So as you should (but may not) be aware of, Canada is holding elections this June. It’s an exciting time to be able to vote. For the first time since I was old enough to vote, the outcome seems less than certain. The Right’s vote is no longer split, and could conceivably win, although it’s more likely that they’ll simply increase in seats. The Bloc seems to have renewed vigour, thanks in large part to apparent (though perhaps not actual) mis-management of Quebec by Liberals at both the provincial and Federal levels. The NDP have a dynamic, TV-friendly and most importantly, urban leader for the first time in a decade. Even the Green Party is showing signs of at least marginal relevance. Were they to steal a seat in this election, it wouldn’t bowl me over.
There’s lots of talk right now about poor voter turn out, and how this turn out has been diminshing for ages. Well, that’s not surprising. Look back at the last, oh, 15 years. The Liberals were never really in doubt of winning handily. They rode to power on a backlash against the PCs, thrived as the right fractured and split as a result, and coasted to yet another victory as the Right continued to explode. But that’s no longer the case. The newly-rejoined Conservative party (the loss of ‘progressive’ from that title should not be ignored) has had time to gear up and clean house. Meanwhile, the Liberals are terribly fractured as result of their recent leadership battle, and internal divisions are still apparent, even as their election machine gears up. So what does this mean? For the first time, for a whole generation of voters, their vote can and will make a noticeable difference. It’s not surprising that most people young people don’t vote — there’s never been a need to. We weren’t populous enough to make a difference, with all of our parents voting Liberal.
This election is different. Unfortunately, however, I believe that we’ve lost an entire generation of voters. Worse still, many older politicians don’t care: Look at the issues. These can all be seen as ‘boomer’ issues. Noticeably, amongst the Liberals 5-in-5 wait-list reduction plan are joint-replacements & eyesight — both ailments that affect primarily the elderly. It marks an abject failure of Canada’s youth that the atrocious state of education and transportation, both issues that tend to affect youth more are barely making a blip on this election. And look at the candidates — While I’ve certainly not made an exhaustive survey, there seems to be very few ‘first timers’, or young candidates running in this election, outside of the NDP or BQ
I’d imagine that virtually everyone who reads this site is considered a ‘youth’ politically. So we’re all under-represented, under-counted in elections. But let’s change this. Make your voice heard. If you’ve got a blog, write about the issues that matter to you, to get other people thinking about the issues. If you’ve got time, volunteer, support your party of choice. If you’ve no opinion, get informed. Ignorance is not an excuse. It has never been easier to get informed about the various parties’ platforms. Most MLAs have sites, if not blogs, and all will either answer mail themselves or will have people answering your questions for them. Don’t know who you’d support? Email all your local candidates the same 5 questions — and then judge their answers. Chances are, you’ll find out which way you lean pretty quickly. If you can’t agree with any of the major parties, look elsewhere. There are numerous other parties who would love your vote.
The only wasted vote is the vote not cast.