After a couple of weeks of letters to the editor extolling the virtues of not voting and/or the futility of bothering to show up at the polls, perhaps you will print my letter about why I vote.
I believe that we vote every day of our lives through our actions, how we spend our time, how we spend our money and the way we treat others. These municipal, provincial and federal elections are one small way that we extend on that to further influence our reality.
Having worked in the past to help change a law, I realize what is possible for any citizen, especially when you have a responsible and responsive representative in government. To anyone who believes that they live in a world where they are powerless to change anything, I would like to say that I don’t think you’ve really tried yet.
I recognize, as do many Canadians, that our system of representation is seriously flawed. Every election the Greens win about 10 per cent of the vote yet get no seats, and the NDP garner many more votes than the Bloc Quebecois but end up with far less say in federal policies. It’s possible for us to end up with a ‘majority government’ elected by a third of voters. Citizen’s coalitions have been and are working on reforming our election process so that it will be more representative.
One example was the STV (single transferable vote) system that was put out as a referendum question on a previous election but was not able to pass. Unfortunately not enough people who want to change to a more representative system came out to vote! If it had passed into law, the days of having to vote strategically for the ‘lesser of evils’ would already be over.
I will vote strategically if I feel that I have to, but I’m lucky enough to live in a riding where my first choice is also the best choice for defeating the Harper government for this seat. I get to vote against Harper policies such as a move towards unreasonable militarization and attacks on my personal freedoms such as my ability to buy herbal remedies at my local health food store, and at the same time vote for a stand-up guy like Alex Atamanenko, who I know will continue to work hard to resist these types of government actions, keep me informed of the progress, and be available to hear my concerns.
The NDP also supported the STV referendum and continue to support electoral reform. Let’s work towards a day when Canadians never need to vote strategically again!