In a few weeks, Canadians will head to the polls to vote on who will represent us in Ottawa.
Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about how I will be making my decision regarding which box I check on Oct. 21 and encourage you to think about how you’re making that choice, as well.
First off, let’s make sure you’re registered.
If you’re going to be at least 18 years old by Oct. 21, a Canadian citizen and can prove your identity and home address, you are eligible to cast a ballot next month. If these factors are all in place, but you haven’t received anything in the mail confirming that you are a registered voter, you should head online to www.elections.ca and find out, or call 1-800-463-6868.
Now that we know you’re registered, let’s talk about how you can make a decision. Or whether or not you should bother.
Because, let’s face it, there is a lot of political apathy out there, and for good reason. The cost of living continues to increase far faster than people’s incomes, no matter who is in charge in Ottawa. Also, every government makes decisions you don’t agree with – whether you align with their party’s political ideologies or not – and has spent your money in ways you don’t approve of, which is frustrating.
But you should bother. And here’s why. Because Ottawa is where a whole lot of decisions are made that affect your life, whether you like that fact or not. We all pay a lot of money to the federal government and let them spend it on things they think will improve the world we live in.
Shouldn’t you at least exercise your right to help decide who is doing that thinking?
Which brings me to my main point of this column: You don’t get to vote for Prime Minister.
I see a whole lot of talk online about how “I sure won’t be voting for Trudeau,” or “I could never vote for Andrew Scheer.”
Of course you won’t be voting for Trudeau. You don’t live in Montreal’s Papineau riding, where you could actually vote for him. And you couldn’t vote for Andrew Scheer even if you wanted to, because you also don’t live in Regina’s Qu’Appelle riding.
You didn’t vote for Justin Trudeau last time, either. Nor did you vote for Stephen Harper, Tom Mulcair or Elizabeth May. Let me say this again: You don’t get to vote for Prime Minister. If you live in the North Island, you get to pick between Rachel Blaney, Peter Schwarzhoff, Shelley Downey, Mark de Bruijn and Brian Rundle this time around.
Having said that, each of the candidates you CAN vote for has aligned themselves with a particular party. So let’s find out which of those parties’ values YOU align with, if you don’t already know. Head online to canada.isidewith.com and take that quiz. It’s got a ton of specific questions on things from social, economic, environmental, healthcare and education issues and you can both answer the questions and rank how important that particular interest is to you.
Now that you know which parties your ideals are most closely associated with, go talk with the people running for election who represent those parties and pick the person you feel would best represent our region – and your values – in Ottawa.
My theory has always been that since I don’t get to vote for Prime Minister, I should vote for who I want speaking on my behalf when decisions are being made around whoever that person ends up being. But however you decide to make your decision, just make sure it’s heard by taking a few minutes on Oct. 21 to go mark your box.
Because it’s important.