Next Monday Canadians go to the polls in yet another federal election. As a woman, especially a woman of colour, I believe I have a duty to those who came before me, who fought and were imprisoned on my behalf (see these two resources – Iron Jawed Angels and Women’s Suffrage in Canada), to get my butt down to the polling station. Exercising this right is not something I take for granted. So, this Monday I will be one of the only (and expected to be less than) 61% of Canadians who vote – see article Shades of Voter Apathy.
The theories about the reason for voter apathy abound but the only one that rings true for me is the theory that Canadians are cynical and jaded. I know that’s how I feel.
Do politicians really think they can buy my vote by making me promises that I know they can’t or have no intention of keeping? “Vote for us, we’ll lower your taxes. Vote for us, we’ll put more cops on the streets. Vote for us, we’ll get you that knee replacement in no time. Vote for us, we’ll put a chicken in every pot.” Oh please! I don’t want to hear your promises because I don’t believe you.
And don’t try to win my vote by telling me why I shouldn’t vote for the other guy. That tactic is even more insulting to me than making empty promises. Why is it that every campaign advertisement I have seen and heard is nothing more than a put down of someone else? “Don’t vote for that guy because he said blank about your mama.” I want to know why I should vote for you not why I should vote against your opponent.
You want to know what will remedy voter apathy and win my vote? It’s simple – a vision. Canada needs a leader with a vision. A vision which will engage our youth, offer security to our seniors and inspire the rest of us. A vision which will inform our economic decisions and foreign and domestic policy. A vision which will strive for solutions to repair our social safety net. A vision which will protect the human and civil right of every citizen and ensure the separation of church and state. A vision which will safeguard our natural resources and look beyond today’s profits to tomorrow’s environmental legacy.
Until we have such a vision, such a leader, Canadians will continue to vote in knee-jerk reaction against something rather than for something.