Politics - Federal

Citizens Who Care, Vote

By Lorne Warwick
Published May 02, 2011

While it would be presumptuous to try to predict the outcome of Monday's vote, I am heartened by what I perceive to be an awakening of the Canadian electorate. If political polls and advance voting numbers are any indication, we are demonstrating, counter to the much-discussed assertions of voter apathy, that we are listening and following this campaign like few in recent memory.

I have been convinced for some time now that if we are ever to rid ourselves of the scourge of political arrogance that has characterized our elected representatives for far too long, we have to begin by showing that we do care about our country. And the best way to do that is by turning out in huge numbers on election day. To abstain from voting is to tell our Members of Parliament to do what they will and that like sheep, we will be led wherever their whims and self-interest take us.

But I think we will prove far less docile than our leaders would like us to be, their platitudes about the importance of political engagement notwithstanding. If I am right, I think there will be a number of factors accounting for the change, including the following:

The turmoil in the Middle East, starting with Egypt's indefatigable protests that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, can have left few unaffected. The resolve, the passion, and the courage of so many people willing to risk everything, even their lives, for a principle that we have so frequently taken for granted or openly disdained, has left an indelible mark upon our collective psyche. And of course, those gyrations continue to this day in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Libya.

Rick Mercer's rant to young people, so amply and effectively disseminated through social media, is undoubtedly responsible for the rise of voter flash mobs on university campuses throughout the country. The energy, enthusiasm and passion so evident in the mob videos, I think and hope, will result in significant youth turnout at the ballot box which, in turn, will contribute to establishing a lifelong voting habit.

Then there is the dreary and relentless campaign of negativity that has characterized the Harper Conservative regime's bid for reelection. What does a strategy based upon the cultivation of fear, anger, suspicion and even hatred, along with the party's well-documented anti-democratic behaviour, tell the voter? It tells me that it is a party without vision, a party lacking the capacity to help Canada realize its great potential, a party that spurns logic and reason in favour of a demagogic manipulation of the people it purports to want to represent. In other words, a party unfit to govern.

And so as the campaign winds down and we head to the polls today, I join with all others of goodwill and hope as I reflect upon the possibilities for the country that I love.

This blog entry was originally published on Lorne Warwick's blog. It is published here, with minor edits, with permission.

Lorne Warwick is a retired high school teacher who spends his time reading, traveling, doing crosswords, volunteering, and becoming increasingly concerned about the state of democracy in Canada.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 11:23:40

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2011 at 12:22:00

...if we are ever to rid ourselves of the scourge of political arrogance that has characterized our elected representatives for far too long, we have to begin by showing that we do care about our country. And the best way to do that is by turning out in huge numbers on election day.

I disagree.

  • putting on his Mr. Naysayer outfit...bespoke edition, naturally *

Greater turnout on election days merely means greater turnout on election day. If you believe that getting people to exercise their franchise is the 'ne plus ultra' goal, then I guess this would be a stellar accomplishment. But if people aren't actually putting as much effort into who they're voting for as they do for which car they're preparing to buy or where they're vacationing next or who they're going to date next, then what really has been accomplished? (Yes, I'm against compulsory voting.)

Further, if people regard their 'civic duty' as being taken care of by voting, and don't feel either obligated of motivated to contribute anything more to the process, then is there much to be proud of, period?

Not to pick on sports fans, but if someone has a better handle on their favourite team's stats than they do about either the political process or what's going on in that arena, don't you think we're a little fuckled?

We whine and whinge about how our politicians constantly let us down, how they disappoint us at every turn, we regularly show proof that cynicism runs through our veins as surely as blood. And yet we feel more of an urge to equip ourselves with the latest electronic contrivance than actually stepping up and doing what we should be doing towards our own governance.

The 'answers' are never going to come from someone we elect, from a political party. Maybe that used to work. At some time, somewhere. But that world is gone. Never to be seen again.

It astounds me that people don't seem to grasp that in this incredibly 'me-centric' world we've created, the notion that we're each going to have to get up off our posteriors and begin constructing a better way hasn't really been acknowledged.

Not yet, anyway.

So, returning to the title of this article, I'd re-craft it as 'People who care, vote with an informed decision having been made, roll up their sleeves and participate in their own governance, rather than simply handing everything over to a representative and putting their feet up until the next election.'

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-05-02 12:25:18

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2011 at 16:15:10 in reply to Comment 62941

Greater turnout on election days merely means greater turnout on election day.

Thank you, thank you, and thank you.

The ratio of voters to non-voters changes very little. It need not change the results at all unless the new voters are making different choices than the old. Furthermore, FPP has all the same problems with 90% participation that it does with 50%, And given how little regard for popular vote results our politicians have, I really don't see "more voters" affecting their decisions. Maybe it will scare them, maybe it will encourage them.

Some of the most politically involved people I know refuse to vote. And many of the most apathetic insist on it. Voting does not equal caring.

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By that's what (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 13:33:37

Say What – let’s be clear. Stephen Harper isn’t evil – he’s crooked, plain and simple. He and his politicos breaks rule after rule, law after law and pervert the system to avoid accountability. This isn’t a matter of whether you agree with him or not – the man is simply not to be trusted.

There is little reason to debate such people, they are not interested in facts and reason. They are the trolls of our democracy (to use a term familiar to RTH users). However, you can’t just ignore them, you have to vote them out of power.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 15:19:01 in reply to Comment 62948

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 16:24:05 in reply to Comment 62959

There's different kinds of negativity though. I'd rather all politicians talked about what they were going to do, not how badly the other guy will damage us.

That being said, I'm not sure I have a problem with people pointing out illegal behaviour as a problem.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 17:08:54 in reply to Comment 62966

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 18:03:43 in reply to Comment 62968

You're right, it was incredibly biased.

"Bev Oda, did you write 'NOT' there?"

"No, I don't know who did it."

"You're sure?"

"I wouldn't lie."

Then, a few days later...

"Okay, it was me."

Damn those crazy opposition members for accusing her of lying!

Then there were the budget numbers that Harper refused to release. Again, a curse on opposition members for expecting to receive information that they are entitled to receive.

They should know to simply trust father Harper as all good conservatives do.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 18:26:11 in reply to Comment 62974

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 20:24:55 in reply to Comment 62975

Did she or did she not lie about changing the document?

It's a simple question.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 20:56:38 in reply to Comment 62977

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 04, 2011 at 21:54:52 in reply to Comment 62978

The comment that I responded to was this:

An all party panel is no more fair if its loaded with biased members determined to find guilt or one with biased members determined to find innocence. Much like the Clinton impeachment this finding is meaningless

The implication being that the contempt charge was based on politics, not facts. I simply pointed out to you the fact that Bev Oda did lie to parliament. You may find that to be "just politics", I find it despicable.

I would find it despicable whichever party performed the action. You seem to take a different tack, but that's your choice.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-05-04 21:55:35

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 04, 2011 at 22:48:56 in reply to Comment 63072

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 17:12:29 in reply to Comment 62968

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By that's what (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 16:13:56

Exhibit A - and this just came up - don't make me go to the archives!
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/canadavotes2011/story/2011/05/02/cv-election-polling-pranks-411.html

It's not about negative or positive, it's about illegal activity. You can't say with a straight face that "You're just being negative about crooks" (or can you:) - I guess that's how far relativism has come these days!

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 17:14:57 in reply to Comment 62964

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 15:18:02 in reply to Comment 62970

Someone said:
"Politicians should be limited to two terms. One in office, & one in jail."

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 17:19:11

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By just me (anonymous) | Posted May 02, 2011 at 17:36:08

What if RTH offered a signaling system, so that by and in the 3rd trolled message, the troller could select the "troll alert" signal--anything RTH thinks appropriate--there could be a contest--maybe a caricature of Dreschel, say, or a commonly accepted proctological symbol might work. This would alert the sought-after trollees [most of us] to IGNORE! IGNORE! Surely most trollers would agree to this system since they are surely proud of their space-gobbling "work" and would want to show off even more. What you all think?

Also, a friend says that bin Laden's death--killing, other like words--just last night could play to some voting good for Harper, depressingly. At least Harper was and had to be constrained in his response unless he appeared to be milking the events for advantage. Depressing also to see people cheering the killing. It's not a contest. People cheered when WWII was over; everyone was exhausted--but they were relieved when they heard Hitler was dead.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 03, 2011 at 08:44:25

I just don't understand people who live in alberta voting in support of ripping holes through the province, wasting all of their natural gas and ruining their water supply. Maybe it's about rising property values?

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By Nord Blanc (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2011 at 10:35:47

Hopefully young voters who dreamt of a soft revolution are not disheartened by last night's results.

It does seem that the youth vote is somewhat susceptible to a low-sodium perspective. Example: Based on anecdotal experience, an 18-year-old voter might judge the country's political inclination to be inherently Liberal save for a recent Tory aberration, but any Canadian 32 or older has lived under at least four Tory PMs (including - horrors! – a female leader) and through six years where Tories held Queens Park as well as Parliament.

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By Nord Blanc (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2011 at 17:43:28 in reply to Comment 63010

CORRECTION: Not "six years" but "two nine-month terms".

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By FTW (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2011 at 17:42:44

insult spam deleted

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2011 at 06:34:54

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2011 at 15:29:14

"I came, I saw, I voted, I went back in the house." (for all the good it did! :(

The more predictable the results become, the less likely people are to vote, even if they are voting for the probable winner.

"Insanity is continuing the same behavior and expecting a different result."
^Futility^ could be substituted for Insanity here.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2011 at 10:47:28 in reply to Comment 63209

"Politicians should be limited to two terms. One in office, & one in jail."

Fascinating. We entrust our 'politicians' with our well-being...and yet from the get-go assign such cynicism, such dismissiveness. On whom does this reflect most?

(And for the record, though I've been against the idea of 'term limits', I'm beginning to think there should be a limit. Of one term, period. To more ensure people actually spending their time doing their job, 'one and done'.)

The more predictable the results become, the less likely people are to vote, even if they are voting for the probable winner.

Then this pretty much proves the weak element in the formula, yes?

If an employer keeps hiring people who don't work out, who can't get the job done, who not only fail to live up to expectations but maybe even steal...then really; where does the problem lie? With the job applicants? Or with the 'employer', the one who's responsible for getting the right people in the positions on which so much is riding?

If people applied the same amount of inclination, effort and importance in choosing their public servants (and in engaging them post-election and in actually participating in the governance process) to choosing marriage partners, our divorce rate would be closer to 100%.

Seriously; the solution is right there, looking us squarely in the face. (And yes, is the size of an elephant.)

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2011 at 01:21:10 in reply to Comment 63243

"Politicians should be limited to two terms. One in office, & one in jail."
********************

Quoting MSC: "Fascinating. We entrust our 'politicians' with our well-being...and yet from the get-go assign such cynicism, such dismissiveness. On whom does this reflect most?"
************
I guess I should have put Smiley after that, huh? I heard that quote on CBC Radio & it was sent to me in an email twice within a few days of the National Erection, so I guess I'm not the only cynic in the crowd?
I agree that there should be a limit to political terms, but would not that also be 'interfering with the will of the electorate' in a very direct way?
********
********

Quoting MSC:"If an employer keeps hiring people who don't work out, who can't get the job done, who not only fail to live up to expectations but maybe even steal...then really; where does the problem lie? With the job applicants? Or with the 'employer', the one who's responsible for getting the right people in the positions on which so much is riding?
********
********
The selection process for candidates is now out of the hands of voters, & even local Party members. Often the candidate that meets with the approval of local supporters & party workers & volunteers is Not the candidate chosen by the Party to run in a given riding.(We saw that recently in the East Coast with popular candidates who did not tow the Party line on the Tory funding scandal.)

So, if you devote many years of your life to a given Party as a member, party worker,or volunteer (assuming that you never change your opinion or your support during those years...& That would be Real tunnel vision!)you still my not be chosen as a party delegate to choose your next federal leader, & candidate for Prime Minister. You still may not have any say at all in who runs as your Party's candidate in your Federal or Provincial riding either.

Grass roots politics is long gone, as is grass roots selection & vetting of platforms that candidates will present to the public. It's mostly done behind closed doors with consultants, focus groups, & important Party members. They select who will be your candidate.

So unless someone is prepared to be a Party supporter, financially, emotionally, & with a fair amount of time involved, for many years & you are prominent or lucky enough to find yourself in a position to chose a candidate locally or federally..
You really have very little input in whom or what your chosen Party will 'hire' (select as a candidate) or implement as policy or a campaign platform.

We the voters are not the 'employers' anymore. We do not directly 'hire' the persons who will carry our Party to victory or defeat. We only have an opportunity to 'fire' them at the polls, if a sufficient number of other voters feel the same way, but the actual candidate section isn't done by us, or even by a large cross section of our Party.

I find the voters innocent of all charges of being an incompetent employer, but do find many of those elected "In the Service of the People" to be found wanting & to be very poor employees indeed!

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2011 at 06:02:40 in reply to Comment 63362

Well, for starters, my main concern/passion is local governance. Where 'politics' as a sport isn't (as much) a factor. (Never mind that I have absolutely no interest in it. It actually turns my stomach.) Where changes by residents over the long-term can effect a groundswell that has knock-on effects at the provincial and federal levels. So while I appreciate the cogency of your observations, for me that area of dialogue is a little academic. However...

However, maybe it all comes down to this sentence:

We the voters are not the 'employers' anymore.

There's nothing stopping things from being changed. Nothing is written in stone. Nothing is immutable.

Unless there's sufficient inertia or disinterest or apathy to make it so.

I find a lot of discussion about our 'political environment' and all its limitations is mired in 'this is the way it is' declarations, accompanied by a shrug. Surely that's not the best we can do.

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