• Nathaniel G. Sands

My vote in the upcoming Canadian federal election

We are less than two weeks away from an election here in Canada, in fact early voting has started! But it can be difficult knowing who to vote for. There is a lot to consider when heading to the polls, so let's first look at what our vote actually does.

When we go to vote, it's important to know that our vote isn't for a political party, or for the leader of that party; We are technically voting for a candidate, a single person from our riding/town to represent us in the house of commons in Ottawa. This candidate who wins the election is known as a Member of Parliament, MP for short. There are 338 seats in the house, and who you vote for is who you would like to see occupy a seat. This person, the MP who is voted in from the riding, then has the opportunity to speak and vote about various federal issues alongside the other representatives that were voted into the house.

But most candidates align themselves with a party, which needs to be considered when placing your vote. If the candidate you vote for aligns him or herself with a party that means they believe in the parties agenda, and will follow that parties leader when it comes to vision and voting in the house. That means we must consider three important factor's when voting: The candidate who will represent our riding, the party they align themselves with, and the leader representing that party.

For months I have been pressing the conversation with friends and even strangers on who they plan to vote for. I have found that more Canadians talk about American politics than what is going on in their own country. I personally find it frustrating, as we have no influence on what happens in the states, and discussing it's politics sounds more like gossip than anything else. Lately though, I have felt the shift. People are now more inclined to talk about the election and how they plan to vote. Often the conversation get's heated. Was it always like this?

The late and great Mike Sands

When I was a child, my dad often discussed politics with me during voting season. My dad used to say that it was personal who one voted for, and no one should feel obligated to discuss their vote with anyone else. Each of us must make a decision on who we feel best represents our values and interest. Here is a simple reading of each parties platforms, so that you can make an informed decision on who might best represent you:

Even though I am opting to share who I plan to vote for, and encourage others to do so as well, ultimately no one should feel the necessity to do so. It's unfortunate that some people feel it appropriate to mock or ridicule other's based on their vote, as if they know all! I have seen this happen when people share their voting decision. Never feel ashamed about who you vote for. And each candidate represents a significant portion of the populations interests and values. Vote for who you think is best, do not vote in a way to avoid criticism from your friends and neighbours. In the end we are all ignorant, and they are all politicians. And if you feel you will be mocked for your vote, keep it a secret, it is your right!

Although my late father kept his vote secret, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me sharing this story:

I forget which election this was for but I was just a kid in the car with my dad when he pulled up to the elementary school to vote. I asked him who he was voting for. He said he would like to vote for NDP, as it aligned more with his values and interest, but that he was going to vote for Jean Chretien and the Liberals, because in the end it would be either the Liberals or the Conservatives that won the seat, and the liberals leaned closer toward his thinking.

This is called strategic voting.

It seems these days more people are inclined to vote against a party than for a party. Often I hear, "I'm voting Conservative so Liberals don't win," or vice-versa. What this person is saying is, "Instead of picking the candidate who best represents my ideals, I am going to vote for the most likely candidate to beat the one that runs futherthest from my ideals."

I understand this approach, but I don't like to vote in such a manner. I personally believe it's more important to vote for who I stand behind, not who I am against. But what if the party I align myself with has no hope of winning? Will my vote even matter?

To take all things into account, I must first look at the current conditions of my town's political ideals. I cannot predict the future, but I would certainly put money on the Conservatives winning my riding's seat. Last election, Dan Ruimy with the Liberals won our riding, 17600 votes, followed by Conservatives 16300, and NDP 15300. But this time around a lot has changed. I believe a major portion of votes came from the Liberals campaign of legalizing marijuana, and having a party leader who looked and sounded right. They are going to be hard pressed for votes this time from my riding. Although I believe Dan Ruimy to be a wonderful candidate and a good man who I have had the pleasure of having extensive conversations with, the sentiment of the town is heavily leaning toward conservative. There is a very real animosity towards Trudeau, which I must admit I partially share. I predict the NDP will steal a lot of the Liberals votes and will be a close second. But second place means nothing in this regard. You either get a seat in the house or you don't.

Given my father aligned himself with the NDP, and that I believe they are the only party to steal the seat here in my riding, one may assume that is who I will vote for. But the truth is that I am leaning toward voting for the Green Party.

During last weeks debate between leaders, I was impressed by Elizabeth May of the Green Party. She was the only one of the group who seemed to speak genuinely and thoughtfully. She spoke like a true leader, whereas I found all the others, including Jagmeet Singh of the NDP, to speak the way politicians do... making audacious promises- perhaps hoping we will forget about them as people tend to do - using preplanned catch-phrases to mock one another, and virtue signaling in an attempt to claim moral high ground.

Here is a link to the debate, every Canadian should watch:

Regardless of whether the party you vote for wins or not, your vote is important. Although I know the Green's won't win in my riding, a vote for them is a vote of support. And as I said, I am more inclined to vote for who I support, not against who I dislike. I think of future politics as well. If we vote for who we want to win, regardless of whether they have a chance of winning, more votes for a party means next election more support, and more appropriate leaders will feel inclined to run with them - a snowball effect. And given I believe Conservatives will certainly win my riding regardless, wouldn't a vote for Green have a bigger impact than a vote for NDP?

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