I never knew how patriotic I was about Canada until I lived abroad. There’s just something about defending your country to a table of Americans in Viet Nam that will do that for you. But I also never knew how fortunate I was to be from Canada until I experienced firsthand the appalling, every day realities in other countries. Across the globe I saw degrees of unfathomable poverty, civil unrest, children without a childhood, corrupt governments, starvation and generations destroyed by genocide.
Canada is having an election in three weeks and you would have to be living under a rock not to notice. The parties are all running very close this year and there’s an exciting buzz that real change is in the air. But studies have also recently shown that my demographic is the least interested in politics and that we’re the least likely to vote.
It’s really up to us to change that.
It’s really up to us to care.
Here are five reasons why you should vote in the upcoming federal election:
1. The Refugee Crisis
…and not just because of our countries current stance on it. The whole fact that the crisis is occurring is a shocking reminder that we were born into a place of privilege by even having the right to vote. The idea that one would forfeit that based on a lack of knowledge or a lack of interest is a sin against those who have to fight to have a voice. Our current stance on the crisis also needs to be seriously re-assessed. Canada once played a leading role in providing sanctuary for those fleeing from repressive regimes and earned the reputation of being international peacemakers. Allowing 10,000 refugees into our country over four years and creating racial tension with policies like Bill C-51 hardly seems to be helping.
2. Our First Nations Communities
The First Nations of Canada are the founders of our country and the way that they’ve been treated like second class citizens over the course of history cannot be undone. But going forward it can be changed, and the way that the government has been cutting funding to Aboriginal social programs, side stepping accountability for residential schools and ignoring the frightening number of missing Indigenous women is simply not acceptable.
3. Climate Change and the War on Science
Climate change started as a whisper but will end with a roar. We can no longer afford to ignore the drastically changing climate around us or the depletion of natural resources evident in our country and around the world. We can also no longer ignore the silencing of our own scientists whose discoveries are being held back from the public by red tape while their research is cut by a lack of funding. Since 2006 our government has been controlling their freedom of speech, implementing strict communications procedures that prevent scientists from speaking about and even publishing their own research. Federal scientists are required to gain upper-level bureaucratic approval before they discuss their work to journalists, which is really like trusting your flight attendant to hand in your angry customer comment form to the airline. Don’t we both know that that will never get past the gatekeeper?
4. The Anti-Terrorism Act and Amended Privacy Laws
Bill C-51 was passed not so inconspicuously through the House of Commons in March of 2015 and it’s Big Brother-esque attributes are making many Canadians nervous. The Bill gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) unprecedented access to our private, personal and travel information and allows an almost anything goes mentality in the name of National Security. Our government can now pick and choose which anti-anything groups or protestors to persecute, meaning that they could technically arrest Canadians for even the most peaceful protest. The new Bill restricts individuals from not only committing, instructing or facilitating terrorist acts (which we all appreciate) but also “advocating or promoting terrorism”, effectively compromising one of our greatest values as Canadians: the freedom of speech.
For more information about Bill C-51, visit http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/c-51-controversial-anti-terrorism-bill-is-now-law-so-what-changes-1.3108608
5. Because You Can.
If you don’t take the time to vote on the 19th and to care about the world around you; then you really can’t comment on the direction that our country takes over the next four years. I encourage you to do your research on all four parties and to use this opportunity to make an informed decision. As a Canadian, it is your responsibility to define what we believe in.
For help deciding on which policies mean the most to you, Maclean’s has created an entertaining face off machine to help you pick your team. Visit: http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/this-or-that-figure-out-your-vote-with-macleans-policy-face-off-machine/
Don’t forget to register before 6pm on October 13th and to vote on Oct. 19th Nationwide.
Interview with Stephen Harper:
Interview with Elisabeth May:
Interview with Justin Trudeau:
Interview with Tom Muclair: