Monday, January 26, 2009

The Election Starts...NOW!!!

This isn't about the budget, and I'm not predicting one way or another which way the vote will fall. Regardless of whether the government is defeated or not, or whether we end up with a Coalition being formed...or not. Know this, the election is on, right now, as of today's date.

Canadians last went to the polls on October 14th 2008...well most did. Tragically there were over 9.5 million Canadians who didn’t bother voting at all. Over 40% of the population didn’t think it important enough to take an hour or so out of their day for this exercise in democracy. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!!!

What was the result? Stephen Harper, with just 22% of eligible voters opting for the Conservatives, came within a whisker of garnering a majority of the seats in our House of Commons. That's right, 22%! According to Elections Canada there were 23,401,064 eligible voters in our last election, and only 5,205,334 Canadians voted for the Tories.
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I am going to suggest that it is incumbent on everyone who believes in democracy, that we not allow this to happen again. For those of us who are politically engaged, we have a responsibility to reach out and energize, to educate and to motivate all those who didn’t bother marking their X. I know there are people out there who simply don’t pay attention, or who don’t understand the system. And there are many who simply regard voting as an exercise in futility. They say things like: ”They’re all a bunch of crooks, so it doesn’t matter who gets in”.

For those of us who are passionate about democracy and the political process, we need to get in people's faces. If they don't understand the process, explain it. If someone is unsure as to what each party stands for...tell them, or point them to the information. When voting day finally comes around, call and make sure they went to the polls.

I can assure you of one thing, the Conservative Party of Canada with it's Religious Right base will be organized and energized for this campaign. Regardless of whether you support any of the Liberals, NDP or Greens, (et meme Le Bloc pour certains et certaines Québécois et Québécoise) we had better be every bit as vigilant, every bit as committed.

For those who tell you "it doesn't matter"?

Explain to them why it does matter. Our national government speaks for us whether we like it or not. What kind of nation are we and in what direction are we heading? Do we bleed the public treasury dry, reducing taxes and crippling Ottawa's ability to play an active role in ensuring Canadians are all treated fairly? Are we a nation that looks after our most vulnerable citizens, or do we prefer to leave it to individuals to fend for themselves no matter their circumstances? Where do we place our priorities? Are we more concerned about the environment, or about the economic impact of cleaning up our air, water and soil? Do you believe Canada’s military is engaged in a battle against Islamic extremism, or is it merely a pawn being used in a game to ensure access to oil and natural gas deposits?

It’s difficult, if not impossible to find a single party that addresses all of an individual’s concerns. While some may like one party’s environmental platform, they might disagree with them on economic policy or on the role of our military. Obviously as voters we have to prioritize and decide which issues are most important, and then choose the party that best represents us on the issues at the top of our list. Explain the process, discuss the issues, do everything you can to ensure that those 9.5 million don't repeat the mistake they made last October.

Personally I’m not sure which party I’ll be voting for when the next election is finally called, but I can assure you of this, it will not be for Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. And this is why the election campaign must begin now. When the writ is dropped I will broadcast which party I'm supporting, call it an endorsement if you will. I'm not so vain as to think it will have any tangible impact. But it will be a demonstration of my commitment to the democratic process and if I can convince just 10 people who might have otherwise skipped a trip to the polls...its worth it.

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