We’ve now entered the year 2015: federal election year. On October 19, Canadians will once again have the chance to choose the people who will govern our nation for the next four years. That date is now about 40 weeks away, so it’s time to start thinking about what our plan is for that seemingly-distant date. Will we bother to exercise our democratic freedoms, or will we sit at home and complain endlessly about the results of an election we opted to take no part in?
I know most of our readers hope that the Conservative government will taste defeat this year, if for no other reason than to believe it will stop me from singing their praises. This result, however, is far from certain, as early polls show all three major parties (sorry, Elizabeth May) are scoring relatively tight numbers overall.
Based on the numbers, it appears that we university students may have the power to influence the result of this election and the future of our nation. While the Big Three remain neck and neck in most areas, there is one demographic that is overwhelmingly Liberal: 18–29-year-olds, many of whom are university students.
And yet, as a member of the Conservative Party, I am not concerned by this. You may wonder why this is, but the answer is really quite simple: this age bracket, where Trudeau appears to be receiving the majority of his polling support, has repeatedly been the one with the worst voter turnout come election day. According to Elections Canada, the previous federal election featured a mere 38.8 per cent turnout for those aged 18–24, and a slightly better but still terrible turnout of 45.1 per cent for the 25–34-year-olds.
By failing to vote, we give our elected officials justification for not listening to our issues.
While the Conservative in me is content with the election win, the rest of my 29-year-old brain wonders what the heck is going on, especially since those two demographics tend to be the ones from whom I receive the most comments about how Harper is ruining this country.
I understand that many Canadians justify their lack of participation in democracy with the claim that politicians don’t care about youth issues. While I won’t dispute this claim, this turns into a bit of a cyclical argument, especially because youth tend not to have much of the standard currency that gets politicians to listen: actual currency.
The only thing we have is our voice, and if we don’t bother to use it on the one day when it really matters, politicians have no reason to listen or care about youth issues. By failing to participate, we give our elected officials justification for not listening, as such a small turnout is hardly going to influence the results.
Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw once famously noted that “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.” If you think you deserve better, it’s up to you to follow the political decisions made this year, and to participate and elect the government you think we deserve. Otherwise, you and all those who failed to do their democratic duty are to blame for the results.
I know what I’ll be doing on October 19. Do you?