Be a Voter, BE A VOTER.

Ohhh Canada. Canada-ians. OH CANADIANS.

Federal election day is looming, October 21, 2019. If today is the 10th, then that’s… *counts on fingers* …only eleven days away.

Be an informed voter.

Give a shit. About what’s going on in our country, what’s going to effect all of us, who we are choosing to lead us for the next 4 years. What direction do you want to be led in?

There are a lot of reasons for low voter turn out, and from my very scientific research that includes such stringent methodology as reading people’s opinions online and browsing random blogs and articles, I feel qualified to note a few reasons for this voter apathy.

ONE.

Shite candidates.

Sometimes it feels like you’re choosing not the best, but the least worst.

So you’re house shopping, and there are only 4 homes available. Period. If you don’t choose one, someone else will choose for you. Each of these homes has at least a few of the features you’re looking for in a home, but none of them have more than 50% of what you’re hoping for.

House number 1 is quaint and cute with a big yard, but directly downwind from a pig farm. Every time the wind turns in your direction, you basically feel like you’ve packed your sinuses with pig crap. It is so strong you can almost taste it. It’s wholly unpleasant.

House number 2 is spacious and trendy looking, but right alongside the train tracks. You need to get used to loud rumbling at all hours of the day and night, your house shakes, sometimes loud horns blare, and you probably don’t want to put anything delicate on the walls.

House number 3 is a well maintained farm house, but is on well water, and the surrounding land is overfilled with minerals. When you run your tap, it smells like like a rotten egg fart. The water is drinkable, but foul, and it stains your sinks and tub.

House number 4 is nice and new, but is part of a HOA. Your dues are high, you can’t decorate the way you want, and you get fined over things like your grass being 5 cm too long. The rules are strict, the enforcement is heavy, and you have someone breathing down your neck constantly.

Some people would be able to choose one they could live with, where because of their personal tastes/needs, the good would far outweigh the bad.

But some people wouldn’t want to choose any of them. And since they’re all equally awful, they’d go with whatever was chosen for them.

Those are the non-voters who feel that there isn’t a good candidate and they can’t bring themselves to choose from the bad, so they just go with whatever the majority chooses.

TWO.

Unequal representation.

Unless there’s a huge divide in Quebec and Ontario, the election is decided before votes from Alberta and BC are even counted.

For many of us in the west, we feel less as if we get a federal vote and more as if we simply get to vote for our local MP. This is what happened the last election. Pro: I got to go to bed earlier knowing the election outcome, but, con: I felt my vote counted for nothing.

The Canadian federal election is a first-past-the-post system allows us to vote for the MP in our local riding, not to vote for the Prime Minister. There are 338 MP seats in the House of Commons. A party needs to win 170 seats for a majority government. Quebec and Ontario are allocated a total of 199 seats. The election can be easily decided by those two provinces alone, and because votes are counted east to west due to time zones, often our elections are won long before our votes in BC are counted.

This is a huge frustration for me personally. It doesn’t stop me from voting, but it has sometimes made me wonder what the point is.

THREE.

Lack of engagement.

Another one that I’ve personally felt, candidates are out of touch and don’t address issues that matter to me, or to countless other “younger” voters. And I’m not even that young. Depending on who defines the years, I’m either a very old millenial, a very young gen x, or funny enough – there’s a tiny bracket that I’m in the middle of called “xennials”. I’m sort of floating around there, in limbo, between two generations.

So while I can’t claim to know what kids these days care about, I know what I care about – and it’s a lot less about tax breaks and a lot more about social issues, the dwindling middle class, the overwhelming homelessness, poverty, child poverty, food waste, food instability, addiction issues, my kids’ schools, post-secondary costs, our medical system, the environment.

I very much dislike advertisements that do nothing at all but trash other candidates. There’s nothing remotely productive about that. Don’t tell me what he’s doing wrong, tell me what you’ll do right. If all you can do is try to smear the other guy, it gives me the sense that you barely have a leg to stand on and your platform can’t hold up on its own merits. Am I in the minority here? Because from my observations, people really do like to mud-sling. Right now, counting down to election day, I’m seeing a lot less posts in support of a candidate and a lot more just trashing one party/candidate or another. It circles back to the whole “choosing the least worst” issue. When you’ve convinced people not to vote for everyone else, you’re all that’s left, right?

There was a question on one one our local news pages on whether or not voting should be mandatory. On its surface it sounds so logical, right, that’s the democratic process – you have the right to vote, so you should vote.

I disagree. If you care so little that you’ve not educated yourself on the issues, the candidates, or the platforms – please, please stay home. It’s no better than spin the bottle, and I really don’t want to see our elected officials in office solely because a bunch of people who didn’t care ticked a random box.

Voting is a right, not an obligation.

I’ve voted in pretty much every election there’s been since I was eligible to vote. The only times I haven’t have been when I really did not pay attention, for one reason or another, and had no educated opinion.

In my 20 year voting career, I’ve nearly always been advised to vote strategically. We have complicated the process to this degree. We look at candidates that we might actually like, and then say “I don’t think he has a chance though.”

I have very rarely vocally, publicly supported candidates, because I’ve often felt that I was choosing the “least worst.” I haven’t wanted to have the conversations about why I’m choosing this party or that. I don’t toe a party line, I don’t belong to a party, I vote for the candidate.

The Liberals are currently spouting “A vote for the NDP is a vote for the Conservatives.” They believe, or rather, want us to believe that a third party vote will splinter the results to the point where the Conservatives gain a minority government. Because, again, they expect that when people don’t want to vote for the Conservatives, the Liberals are what’s left to vote for. They hope to scoop up the votes of the people who don’t like Scheer, even if those people don’t much like Trudeau either.

I don’t like every part of the NDP platform. I don’t feel they have a good track record provincially. Had anyone told me 5 years ago that I would ever vote NDP, I would have laughed in their faces.

I’m voting NDP in this election.

Why? Because I genuinely like their candidate. Jagmeet Singh has always shown grace and honesty. He strikes me as a sincerely good person.

Five campaign promises:

All of these things matter to me. Whether they effect me personally or not, these are issues that I feel are ultra-important. Of course, we never know whether a candidate will deliver or not, but I do believe that Singh will try, because I admire his character. I believe he is honest, and I believe that he will do his best.

I like his answers to tough questions. I like his overall sense of dignity and ethics. I love that when he was asked if he would be “writing a blank cheque” for clean water in Indigenous communities across the country, he responded with “Would be asking this question if Toronto had a drinking water problem? If Montreal had a drinking water problem? Would you be asking this question if Vancouver didn’t have clean drinking water? Would you be asking this question if Edmonton didn’t have clean drinking water? No.”

Jagmeet Singh is a Canadian born Sikh. For the ignorant racists and bigots around, no he is not Muslim just because he’s brown and wears a turban. No, he will not bring Sharia law to Canada. No, he is not a terrorist. PS – Islam and Sikhism are religions, not races. He is a lawyer who grew up in adversity and has still managed to rise up and be gracious and kind. He cares about the issues that matter to me because he has struggled too. I have never seen him become angry, spiteful or rude – even in the face of harsh criticism and insults.

Honestly, sincerely… that is who I want leading this country.

It could very well be that I’m just naive. That you can’t ever trust a politician. I could be completely wrong. But, this is my gut feeling, and I’m going with it.

This is the last point I want to make. If every person who felt they needed to vote strategically, if every person who liked Singh but felt he had no chance, if all of those people who vote Conservative because they feel it’s the only viable option… if all of those people voted their conscience instead of being afraid that they’ll just split the votes, I think the NDP could stand a chance.

OBVIOUSLY.

I’m tired of voting strategically. I’m tired of overcomplicating things. I’m done.

I’m voting for the candidate I believe is the best.

I hope that others will too.

That’s what democracy is supposed to be about. And I don’t care if you don’t agree with me, whether you go for Singh or Scheer or Trudeau or other. Vote for the candidate that you feel is best and stop worrying about what everyone else will do. Elections shouldn’t be a minefield of paranoia. They should be about selecting a leader who best aligns with your values, and who you believe will deliver.

Be a voter. Be an informed voter. And please, stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, stop buying into the fear-mongering, stop listening to the trash talk and the mud-slinging.

It matters.

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