On Nov. 7 inhabitants of Saskatchewan will go to the polls to vote for new leadership. Unfortunately, it is too often in Canada that we neglect or take for granted the freedom that we have to choose the people who lead us.
Recent events in the Middle East, primarily that of the Arab Spring, have brought to light the fact that people in other countries do not live the same lives that we do. That is not to say that no one paid attention to the regimes in distant places, but instead some choose to be blissfully ignorant of the problems others face. In countries such as Libya, citizens had lived under a repressive dictatorship for over 40 years; they could not voice their problems without fear of reprisals, could not choose a new leader or show discontent.
Here in Canada we face no such problems. If we have an issue we can protest; if we don’t like the person who leads us we can elect another.
The problem that we face in Canada is that many choose not to vote. In the 2008 federal election only 58.8 per cent of those who were eligible to vote did so, making that the lowest voter turnout in Canadian federal election history. This year’s election, with the so-called “Orange Crush” and heightened interest, only resulted in a turnout of 61.1 per cent.
For a country that takes pride in its freedom, that number is almost unacceptable.
Many complain that they do not or will not vote because they believe their vote does not really matter, that it is merely a drop in the bucket when winners are decided by the thousands. That is only partially true; while some ridings are decided by a wide margin, others have come down to a difference of only 25 votes — that means every individual vote counts and every citizen’s voice can be heard.
On Nov. 7, if you’re over 18, take half an hour out of your day and cast a vote because it truly does matter. Celebrate the freedom you have to choose and enjoy the fact that you can make a difference without taking up arms, or fearing retribution for your actions. This is after all a democratic society where freedom is the main objective.