By Loraine Debnam
Campaigning is in full swing for the federal election on October 21st. Thank you to all those who have let their name stand for public office. It’s often a thankless job and sometimes even worse than that.
Will you vote? I hope so. I remember how excited I was when I reached the “age of majority” and was finally able to voice my opinion by marking a ballot. Voting is such a privilege, I wonder at the apathy which sees only forty or fifty per cent of eligible voters turn out at the polls. Considering what’s happening on the global front, we should be demonstrating even more dedication to the process. There are so many people all over the world who will never have the opportunity to live in a democracy and actually be able to have a say in the way they are governed. I think that ducking out of one’s civic duty weakens our democracy.
There are lots of excuses as to why someone might not vote and I have heard them all. Being happy with the status quo is one of them – “things are OK, why do we need a change?” Great, if that’s your response then vote for the incumbent, obviously they have been doing a good job for their constituents. Your not voting will not help them get re-elected so they can continue to serve. Lower voter turn-out is certainly not viewed as a vote of confidence. On the other hand, if you have no faith in those who are presently in government, complaining that they are all “dishonest and out for their own personal gain”, then use your ballot as a chance to make a change and remove their power and influence.
Another common excuse I hear is “all politicians are the same – they don’t care about the little guy”. Well, that is just not accurate. If you read any of the campaign material, the differences are clear. All the candidates, both incumbents and challengers have their own beliefs and opinions on serious issues such as the economy, the environment, taxes and land use. It is our responsibility to find out what their positions are and ask questions about their views and long range aspirations. Each time we vote (or don’t) we put them in charge for a four year term. Do you feel good about giving someone four years of your life without knowing who they are or what they stand for?
“I’m too busy to vote.” This one should not even be addressed. The polls are open for twelve hours on Election Day. Somewhere in that time you should be able to find a few minutes and if you can’t, there are advance polls set up in order to accommodate your schedule.
Remembrance Day is coming up, a day when we honor those men and women who fought and died to win and preserve our freedoms (including being able to vote). Wearing a poppy is not enough.
It’s part of our obligation to them to be grateful for the privilege of voting and vigilant about exercising it.