By Jack Bourassa
The government is not an alien. Elected politicians are not foreigners. No matter where they stand, they are people voted in by people. And that’s democracy. It is important to vote. It is crucial to never miss an election opportunity: Federal, Territorial, Municipal, etc. Our voices must be heard.
The Federal Election is around the corner. I want to dedicate this space to ask you to go out and vote.
Compared to the past years, it is now easier to be an educated voter than ever. Federal parties and candidates post their platforms on their websites, social media, etc. You can educate yourself on where they stand from the comfort of your home. Further, many candidates knock on doors, participate in townhalls, forums, etc. Ask them about issues that matter to you and your community. For instance, at PSAC North, our team identified top priorities that matter to people living in the North. Some of the priorities are climate action, eradicating poverty and food insecurity, Universal Pharmacare and affordable childcare for all. Never shy away from asking candidates questions about issues that are important to you, your community, region and the rest of the country.
Now that we know how to be informed voters, why do we need to vote?
Your voice makes a difference and collectively, we have a great impact locally, regionally, nationally and even globally. Never underestimate the power of your vote. Here is why you need to vote:
We’re fortunate that we have a democracy and can vote. This doesn’t exist in many parts of the world where people get arrested demanding their right to a democracy. This right is not be taken for granted. Brave women and men who came before us struggled, fought and some died so we could have the rights we have today, including the right to vote. Not voting means not appreciating their struggles. Not voting also means giving away your right and your voice.
Do you complain? The system is far from perfect. There are many Canadians who have to choose between paying for groceries and rent or prescription drugs. There are many parents who have no access to affordable childcare. There are many young and senior citizens who have no access to affordable housing. Climate change is affecting us in the North more than anywhere else. Gender pay gap still exists. The list goes on. If these issues don’t outrage us, then what would? However, we have the power to change the narrative and take action. Voting turns you from a complainer to a doer.
In 2015, the voter turnout in Federal Election was 66.1%. This is much better than 58.5% in the previous election. However, all of those who didn’t vote could have swayed the election. Among the youth (18-24), the voter turnout was 57.1%. This increased from 38.8% in 2011. There is a potential for higher voter turnout if those who didn’t vote in the past election change their mind (and heart!). Just like our population in Canada, voters are diverse. This means that they bring diverse voices and votes. Do you know someone who doesn’t want to vote? Do you know a friend or a family member who thinks that their vote wouldn’t make a different? Talk to them, spread awareness and let them know that their voice count.
Why do you need to vote? Because you don’t have any good excuse to not vote. It’s more convenient than ever. You could register online at www.elections.ca where you’ll find all the information you need. There are advance polling stations. Even if you have to work on election day, you’re entitled to three consecutive hours while polls are open to vote on election day (with the exceptions for the transport industry).
I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of voting. Don’t just do this individually, but ask your co-workers, friends, family and members of your community to do the same. Talk to people. Conversations can have miraculous effects. I want to end with a Franklin D. Roosevelt quote, replace American with Canadian: “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” The only way we will ever be deprived of the right to vote is when we don’t vote.
So please, participate, vote and be the change.
This column appeared in Yellowknifer on October 2, 2019.