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Your right to VOTE, or not: Democracy in Action.

Words by | Ross Hawse

For the last few months we have been subjected to a steady diet of election coverage. Facebook posts, street signs, TV and Radio ads, news coverage and in our household , family discussions.

This is the first election in the Hawse household that will have 3 of the 4 inhabitants voter eligible. This is providing some very lively exchanges over the dinner table. Well lately the discussions have not actually been over the dinner table as dinner has been in front of the TV on a few occasions for playoff baseball and hockey.

*It should be noted though that mixed in with our sports viewing we have forced ourselves to watch several of the leaders debates and at the urging of my daughter, countless hours of CPAC.

If you haven’t spent anytime with this channel, let me try to give you an idea of what it is like; Imagine attending every political rally for every party leader every single day. Even the ones in French.

I have had more fun at the dentist. (Sorry about that dentists, but you know it’s true) 

It still amazes me how many political signs get posted along the highways. I wonder if a study has ever been done to see if the number or size of election signs actually influences who people vote for. I am going to have to google that. You can’t really get a feel for a candidate from an election sign and Canada seems more concerned with voting for a party rather than an individual.

That is unfortunate.

There are and have been some very dedicated and hard working members of parliament that have ended up losing their seat because their party or their party’s leader had made mistakes.

During this election campaign, I have learned the political leanings of a fair number of my friends via Facebook. Not only have I seen the pictures of their uncooked thanksgiving turkey’s, but I have also been subjected to their views on the Niqab, the oil sands, ISIS and Justin Trudeau’s hair.

There is an option of course that you can select so you don’t see posts from certain friends without unfriending, but I refuse to do this. Wether I agree or disagree with their choice to lead our country, I respect the fact that they are willing to put themselves out there for their beliefs. As long as the discussion is civil and respectful to opposing views… then bring it on. It is what makes democracy great.

Bernie Sanders is a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in the U.S. He said it is easy to speak to people who believe the same things as you do, but much more difficult to have that conversation with people who oppose your views. Regardless of our personal views, we should be able to have the discussion.

In August, while waiting in line to board a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, my daughter had my son and I both take an online quiz to determine which political party we best align with. The questions really made you think about what was important to you as a Canadian. Do you support pipelines, more affordable education, more funding for child care, less taxes, more taxes?

At one point while waiting in the car that day we discussed the fact that voter turnout has been slipping every year and that young people seem to be one of the hardest demo’s to get inspired to cast a ballot. In Australia everyone of legal voting age must vote. If they don’t they get a small fine. They have a very high voter turnout.

My children think this is a good idea and I have many friends who feel the same way. It is hard to believe that someone would not exercise their democratic right and cast their ballot but at the same time I am ok with those who don’t. We live in a democracy that allows certain freedoms. Our country has a proud history of defending our rights as we’ll as other country’s rights; that comes with living in a democracy.

 Speech, religion, politics, immunization, abortion, gay marriage.

Under that same democracy we have the right to vote or not vote.

The conversations we have been having in our home, have been happening right across the country. I can’t recall the last time a federal election was talked about this much in my circle of friends and family. Perhaps it is the growth of social media, or the fact that all three parties are or have been fairly close in the polls. Whatever the reason, I am hopeful it will result in a voter turnout that we can all be proud of. That would be nice. I will be visiting the polling station on election day with my son who will be casting his first ever vote. That is exciting, although, if he chose to not vote, that would still be alright, just not as exciting.

October 19th, check your local offices for voting locations.

words by | Ross Hawse of #musication

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