The cure for Jaded Voter Syndrome
It’s often touted in news reports and government talking points that “Canadians don’t want an election”. Regardless of whether it’s true or not, this statement is often accepted as canon. The question then becomes: why are Canadians opposed to an election? The usual reasons have been bandied about forever: it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money; politicians are all corrupt; what happens on Parliament Hill doesn’t affect the daily lives of regular people… the list goes on.
I want to touch on one of these perceived issues: the resigned, jaded attitude many voters have towards elections. Especially with this coming election, many people don’t think much will change in the political landscape. We don’t entertain the thought of progressive political change because we’re hammered down by the first-past-the-post system, a crude approximation of fair representation. Individual votes are often cast not for a candidate we support, but for a party that “has a chance of winning”.
This is telling - more and more, voters are realising that the ballot box doesn’t do a good job of representing all Canadians. Apathy is on the rise, but apathy is not the root problem. This infection has nestled itself deeper. It’s a systemic rot that’s eating away our democracy from the inside.
It’s time for electoral reform.
I grew up in the Whitby-Oshawa riding, stronghold of the Flaherty family. Our current finance minister, Jim Flaherty, is a local celebrity in my hometown. His house, atop a hill at the corner of Manning Road and Garden Street, is enclosed by a thick hedge and surrounded by a big green lawn. A Canadian flag flies proudly above his pseudo-mansion, proclaiming the Flaherty legacy like a royal standard. Every time I pass by his house or his ivy-covered law office in downtown Whitby, I’m reminded that I’m in the minority and that my voice doesn’t count.
For this reason, I’ve never voted in my home riding. I know Flaherty will continue to win there as long as he’s in politics, so my votes are better spent elsewhere. But not everyone can pick another riding to vote in. This election season, we need to bring electoral reform to the forefront of the debate. Because every Canadian deserves to have their voice heard.
So, this election season, I’m going to be volunteering with FairVote, a citizen’s campaign for voting reform. It’s not easy to make structural changes to a centuries-old electoral system, but it’s absolutely essential to the future of Canadian democracy. This is what we need to do:
- Educate yourself. Find out for yourself why our system is broken and how other countries do democracy better.
- Sign the declaration of voter’s rights. Add your name to thousands of other Canadians that want fair representation.
- Attend meetings, town halls, and rallies. Ask the candidates tough questions and figure out where they stand on these issues.
- Discuss with peers. Get your friends interested and involved. Make it personal.
- Go to the polls. On May 2nd, make your voice heard and vote. We can’t boycott the system that we’re trying to improve.