I didn’t ask HOW you are voting, only IF you are voting. Because no matter who you vote for, what’s most important is that every single one of us get out and vote on May 2nd. The only way our democratic society works is if we all participate. And that means not only the great grey wave of boomers, whose mass demographic have been in control of so much of our lives for so long, but also all the (apparently) disenfranchised Gen Xers and the newest generation of voters still in university or just starting out in the work force. Vote, it’s both a duty and a right.
I am not an ardent follower of news or politics, despite being a Political Science/History major at UofT (that hotbed of leftist/socialist sympathizers) but I do consider it my duty as a citizen to be informed in at least a cursory way of the current political climate, the hot button topics that concern all of us and the promises that those we elect have made about how they intend to spend our tax dollars to govern us. Television news is, for the most part, a fairly worthless source of (mis)information, so I still read the newspaper pretty much every day and follow a few online news sources and OpEd writers.
And if the issues at stake in most elections remain relatively static, one interesting piece came up in yesterday’s paper. Did you know that section 329 of the Canada Elections Act states that
“No person shall transmit the result or purported result of the vote in an electoral district to the public in another electoral district before the close of all of the polling stations in that other electoral district”.
This law was deemed necessary in Canada because of the sheer size of our country, the population demographics in particular provinces and the time zones from east to west. Given that the majority of our population lives in Ontario and Quebec (something I’ll never understand . . .but that’s another topic) and they are 3 hours ahead of the West Coast, too often our votes became irrelevant as the election was decided in the East long before our polls had even closed. So to give us Lotuslanders some feeling of significance, they don’t tell us the election results in the East until after our polls close. Occasionally the Western vote is pivotal, most often, unfortunately, it remains an afterthought. The one way we can change this is to get out and vote. Just do it.
Enter the digital age with the ability for one Facebook page or twitter stream to broadcast to a huge audience the results of the Eastern voting while the Western polls are still open. And the owners of those tweets or FB pages can remain largely anonymous. Elections Canada is saying that despite this law being 75 years old and completely outdated, it remains a law and it will enforce fines of up to $25,000 for anyone convicted of transmitting election results ahead of the polls closing.
I take issue with a number of points in that statement, the first being that all laws that remain laws in Canada are, and should be, enforced. This is simply incorrect. If you have followed the current Supreme Court case involving the polygamous communities in Bountiful, BC, then like me you know that not all laws are being enforced. The laws against polygamy have not been enforced for many years as successive governments in BC have feared that they are unconstitutional. Yet it remains a law and it remains unenforced. And it is simply trite bureacraticism to say that we enforce all laws, no matter what.
I care about this debate for a number of reasons, and they are not all about free speech in the blogsphere, although I care about that passionately. For me, knowing what the election results are in the East in this election will be a strong determining factor in how I vote. Not to bare my personal sympathies in public, but being a bit of a non-conformist I usually vote for the Green Party – it’s my way of giving the one-finger salute, and maybe sending a bit of a message – to all those self-serving politicians. And who knows, one day we may even elect a Green candidate. Now that would be a reason to celebrate. Interestingly, North Vancouver has a history of a strong Green vote – not something I would have predicted – but it seems there are a lot of us non-conformists hiding in the North Shore mountains. Nice!
In this election the only determining factor in who I vote for is who has the best chance of dislodging Stephen Harper from his roost. I am so strongly opposed to that man, his party, his philosophy and “iron fist” style of governing that I’d vote for anyone that will boot his prissy ass right off Parliament Hill. My vote is not going to be pro-anyone, it’s going to be anti-Harper. So for me it’s all about figuring out which other party has the best chance of forming a government. Sadly it won’t be my beloved Greens, and I’d assumed it would be Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals, but recent polls have put them behind Jack Layton and the NDP. So now I have a quandry. Which way do I jump? Liberal or NDP? Knowing before I go to vote which other party is leading in the East will determine for me who I vote for in North Vancouver.
Jeremy Berry, the public relations professor at Mount Royal University who was quoted in the Vancouver Sun today saying
“What damaging content could an armchair critic tweet out that would be so devastating that Elections Canada would go after them? I can’t see something like that”.
Imagine, Mr. Berry, if every single voter in the West decided, like me, to wait and see how the Eastern results were shaping up and then cast their vote accordingly. I’d say that would have a very significant impact. But I’m only one person, with one vote. Some of you might think your vote is irrelevant, that you can’t change anything. Well, if you don’t vote it is irrelevant and you will never change anything. I prefer to believe that if enough people care enough, we can effect change.
GET OUT AND VOTE!
Here’s a particularly relevant video from my favourite, and always political band, Bad Religion. 21st Century Digital Boy, he doesn’t know how to read but he’s got a lot of toys. I love that Dr. Gaffen cares so much.