It’s election time! Preparations for the 43rd federal election are well underway and this year's vote, scheduled to take place on October 21, is sure to be an interesting one. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals will fight for re-election against Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives, currently in opposition. Also in the running are Jagmeet Singh representing the New Democratic Party (NDP), Yves-François Blanchet representing the Bloc Quebecois, Elizabeth May representing the Green Party, and Maxime Bernier, for the People’s Party of Canada.
In anticipation of the upcoming election, Elections Canada has come up with many resources to make the voting process easier. The Inspire Democracy program connects with leaders and organizations that work with youth in order to provide them with the tools and materials needed to inform young electors and prepare them to vote.
The "It's Our Vote" campaign gives Canadians the information they need to become a candidate, work at an election, register and vote, with the aim of reducing barriers to voting for first-time voters, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities, in order to ensure that all Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote.
Finally, the Vote on Campus program works with national student associations and membership organizations to set up special ballot voting offices at more than 115 post-secondary campuses. Since many McGill students are from outside of Quebec, they will need to vote by special ballot. To vote under the Special Voting Rules electors must:
- Register to vote by special ballot no later than 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before polling day
- Obtain the names of the candidates in his or her electoral district (in an election, the elector completes the special ballot by writing the name of the chosen candidate, not the name of the political party)
- In the case of an elector voting by special ballot outside the electoral district of his or her ordinary residence, ensure that the completed ballot arrives at Elections Canada in Ottawa no later than 6:00 p.m., Eastern Time, on polling day
Why you should vote
As Canadians, electoral participation is both your right and your responsibility. You should have a say in the decisions that the government makes because they affect you; healthcare, education, housing, defense, and environmental policies all influence your day-to-day life experiences. As a voter, you have the opportunity to reshape dialogues around certain topics, propose solutions to issues you see impacting your community and, ultimately, give yourself the ability to optimize your own experience as a citizen.
Elisabeth Gidengil, Professor of Canadian Politics and expert in the field of political engagement and democratic citizenship affirms the weight of electoral participation. She points out that, “though [it] may sound like a truism, our democracy requires democrats… with growing concern about democratic backsliding in established democracies, it’s worth remembering that engaged citizens are an important line of defense”. She goes on to note that “it’s worth remembering that halfway around the globe students are taking risks just to win the full right to vote”. Being able to vote is a democratic right that, not too long ago, even some Canadians were not afforded; their hard work should be celebrated by our continued political participation.
Ultimately, voting is a way to be part of something larger than yourself. It means discovering your values and the values of others, becoming informed about what’s going on in your community, and learning how to make compromises. Playing your part in the community by fulfilling your civic duty brings you closer to your community as a citizen.
While voting is a right, it also involves responsibility. As electors, it is our duty to make well-educated and unprejudiced decisions when casting our ballot. As such, an important part of voting involves staying well informed about Canada’s parties and their platforms. If you are unsure what the party platforms are this year, or just need a quick refresher, you can find a quick overview here: https://www.macleans.ca/politics/2019-federal-election-platform-guide-where-the-parties-stand-on-everything/
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