Saturday, October 10, 2015

Why I think you should vote in the 2015 Canadian federal election

You might feel that your vote doesn't count. I assure you, it does.

Try not to focus on a party's look or reputation. See where they stand on actual issues that matter to you. If you're looking for issues to get behind, I have some suggestions. Taking action on climate change; investing in clean technology; repairing the relationship with first nations; offering benefits to those who actually need them, not the wealthy; repairing the Canada-US relationship and our global image; making government more transparent (but for real this time); closing political financial loopholes; engaging youth to vote; legalizing and regulating marijuana; more free votes in Parliament; real Senate reform that returns to the original ideal of sober second thought with less partisanship; a more relevant Question Period with relevant answers; no more omnibus bills; continued home mail delivery; gender equality in government; higher government service standards; a return of the long-form census and the invaluable data it collected; no more muzzled government scientists; affordable education.

The most important platform item I'm hoping for, is a commitment to reform the election process to end first-past-the-post. This is in my opinion, the most important and critical advancement in democracy in the recent history of Canada. The problem we have in federal politics is that if a majority government is more interested in advancing their own ideology and platform at the complete expense of everyone else, you have the potential of a 39% majority ruling the country (it happened), while ignoring the concerns of the other parties. In fact, in only 3 of the 23 elections since 1921 has a Canadian political party won a majority of seats while also being supported by a majority of voters. I think it's time to try a new method of forming government, where even the weakest voices are heard and can contribute to the discussion. I hope we choose a form of proportional representation. Some parties have opened the door to this possibility and I think it's time we walked through it.

You might be thinking of voting for a party other than the current ruling party to instigate change. There are those who suggest that the NDP and Liberals should merge in an effort to ensure the defeat of the Conservatives. Although I like what that does for our chances, I don't agree that the two left parties are similar enough to justify a merge. Also, I tend to agree with Trudeau's argument that Canadians' choices shouldn't be too homogenized, as in left versus right. As recent history has shown, although the old Progressive Conservatives merged with the Reform party, there are a lot of disagreements regarding where the "party of the right" should stand on many issues and it isn't all rainbows and unicorns.

I say vote for the party that best aligns with your values and priorities. Don't vote 'against' something, vote 'for' something. Avoid voting based on something a party or person did more than 20 years ago. Those people are long gone and the situation has evolved. Move on.

Just because you don't think a party is likely to get many votes in your riding is not a great reason to avoid voting for them. Stop listening to what others say and vote with your whole being, logic, feelings, and conscience. The worst that can happen is you elect a bad government and in 4 years, you get to boot them out.

The 40% of Canadians who did not vote in the last election, wielded the power to easily change the outcome. Incumbents rely on apathy. If you want change, you have to vote. Don't abdicate your responsibility.

I'm choosing to vote. In fact, I already have. Yesterday. I hope you vote too.

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