Exercise democracy

In the last federal election, it took 6,201 votes to elect a majority Conservative government. In that same election 9,434,184 eligible Canadian voters didn’t cast a ballot. 

To put this into perspective, if every person that didn’t vote suddenly had the urge to elect the Communist Party of Canada, we would all be wearing red right now. 

Although we justifiably mock our leaders and bemoan their insincerity, over 9 million people failed to represent themselves in a system of representative leadership. This places the onus for our politicians’ inadequacy squarely on our own shoulders.

I used to long to be an adult because it looked like they knew everything; how to do taxes, fill the tank with gas, have endless amounts of money for ice cream. But the day arrived when, although I no longer had to finish everything on my plate first, I could no longer ask my parents for money for ice cream.

In a democracy, as in growing up, along with the freedom to choose comes the duty to choose wisely or to choose at all.

A public opinion poll conducted earlier this month by Forum Research put the Conservatives and Liberals at 31 per cent each, with the NDP at 30 per cent. The possibility that any party could win will make this election more of a nail-biter than the Breaking Bad series finale. 

Harper’s controversial anti-terror legislation is sure to be a point of contention between the three parties. If Canada is currently poised at a crossroads, the pivotal decision made this fall will set our country on its chosen path. It’s essential that we actively choose it and not merely accept it. 

If the debate over the best way to prevent terrorism while protecting constitutionally-guaranteed rights (Bill C-51) doesn’t motivate you to vote, consider this: 50 per cent of post-secondary education in Ontario is publicly funded. This percentage has been declining since the 1970s when over 90 per cent was funded by the government, making post-secondary education increasingly inaccessible. 

Considering how costly our futures are already, what will it mean for our children if this trend worsens? The measure of influence that our government has over our lives should only be matched by the measure of influence we exercise over our government. 

You have a brain and an opposable thumb to hold a pen. Use them. 

Jane is the Journal’s Editorials Editor. She’s a third-year English major.

 

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