Op- Ed | Election 2015 : The Guilt Trip. Time to Pay a Visit to Your Voting Booth.

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Here we are, in the closing days of July, at the zenith of the brief and fragile wonder most Northerners simply refer to as ‘summer’. You’re probably floating around near a dock somewhere, in an inflatable device of some kind, trying to forget the real world and all of its complications. The big ticket items in your brain right now are things like, “Should I paddle in and put on some more sunscreen?” Perhaps you are contemplating something more daring like, “Maybe I should take a run down to the trading post and get some more ice for the cooler, before cracking open that first beer?”

Hey listen, I get it. Believe me, I do. Don’t mean to harsh your mellow, but something’s brewing. Something big. Something you need to give some real thought to. Something that’s going to matter. Big time.

On October 19th, 2015, Canadians will go to the polls, to select a new Prime Minister. “So what,” you say, “you yanked me out of my happy place for that?”

Yes indeed, I did. Because, you see, this election could be different, from all the others. This election could be historic, and change the landscape of Canadian politics forever. If current trends continue, we might actually see something no Canadian has ever seen before – an NDP government, taking control in Ottawa. Have I got your attention now?

In an earlier article I did back on May 7th, covering the spectacular defeat of the Alberta Conservatives at the hands of Rachel Notley and her New Democratic Party, I flippantly predicted an NDP majority in the next Federal Election. I was just kidding! But wouldn’t you know it, the NDP under Thomas Mulcair have morphed into a political juggernaut, leading the pack in many recent polls. Could they actually pull this off? Have they got the staying power to win the prize? Is Canadian history about to be made?

Okay, the NDP aren’t sitting in ‘majority’ territory right now -I’ll concede that. They are doing well, consistently well, in the early stages, but with roughly three months left until voting day, any candidate or political pundit will tell you that there are many lifetimes left in this election, until the dust settles. Political fortunes can be won or lost, even in the final days. And as the stakes rise, so does the risk-taking. Nothing is certain, at this point in the game.

There are three parties in serious contention this time around, instead of the traditional two, and this changes the dynamics dramatically. The NDP, the Conservatives, and yes, even the Liberals, still have a realistic shot of winning this thing. A three-way race will become a dizzying affair, as the parties vie for your attention while keeping their eyes, and their political guns, trained on the competition. They will strive to distinguish themselves from each other, and break out of the pack. And to accomplish that goal, they are going to blitz you, the Canadian voter, with everything in their political arsenal.

So, how do you, the Canadian voter, prepare yourself for this onslaught? Well, you have to start thinking about it now, and think about it often. You’re going to need good information. You’re going to need to educate yourself on the parties, the candidates, and the issues. Sounds like summer school, doesn’t it? What a drag!

Take heart, fellow dock paddlers! I’m going to do what I can, to ease your burden! Today, I embark upon a series of articles, in an effort to give average Canadians the best chance to make an informed decision in October. It’s a lofty goal, one that gives me shivers of insecurity. After all, who am I, some kind of self-proclaimed political expert? Why should anyone listen to what I think about Canadian politics? That’s a fair question, one that deserves an answer.

I’m no expert. I’m just a Canadian, born and raised in Northern Ontario. I make an average wage, own an average home, and pay average taxes. I’m in exactly the same boat many of you find yourselves in. I love my country, and care about the future generations that are coming up behind me. Again, nothing that separates me from many of you. I suppose there’s really only one good reason why anyone should listen to what I have to say about the upcoming election. I’m willing to take the time to track down the information, assemble it in a readable fashion, and present it to you in a fair and balanced way. At this point in the game, I honestly don’t care who wins this election. What I do care about, is that Canada gleans the best possible future from the result. The candidate who will deliver this hope I have, their identity still eludes me.

So, join me in my quest to discover that leader, the best possible choice for Canada. I will lend my limited writing ability, and whats left of my brain cells, to the cause. But first, there is something I must do. It will not be pleasant, but it’s necessary. To do this election right, I must first call out all Canadians, and shame them. You heard me right, shame.

In the 2011 election, roughly 54% of eligible voters participated in the Federal Election. The Conservative Party, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, won roughly 40% of the vote, to form a majority government. Do you have any idea what this means? Let me break it down for you!

Break out your calculators! Multiply 54% by 40% – what do you get? That’s right, 21.6% So, for the last several years, the fate of Canada has been determined by roughly 22% of the population! Shame on you, Canada!

All this freedom, all this opportunity, the greatest country in the world, and only about half of us care enough to participate in the democratic process that keeps this country great? Disgusting! It was the second-lowest voter turnout in history! What to we need to do, drop a puck in front of the voting booth to get you to participate? For crying out loud, wake up, Canada!

So now, you can see why I interrupted your little ‘float around the dock’. Now you know why we need to start thinking about this now, talking about it now. History could be made in Canada in a few months, and the worst possible thing that could happen to this country, is that not enough Canadians care to participate in it. Like I said, I honestly don’t care who wins right now, but I do care that you care!

So, do you care?

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