The Straight Goods
By Marlene Wells
In very short order we can expect a provincial election to be called. Are you going to vote?
It is time for a new focus on education and voter turnout. We have gotten too far away from that, especially in schools. And, well, honestly, the behaviour of some politicians doesn't exactly make one eager to vote for them.
Remember when we were kids and they taught us about algebra, Shakespeare and civics? Remember how we thought ‘Why? I am never going to use it again anyway.’ A lot of us never have thought about algebra or Shakespeare again, but mostly because we were not given the right opportunity to think about it. Civics, that’s a different story. For the younger reader, civicsis the study ofcitizenship, its rights and responsibilities. In civics classes, one of the things we learned was not only how we gained the right to vote, but why it is so important to vote.
It was mind boggling to me to hear that less than 50 per cent of the eligible voters casted their ballot in the last federal election in Canada. But in the last Nova Scotia Provincial Election the number isn’t much better. Only 58 per cent of those eligible to vote in the 2009 election did so. To give you an indication of what that means to the government that formed, of just over 714,600 eligible voters, 186,556 voted for the NDP. This in turn means that The Dexter Caucus has enjoyed a majority mandate in governing Nova Scotia for four years with just 26% of the eligible vote.
In my mind this shows a lack of respect for those who scarified their lives in order to gain this great right for us as Canadians. They left their homes and families, and gave their lives so that we can choose our representatives in a peaceful and democratic way without fighting and civil war. The system we have today did not come to us easily or accidentally. It came with a huge price tag by men and women who gave away their lives. We must respect that.
Politics is not a club that belongs to a chosen few. Even the most powerful person in Nova Scotia has only one vote. You have one vote. That makes your vote important. Everyone who is eligible to vote should vote. Voting is part of our rights and freedoms and should not be taken lightly. Take a look around the world today and you will notice that the freedoms that we so often take for granted in Canada are the very things that people around the world are dying for today. I bet the hundreds that died in Syria last week would like to have had this option.
There is no excuse for you not to vote. You should take the upcoming provincial election very seriously and give it the attention it deserves. In voting we need to have sense of awareness and understanding of the issues. It requires a basic knowledge of the process and getting familiar with issues that matter to the province. Even if only one issue matters to you, you should to be familiar with it and what each candidate stands for in order to make your decision. Your decision affects the air you breathe, the food you eat, the future of your children, the jobs you hold, and your retirement.
Want to take it one step further? Talk to your co-workers, neighbours, friends and family about politics, and about the issues. Engage in the act of citizenship by seeking answers, going to debates and discussing the contestants in the upcoming election. When you go to the polls on Election Day take another person with you who might not vote if you don’t encourage them. If every one who voted last time took one person who didn’t vote in 2009 we would have 100% voter turnout.
If you want to be a citizen, you must vote. However, if you want to be a subject then simply sit back and take what is given to you. The choice is yours, be responsible with it.
Marlene Wells is a born and bred political junky, wife and mother who calls Pictou County home. Follow Marlene on Twitter: @MarleneWells