A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Exercising Our Right to Vote

Posted on: September 16, 2013

I don’t belong to a political party, but I do take part in the political process: I vote.

I couldn’t wait to turn 18 so that I could vote, and in every election—municipal, federal or provincial—since I became eligible, I have cast my ballot. Sometimes I vote in advance polls, and sometimes I vote in the last couple of hours before the polls close, but I always vote.

Something many people don’t bother to do, as low voter turnouts in recent years have shown.

Why worry about this now? Besides the fact that the spectre of a provincial election looms over those of us in Ontario, September 16 to 23 is Canada’s Democracy Week, as I learned from the weekend edition of the Ottawa Citizen.

The Catechism talks about our involvement in the political process:

  • “The Church respects and encourages the political freedom and responsibility of the citizen.” (s. 2245)
  • It is “morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.” (s. 2240)
  • “It is the duty of citizens to work with civil authority for building up society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity and freedom.” (s. 2255)

Citizens 18 and up have the right to vote but, as people of faith, we also have a moral duty to vote and to work with the government to improve our society.

No need to become a card-carrying Liberal, Conservative, New Democrat, or Green, or even a party volunteer—although that’s a great way to work for change, and parties are always looking for new members and volunteers. But we do need to get involved:

  • by making our voices heard. We can contact the Member of Provincial Parliament (see the Legislative Assembly of Ontario site) or Member of Parliament (see the Parliament of Canada site) for our riding if we appreciate his or her efforts or want to express concerns about a particular issue.
  • by taking note of the parties’ stances on issues that matter to us. We can read party platforms online or candidates’ printed brochures and try to watch candidates’ debates after the writ drops. Our diocese may offer a voter’s guide. And we can find out how the incumbents voted on certain issues (for example, Campaign Life Coalition provides some information about politicians’ voting records).
  • by voting. Whether we take advantage of advance polls or vote on election day itself, we need to exercise this right.

As Christians, we’re called to stand up for our beliefs. If we want to make sure that our views on environmental, right-to-life, social justice and other issues are heard, we need to speak up. And vote.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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