The Importance of Being A Voter

There are lots of great things about being a young adult. And being able to vote is one of them. Well, at least on my list it is. If your voice is legally recognized, then use it!

So, the election has been called. Harper has dissolved parliament and has initiated the longest campaign in Canadian history. It’s time to go to the polls and make a decision for a new leader, come October. This is the longest election in Canadian history since 1872 (I know you’re just eager for a good, ol’ Canadian fact), implying that there will be much to watch out for and follow in the next few months. However, Canadian politics may not seem as… engaging as American politics. There aren’t many knock out punches (or bleeding orifices, as per Mr. Trump's latest statement), outrageous claims, and we don’t really ever witness representatives trailing away from the advice of their campaign managers to literally say whatever comes to mind. 

And with the first big American and Canadian candidates debate happening on the same day (last Thursday, August 6th), it may have been hard to turn away from the entertainment down south, to more routine debates up here.

But as a Canadian, there is good reason to keep the attention at home. And as this becomes one of the most anticipated and crucial elections to date, missing out on a few Presidential catfights may be worth the relatively “niceness” of Canadian controversy and dispute, even if you’ve never participated in the political world before.

As you probably know, there are four main parties competing for the ballot: the Conservatives, headed by our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, the Liberals led by Justin Trudeau, the NDP guided by Thomas Mulcair and last, but certainly not least, the Green Party with Elizabeth May. Last week they debated and, in my opinion, it was quite mediocre. Enticing, yes, but the qualities of the arguments were a little disappointing. There were some bad arguments and some bad etiquette, and especially some bad acting.  

This is the perfect place to start. Voting can be overwhelming, undermining, or one hell of a process. It depends on where you stand, and even figuring that out can be confusing. With so many policies, campaign promises and words flying back and forth between contenders, walking up to that ballot box may not even be worth it. And if this is the first election you’re able to vote in (as it is my first federal election), you may or may not have something to say. So be critical! Everyone has an opinion about something. Look for it in the news; look for it as a debate topic. If you only care about one thing, and a party leader happens to mention it negatively or positively, base your vote on just that. Your involvement this way shows passion about something in the average world of the citizen that isn’t just paying taxes, and that’s what really creates the foundation for our government.

Now let’s say you’re the opposite of opinionated. What now? Why even bother caring? Well, back to the debate. The economy, democracy, the environment and foreign policy were the four main topics discussed during last week’s debate and crucial elements of this campaign. Each party had their own points, and some came across better than others.

Trudeau and Harper clashed on income splitting, as the former aggressively stated his desire to rid the latter’s new policy and demonstrate that he is, in fact, ready (in reference to those anti-Trudeau commercials). Mulcair poorly avoided answering May’s hard and direct environmental question about his support (or lack of) for the Kinder Morgan pipeline, whereas Harper constantly tried to address the “false” facts on employment growth rates and jobs stated by Mulcair and his campaign for the middle class, with Canada’s job rate as being one of the highest out of the G7 countries. May stood up for those protesting the C-51 bill (like yours truly), arguing against the lack of transparency and broad security laws, putting Harper on the spot for the so-called “terrorist bill.” And the debate goes on.

By watching this unfold, if I knew next to nothing about these topics and the competitors, I would have hands-down voted for Elizabeth May. She was articulate, clear, and concise and cracked quite a whip when looking for answers. She proved she wasn’t just an “environmental hippie,” and broke the stereotypes surrounding the Green Party. This is someone I would love to see in the upcoming debates (as this was her first invitation since 2008, due to the undermining of her party).

Yes, it can be overwhelming, and easy to lose sight of the values and morals portrayed by the candidates. But we need to keep an eye on these debates and campaigns as time brings us closer to Election Day. With each debate, we will collect more opinions and more information about whom we think is the best fit for such an important job. We are the decision makers, the HR, and the employer. We need to be aware of what’s going on so we can question the inconsistencies we find, and grasp the passionate outlooks presented. Watching the debates is an easy way to make a decision and get involved with something we are already involved in just by being a citizen. If you have something to say, say it. Plus, by filling out the ballot, you have every right to complain about the government, and what’s better than that?