Why Your Vote Matters More Than Ever in the Canadian Election

by August 28, 2015
filed under Activism

"Fuck Harper"On August 2, the day before my birthday, Stephen Harper dropped the writ: There would be 78 days until the federal election on October 19.

The call was early, but not entirely unexpected. Harper and his Conservatives have come under a lot of fire for a number of different things, and a number of my political pundit friends expected him to start pulling as many punches as he could muster.

Many ridings haven’t elected all of their candidates yet. Some of the nomination meetings weren’t even scheduled until August. A few ridings are pushing up their election days so they can at least get to work campaigning.

Besides the scramble for candidates, an extra-long campaign time is an effective way to stress out the other parties financially. Campaigns cost money, and the longer the campaign, the more money that’s needed. The Conservative Party, with its deep pockets, doesn’t have much to worry about in this regard.

The day after the announcement, I posted a tongue-in-cheek status update on Facebook thanking people for their birthday wishes and to help make my year extra special by voting Harper out.

It’s certainly no secret that even long before the announcement of the election, I’ve been involved with efforts to educate the public about why there’s an urgency to remove the Conservative stronghold on this country. Organizers like myself with the Edmonton Coalition Against War & Racism have been vocal about criticizing Harper’s foreign policy, which has included potential military aggression against Iraq and Syria, seemingly following the lead of the United States like a puppet.

More recently, however, it’s Harper’s own policies in our country which have been cause for concern not only by long-time activists but by growing numbers of citizens who are not usually found on picket lines or at peace rallies. Bill C-51, also known as the Anti-Terrorism Bill, raised a lot of backlash because of the special powers it appears to give CSIS and the RCMP, without adequately defining what constitutes criminal or ‘terrorist’ activity. Despite huge turnouts at several national days of action, the bill passed – and was unfortunately supported by the Liberals as well.

Then, Bill C-24 created two classes of citizens. People who are from elsewhere but who have become Canadian, who are dual citizens, or even who have the potential to become a dual citizen because of their parentage, can have their citizenship stripped and be deported if they are deemed a threat to national security. However, because Bill C-51 is so vague, it’s impossible to know what this kind of crime actually entails.

Alberta made national and international headlines in the spring because the Conservative party was essentially wiped out on a provincial level. Whether or not such a dramatic shift is in store for the entire country remains to be seen, but the potential is certainly there. For starters, former Premier Jim Prentice also called an early election – and that didn’t work in his favour. Neither did a very bad budget and policies that would have seen dramatic cuts to education and health.

What the Alberta election should teach all citizens, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum, is that every vote really does count and the voices of the people matter. Voting is our democratic privilege and we should use it, and use it wisely. The future of our country – and ourselves – is at stake.

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