Live Well, Do Good

Vote Early, Vote Often, and Vary Your Vote

Brandon Sun, October 4, 2008 - David McConkey

Because our election seems to have a foregone conclusion and be so boring compared to the American one, you might be tempted to not bother voting.

But, please do get out there and vote. For anyone!

This election, like any election, has a bearing on our country’s future. Every vote does add up.

For one thing, your vote could decide the winner. For another, your vote provides government funding for the party of your choice - now and until the next election. 

I have heard some, especially younger people, say it is not responsible to vote, since they don’t know enough about the issues and the candidates. I say: get involved anyway, ignorance never held back my generation!

Besides, voting once can inspire one to become more informed the next time around. Voting is a good habit to get into.

An important question for this election: Is it responsible to vote for a “fringe” party?

This time in Brandon-Souris, the question is especially appropriate, for two reasons. One, the Conservatives are almost sure to win here again. Two, the Greens have a very attractive candidate in Dave Barnes.

I am voting for Barnes, and here’s why.

The person:  “Vote for the person, not the party,” is an expression of long standing. It makes sense. I have known Dave Barnes for years, encountering him in various musical, charitable, and environmental settings. I know of his work as a high school teacher creating the EcoOdyssey program, and the high regard he is held by students and by their parents.

As a bonus, Barnes speaks French. Regardless of party, sending someone to Ottawa with the competence and conscientiousness of Barnes would be a good thing.

The party:  I don’t agree with everything that the Green party stands for, but I do like their overall focus. I’m tired of conservative politicians, in effect, telling us, “Don’t worry, buy more stuff” – Like Stephen Harper cutting the GST to encourage us to consume more, or U.S. President George W. Bush after Sept. 11 declaring the best way to respond was for everyone to go shopping.

I like the Green party challenging citizens to think long-term and to consider the costs of being environmentally responsible. I also like the Greens going beyond traditional left- and right-wing thinking.

The better the Greens do in this election, the more all parties are encouraged to think more holistically.

The constituency:  We do ourselves a collective disservice when we vote in a predictable way. Because Brandon-Souris is assumed to be a safe Conservative seat, it is written off by all parties. We likely won’t see much attention being paid to us, or major party leaders visiting us.

Instead, why don’t we vary our vote, and put Brandon-Souris in play, and on the map? If we elected the Green party here, or even placed it second (a real possibility), we would raise our national profile.

I have voted Conservative, Liberal, and NDP at various times in the past. I encourage all not to be afraid to vote for a different party, at least one time. You can always change back in the next election.

The Responsibility:  Let’s return to the original question: Is it responsible to vote for a fringe party, instead of the mainstream?

Yes it is.

Firstly, fringe parties can grow and become part of the mainstream. That’s what Reform did when it evolved into the Alliance and then joined with Progressive Conservatives to become the current Conservative party.

Secondly, voting for a mainstream party is not always the most prudent option. Even setting aside environmental concerns, I don’t think Conservative policies have been fiscally sound.

Cutting the GST, instead of income taxes, is not forward-looking and not good for productivity. Plus, the Conservatives are spending more than the previous Jean Chr├ętien and Paul Martin governments. A healthy surplus has dwindled to nearly a deficit.

 “Voters were initially assured a Conservative government would be fiscally responsible,” the Canadian Taxpayers Federation asserted recently. “The Tories have instead been reckless, embarking on a spending binge that hamstrings their ability to lower personal income taxes and reduce debt in the future.”

After potentially four or eight years of Conservative deficit spending, we could be looking to another party to clean up the mess. It happened before – in 1993. That was after Brian Mulroney: the last time we had a Conservative government. 

Canada apparently will have the Conservatives back in power after the election on October 14.

But wouldn’t it be good to have a Green influence in the opposition now? And possibly part of the government in the future?

* * * 

See also:

Issues for the Next Election? 

Reflecting on Consumption 

Real Discussions on Tax and Crime are Being Avoided

Citizen Active

Youth May Soon Lead Change



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