• Caroline Jonah

Why Canadians Should Vote

In the federal election last month, 68% of eligible voters cast a ballot, the highest turnout since 1993. However, it is still not anywhere close to where it should be. Four years ago, in the 2011 federal election, there was an extreme lack of voter participation. Though most age demographics had low voter turnout, the lowest among the age groups was Canadians between the ages of 18 to 24. Only 37.8% of the youngest age demographic voted.

However, why so many young Canadians, and Canadians in general, choose not to vote is hard to say. The most common reason for why eligible voters don’t cast a ballot is they think none of the parties represent what they believe in. In my opinion, that is understandable. If you have done research on each party running in your riding, including any independent MPs, and you cannot find a single policy that you agree with, then voting would be quite difficult.

However, having done all this research and not finding any policies you agree with, considering politics in Canada do tend to range from far left to far right, would also seem to be quite difficult.

The fact of the matter is that every party will have policies you like and policies you don’t like, and even though you shouldn’t have to settle, the best anyone can do is find a party that -- for you -- has the most pros and the least cons. Voting is even more essential if you don’t agree with any of the policies of the party in power. Not voting will help this party, because you’re not aiding the opposition.

The fact is that in the 2011 election, fewer voters voted for the Conservative Party than voters who didn’t vote at all. This won them a 54% majority in the House of Commons (this percentage is in terms of seats -- they won 39% of the popular vote). By choosing not to vote, you’re undermining democracy, something that many people around the world would love to have.

So, that statistic shows that boycotting an election doesn’t really work; democracy needs full participation in order to function. If you don’t believe in democracy then this isn’t an issue for you. But as long as you do, voting is essential. Of course, because we live in Canada, if a party does something that upsets you, you have the right to protest. That means a large demonstration where you express your disapproval using signs with slogans, public speakers and any other way you can think of having your voice heard. However, effective protesting techniques do not include refusing to vote.

It is easy to become frustrated and disappointed with the politics of our country. This can be the case especially if none of the candidates take the time to discuss issues that matter to you, or if you believe them to be incompetent liars. Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” While Canadian politics are difficult, they could be much worse. We have the right to have our voices heard, so if we want the best democracy possible, all we have to do is vote.