Tuesday, October 7, 2008


One week from today on October 14, Canadians go to the poles to elect a new government.

Four weeks from today, on November 4, our neighbours to the south in the USA will go to the poles to elect a new president and numerous other lower political offices.
So which election is more interesting? DUH! The USA of course.

Here in Canada, the election rhetoric can get pretty strong but it doesn't tend to get as nasty as the USA does with name calling and in your face attack ads.

Technically speaking we, here in Canada weren't actually supposed to be going to the poles again until Monday, October 19, 2009. This date was established after the passing of the "Fixed Election Dates Bill" on May 3, 2006. It stated that a general election will be held on the third Monday of October every four years after the election day of the last general election unless the government has lost a non-confidence vote in the House of Commons.

Prior to this bill, a general election had to be called at least every five years, but was at the discretion of the Prime Minister or a non-confidence vote. There are four main reasons for fixed elections: 1) Fairness to all parties; 2) Predictability; 3) Improved policy planning; 4) Higher voter turnout.

Well there was no non-confidence vote, but Prime Minister Harper has decided that we need an election anyway. He has been leading a minority government for three years and I assume he thinks he can win a majority or at least hold on to his minority or why else would he waste our time and millions of dollars on an election?

There are five main parties in Canada, but only two have ever earned enough seats to actually rule (liberals and conservatives). The other three have often held the deciding votes on many legislative actions and have had a hand in bringing down minority governments.

Regardless of which party you vote for, the federal election is bound to be a bit of a yawner, as it just doesn't have the pizazz of the USA campaigns.

The US election in November is going to be ground breaking no matter which party wins. If the Republicans win, then there will be the first female Vice President in US history. If the Democrats win, then there will be the first African American President in US history. Many voters are torn on voting for a woman or a black man. Many women are feeling the pull of voting for a woman. Many black people are feeling pulled to vote for a black man. Sadly, there are those who are still living in the past and can't tolerate the thought of either in office.

I can understand the pull. In the early 1990's, Winnipeg was electing a new mayor and one of the leaders in that race was a woman who did go on to become the cities first female mayor. I spoke with several women who felt they should vote for her out of solidarity for women, yet they had no clue where she stood on any political issues!! Excuse me?? That is nuts!! Voting for the same gender or race is not using your democratic rights to there full advantage. You have to know who and what you are voting for!
For generations, in the USA and Canada, only white men had the right to vote. Women and minorities fought and campaigned long and hard to win the right for all adults to vote regardless of gender, race or religion. They did that so that the most qualified people could govern and help establish the laws of the land. I strongly believe that they would tell us to look at the policies of the candidates rather than the gender or race.

Whomever you or I vote for, it is a personal choice that must be based on which candidate/party best represents your political beliefs. Anything less than that is a wasted vote.

Politics and Politicians are the butt of countless jokes and I could easily have gone that way with this post, as I have told my fair share of political jokes and forwarded lots of e-mails with that type of humour. However, I still believe in the democratic right to cast my vote and have a say in what happens in my country.

Millions of people across the world are fighting for the opportunity to have a say in how there country is run. They are envious of the fact that we have that right and are also appalled at how much voter apathy exists in the democratic countries of the world. I also feel that if you choose not to vote, then you have absolutely no right to complain about anything the government does until you get off your ass and vote at the next available opportunity!


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