, maybe we officially do, who cares?). The deputy PM would do fine.

  4. Mermaid says:

    Just to confirm, voting is compulsory in Australia. Although of course there are lots of grumbles about HAVING to vote. There are also some very good arguments about changing the system – many based on the idea that having a bunch of votes cast by people who just vote for someone who sounds familiar, or who their parents voted for (or whatever) is not really a great decision making strategy either. I guess no system is perfect.

    I agree with you about the “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain” line, and I will remind everyone that 4 years (or 3 or even 2) is a LONG time to not be able to complain!

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Do you know if they have a “none of the above” option? Or do people just spoil their ballots if they don’t like any of the parties?

  5. Beth says:

    I’m in the same boat as you – polls were showing the best way to vote to keep out the Conservative candidate in my riding was one way, but then two days ago it became too close to call, and then yesterday it had swung far enough for them to suggest the other candidate. And I didn’t vote in the advanced polls just in case that happened!

  6. chall says:

    I’m a big fan of the “blank vote” as a means of showing “I’d like to vote but none of the parties are fitting with me”. I’m not sure what it is like today in Canada, but in Sweden we removed the “blank vote” and put it in the “not correct vote ballot” pile (as they do in the EU so we changed accordingly… yes, I’m bitter about it. Yes, I think it is mixing apples and oranges. whatev.)

    I can relate to the “being intrested in politics but not eligable for voting at all” where I currently ive. I would’ve thought that I was eligable to vote on a local level alas, nothing…

    Good luck with the election today. I’m looking forward seeing how it turns out in general and what type of government you’ll end up with!!

    • ricardipus says:

      Chall – there have been campaigns in the past to “spoil your ballot” here (e.g. by checking more than one box, or scribbling all over it). I’m not sure it’s a useful exercise, though.

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        I think having separate categories for blank versus spoiled ballots would be a good idea, actually. Too bad that Sweden stopped using that system because it sounds like it might actually make a point to the parties that they need to find better candidates!

      • chall says:

        not really sure on what you mean… I meant that you had two piles; one for blank ones and one for “spoiled ones” ….

  7. This one is going to be a nail biter! I can’t wait till the results start coming in…

    I voted NDP this morning, just to make sure that the conservatives won’t have a chance in my riding, although I’d much prefer my $2 vote subsidy goes to the greens or even the liberals. I guess they’ll just have to do without it this time.

    I’m really hoping Elizabeth May kicks some 455 in her riding. It’s about time we have a green mp in parliament.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      May’s decision to focus on her own riding rather than trying to bolster the Green vote nationwide is a pretty risky strategy, IMHO. I think she’s great even if I don’t like her party’s policies on GMO research and other issues, and I wish her luck. I think it would be fantastic to have a Green MP, and of course she’d automatically be in the next leadership debate – I think it’s outrageous that she was excluded this time. However, if she doesn’t get elected, and her party’s budget takes a big hit because of fewer votes in other ridings, I think she’ll be on the receiving end of a ton of criticism and maybe a leadership challenge.

      • I agree. Like any party, the greens have some pretty out there ideas, but the balance of their platform is pretty decent. (GMO’s are to the greens what destroying the gun registry is to the conservatives.)

        On the other hand, I think she has a pretty good chance of getting elected – I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t, really. I won’t promise to eat another hat, tho – I’m still looking for a good recipe for my toque.

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          Well, I’m glad she pulled it off! And since Harper is quite likely to abolish the per-vote public subsidy of political parties anyway, the 50% reduction in the national vote might not matter.

  8. ricardipus says:

    If we *do* vote, and the party we voted for gets in, are we allowed to complain once they start screwing things up?

    Just wondering.

    Also, Anthony: do you remember this?

    I expect to see two more messages from the conservatives: They are the funders of education and science (as they’ve increased funding for both in their budget), and that the only way to guarantee that funding is to vote the conservatives back into power. If you don’t hear both of those in the next 5 weeks, I’ll eat a hat.

    One hat salad, comin’ up… 😉

    • Actually, my take on it is that the liberals came in and promised a lot more for education than the conservatives had included in the budget, so the opportunity for that particular message vanished.

      As for the science side, in hindsight, conservatives aren’t real big supporters of science in the first place, and that wouldn’t be a message that resonates well with their supporters. (In fact, it would probably cheese off some of the evangelical types who are the real conservative power base.)

      I did hear plenty of “The only way to guarantee that ….X” style messages coming from the conservatives however, where X= {we have affordable gas, we have affordable taxes, Canada stays says safe, Liberals don’t storm your house like Nazis to take your guns away, you don’t have to pay an ipod tax, etc}. So I was on the mark with the tone of the campaign, just not with the audience.

      Alright.. where’s my toque? I’ll go eat it.

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        Spoken like a true politician, Anthony! LOL! Would you like ketchup on that toque? 😉

        Ricardipus, depends on if (or rather how badly) the party misrepresented their intentions during the campaign 🙂

  9. Nina says:

    the non-complaining rule should be a law, I agree.
    I really hope all your (tactic) voting helped in getting some sensible people together. Ever since that Harper-guy came along I’ve been a bit ashamed of my Canada-passion

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      LMAO! Yes, even the right-leaning Vancouver Sun admits that Harper has been disastrous for Canada’s image abroad.

      http://www.vancouversun.com/news/canada/Canada+under+Harper+suffering+international+reputation+decline/4696100/story.html

      • Nina says:

        Indeed! Similarly: do I see less Canadians abroad, or have they all taken the maple leaf off their backpacks??! Even I didn’t mind it too much when MY maple leaf fell off my pack. And I am seriously reconsidering ever moving to Vancouver because it will perish in an earthquake and it won’t be half as good prepared as any unprepared NZ city.
        And that is all Haper’s fault of course.

        • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

          Move to Vancouver! If there’s an earthquake, we can all go and live in all the new prisons Harper is building at massive expense in a country with a declining crime rate! We can get there on the military jets he’s spending $30 billion on – if we can afford to buy engines for them!

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  11. cromercrox says:

    I heartily agree that people really should get out and vote, if they have the chance – generations of people have died (and are still dying) for that right. My mother, who was politically active in her youth, made it very clear to me from an early age that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.

    We’re having a slew of votes here in the U. of K. in a couple of days, for local council elections, as well as a referendum on voting reform – do we leave things as they are (first-past-the-post) or go for the alternative-vote system? I expect you can guess which I’ll be voting for.

    • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

      Under FPTP, a party that got just under 40% of the popular vote on a 60% turnout (i.e. 24% of eligible voters) has won a majority and can do whatever it wants for the next 4-5 years. And this is the party that brought us the first PM in Commonwealth history ever to be found in contempt of parliament, who makes and breaks rules as he sees fit… just yesterday he broke Elections Canada rules on election day campaigning, seemingly without any repurcussions.

      I absolutely can not stomach the FPTP system any longer. It just doesn’t work in a multi-party system. I hope the UK votes for AV, which I see as the first step in the right direction, although according to my parents and sister it is not looking good.

  12. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    What a crazy night… first Harper majority (great big huge unmitigated unequivocal BOOOOOOO), first NDP official opposition (YAY), first ever seat for the Greens (YAY), two party leaders lose their seats, LPC in third place for the first time in history, Bloc all but obliterated…

    I hate the overall result, but I’m very impressed by the craziness.

    And people find politics boring??!!

    I’m gonna try to forget party politics until the next election (if Harper will let us have one), and find out what I can do to help the electoral reform movement instead. In fact I just signed up as a volunteer with http://www.fairvote.ca.

    • ricardipus says:

      That was nuts, wasn’t it? And as usual the geographic boundaries of the ridings fooled me: “OMG THE NDP’s TAKEN OVER THE COUNTRY oh wait no they haven’t, they just have all the enormous ridings in the north of the provinces.”

      I’m quite stunned by the NDP takeover of Quebec, and I didn’t expect the Liberals to be so comprehensively slaughtered. Amazing.

    • Given the results of last night’s election, and Harper’s complete lack of support of the sciences, I suspect we’ll be back to the “brain drain” of the 80’s… and I’ll be leading the way.

      • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

        That’s a helluva shame, but I don’t blame you, or any of my various friends and colleagues who are saying the same thing today. (As long as you all come back to vote in the next election, of course – if Harper will let us have one).

        If the funding for my job disappears, I guess I’ll go work in a prison… or try to qualify as a fighter jet maintenance mechanic…

        • ricardipus says:

          Hm. Honestly I don’t see anything much different today than last week, which is I guess what you’re worried about. I’m not at all worried about my job though, which is also grant-funded BTW. What’s all the panic for? I’d be much more concerned with, say, an NDP government, since I have absolutely no idea what their position on science funding would be, nor how much they’d put into it in the face of their stated (and perhaps laudable) goals of supporting social programs and the like.

          If Ignatieff returns to Harvard, you can put him down as the first example of Harper-Tory-Majority induced brain drain, I guess.

          • Cath@VWXYNot? says:

            Well, I hope you’re right. Replacing Goodyear with a science minister who’s not a creationist chiropractor would be a good start, as would guaranteeing Genome Canada’s funding.

          • I don’t think anyone expects to see differences until the fall. The conservatives will continue to underfund green science and big science, continue to deny that climate change is an issue, and continue to muzzle scientists that work for the federal government.

            Meanwhile, the federal debt and deficit will likely continue to grow as the conservatives cut taxes to corporations, which don’t result in job creation, and continue to spend millions of dollars on publicizing how great they are at making the economy work.

            No, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s rather disappointing, and it probably means that underfunded science in Canada will continue to shed trained scientists to other countries.

            Same old, same old…. and people voted for this, that’s the sad part in my mind.

  13. There’s an interesting analysis on the Research Forum blog, which refers to an earlier guest post by David Ng at the Intersection (Discover blogs); I read the Intersection article in the depths of my despair yesterday 🙂

    I agree with David Ng on Goodyear, though. His answers to those evolution questions were just embarrassing for a science minister.

    • David Ng’s comments were a little on the dramatic side, though I have roughly the same opinion as him. Conservatives are not good for science… and yes, even if the minister of science is a chiropractor, he should be able to accept the scientific method and understand it’s power. The fact that he doesn’t understand evolution… well, that’s about par for the course with a government that has done it’s best to ignore evidence in pretty much all other areas of life. (eg Crime is falling = build more jails, “There is no recession” = recession, gun registry is useful in urban areas = we don’t need a long gun registry, etc ad nauseum.)

  14. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Gaah, this was supposed to be a reply to the discussion with Ricardipus and Anthony, above.

    • ricardipus says:

      It’s ok, we’re still paying attention. 😀

      Agree re: your previous comment regarding A Certain Minister and also putting Genome Canada into the budget as a persistent line item. Hasn’t happened in the last, what, 11 years, so I’m not optimistic now.

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