And so it happened – the fruitful period of time that only comes once every few years has finally passed: the 2015 Canadian federal election.
We had the power to change the system. We had a say. We got to choose who would lead our government over the next four years. It was simple, really. We went to a polling station, waited in line for a few minutes, checked a little box off, and there. We did it. We did our part to help make Canada a better place.
Or at least, that’s what they tell us.
“Be an active citizen.”
“Do your part, vote now!”
“It is your right and responsibility to vote.”
While these are, in theory, legitimate reasons to encourage citizens to vote, they lack one key element: being informed.
The posters around our school that were put up a few days before the mock student vote illustrate my point exactly. They featured popular internet memes with the text edited to tell students to vote. While the posters were effective in getting the word out, they did little to encourage students to research the platforms of the political parties. Students who got to the polling stations were met by a long list of names, and oftentimes chose an arbitrary candidate because they didn’t have any more information.
Believe me, I know it’s not easy. I’m not a political person myself; while my civics class was busy discussing the ideologies of major political movements throughout history, I was desperately scrambling to find my notes on the difference between left-wing and right-wing. However, just as with any other part of school, if you don’t know, find out.
We live in the age of the internet, where information is readily accessible within seconds of the search. It only takes ten or twenty minutes to learn the key points of each major political party in Canada. It’s not that difficult. I’m not asking you to spend labourious hours scrutinizing over every nuanced detail in the platforms of all the political parties in Canada. I’m simply requesting that you have a basic understanding of the major front-runners in Canadian politics.
If you are going to vote just to “fulfill your rights,” don’t vote.
If you are voting for the political party you have always voted for just because they have always been your go-to option, don’t vote.
If you don’t care enough about the future of our government to spend twenty minutes of your life conducting some basic research, don’t vote.
We live in a privileged country where, as citizens, we have a legitimate voice in democracy. We are able to make an impact by the simple act of voting. So do the country a favour and make sure it’s informed.
A frustrated minor watching the “responsible” adults around her squander their rights.
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