Democracy; Don’t Take it for Granted

Were you recently disappointed in the voter turn of for the Ontario provincial election? Only 49% of eligible voters decided to make their voices heard. In other parts of the world, women are still fighting for their right to vote. Can you believe this apathy? I’m appalled.

While as a nurse, I am largely paid by taxpayer dollars, this does not automatically make me into a socialist. Of course I’m going to support healthcare, and the hiring of more nurses. But my decision isn’t based without reason. We all know how the conservative party before cut healthcare dollars, and eventually created a nursing shortage. Recent hospital funding cut-backs have also seen a decreased in the amount of nurses hired. Ultimately, this results in nursing burn-out and unsafe work environments. And for the reader, it means that your safety is in jeopardy.

What drives voters to this point? Was it due to voter fatigue? We did have a federal election in May, and the mayor race in Toronto in late 2010. Additionally, the candidates weren’t particularly exciting, nor were their platforms. However, this is no excuse to not go out and vote.

Many of my friends blame the inconvenience of going after work to vote, but advanced polls are open a week before to lessen the congestion. Others tell me they are unsure or uninformed. Well, sites like CBC’s Vote Compass is a fantastic tool to help those decide on a party. Other ways to become informed are simple as reading the newspaper, or watching the live debate. There really is no excuse not to know the platforms. (Telling me that it cuts into your Jersey Shore time slot is NOT a valid reason — whatever way, you want to spin it!)

Recently the CBC had a poll: Why has vote turnout gone down? And the top cited reason pollsters choose was “People don’t think their vote matters.” With this pessimistic attitude, of course the majority of voters are going to forgo voting.

However, in the last federal election, Canadians decided that they wanted a NDP-lead opposition. I bet you didn’t see that coming a few years ago. And I was extremely pleased with Jack Layton’s accountability and passion. It was inspiring. So with that monumental win, you would think that voters would realize how important their votes really are!

We need to inspire those that have become disenchanted by the political system. Perhaps new blood will infuse some vigour to the races. I even think after Toronto elected the radical Rob Ford, it sparked some lively debate. It aroused something in Torontonians; a lot stemmed out of outrage, but it made people care about politics again.

Give yourself a voice, and please cast a ballot in the next election.

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