Your vote matters

Why bother? People who don't consider themselves political often just shrug their shoulders and declare that their vote makes no difference.

I beg to differ.

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Not voting is basically giving others your vote. Not voting means your opinion is not heard on the one day that matters the most. Regardless if your chosen candidate wins or loses by several thousand votes, your vote is counted, and the candidates are aware of the numbers. The winner will know how many people didn't vote for them. They will notice who got how many votes.

Their constituency, those they represent, is made up of everyone, those who voted for them, the ones who didn't. Every vote tells the parties something about the community they serve, their electorate.

For example, the Green Party has never received enough votes to hold power, and barely enough to elect a few candidates. Their percentage of votes across Canada went as high as 6.8 per cent in 2008, but has gone down ever since. Why? Likely because over the years, other parties saw the votes Green candidates were getting, and adapted their platforms to address their concerns. So successful has this relatively small portion of voters been in moving the needle of public opinion, that in this election, the "green" message has come to be a major topic in the campaign.

For specifically northern concerns, it is especially important that our small populations show up in big numbers on election day. We need voter turnout to be huge, so huge that the pundits will talk about it the next day. We need our concerns to matter to Ottawa if we want to thrive. We need our concerns heard and addressed, because we are the harbinger for the rest of the country. As rural and remote Canada flourishes or struggles, so does the rest of Canada. Imagine what would happen if we went from 68 per cent in 2015 to 90 per cent this time round. We would be in the news. The issues that concern us would be in the news. That would be a huge win for us, regardless of who won the election.

Then there is the matter of courage, or in politics, political will. There are so many issues effecting us every day that need political will to be solved. Consider that we need the softwood lumber agreement to matter in Ottawa. We need better access to foreign markets for our cleaner fuels. Do we want Canadian technology to be purchased to improve emissions or is it okay for other countries to squeeze us out of those markets? Do we want to continue to allow American oil tankers to sail through our waters, but not Canadian oil? All these difficult issues require a great deal of political will to solve.

The only thing (.... or at least the most benign thing) that creates political will is votes. High voter turnout is energizing to all the candidates, and will help hold the winner accountable. High voter turnout means people are watching, and will demand results. This is good for us.

So, take your family to vote. Offer your neighbour a ride to vote. If you get a call from a political party volunteer asking for your vote, thank them for their time, and go vote. On election day, some of you may get reminder calls to go vote. Vote. Just go vote. Because in the North especially, your vote matters.

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