A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

After the Writ Is Dropped

Posted on: July 31, 2015

The writing is on the wall: before the back-to-school routine begins, before the summer heat starts to wane, and maybe even before the sun sets on the civic holiday, we’ll find ourselves in the midst of a federal election campaign.

Campaign brochures at the door, lawn signs, and negative TV and radio ads await.

Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to vote, and I haven’t missed a municipal, provincial or federal election since I became eligible to cast a ballot. My concern is that, as a person of faith, choosing the party and candidate to support could be challenging. But this is one challenge I urge everyone to accept.

If we don’t vote, so the saying goes, we get the government we deserve.

Promote the Vote, an organization working to increase voter turnout, lists on its website the top reasons people give for not voting, including the belief that our vote won’t make a difference and a lack of knowledge about the issues.

voter registration

Use the Online Voter Registration Service to make sure you’re on the voters’ list.

In fact, every vote counts. Sometimes ballots have to be recounted because two candidates are separated by a handful of votes. But according to the Did You Know? section of Elections Canada’s website, “Voter turnout at the 2008 federal general election (58.8%) was the lowest in Canadian history.” Consider how differently contests could turn out in each riding, let alone on a larger scale, if more of us exercised our right to vote.

As for not knowing about the issues, we can learn about the ones the parties believe to be important by listening to the radio, reading the paper, watching the news, or visiting the parties’ websites. But we need to take the time to find out where the parties stand on issues that matter to us: issues relating to the economy, social justice, the environment, implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations for dealing with the residential schools’ legacy, and so on.

Not convinced? The Catechism (s. 2240) also reminds us that we have a duty to mark that ballot this fall:

Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. . . .

I admit that a long political campaign won’t be a day at the beach, although it could provide Rick Mercer with a lot of material for the Rick Mercer Report. But I pray that we’d make the effort to ensure that we’re informed, our names are on the voters’ list, and we have a plan to vote in an advance poll or on election day itself.

For more information about ridings, the identification needed to vote and the various ways to vote, please visit the Voters section of the Elections Canada website.

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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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