2011 Canadian Election: Why I won’t vote on May 2

I won’t be voting on May 2. And I won’t be alone.

The 2011 Canadian federal election will likely go down as the most unpopular in history in terms of percentage of voter turnout. In fact, it’s a given that less Canadians will cast a vote for representation in Parliament than will have watched some part of the Royal Wedding three days earlier.

Even when I lived in the U.S. for 10 years, I never missed a vote. I made sure to send in an absentee ballot for the elections in 1997, 2000 and 2004, voting each time for Liberal Karen Redman of Kitchener Centre. This time, my riding is in downtown Toronto and I’m not coming out.

According to a study from Simon Fraser University, the country witnessed a drop in voter turnout for four consecutive elections from 1988 until 2006, when there was a 3.8-percent uptick to 64.7 percent as Stephen Harper managed to rally the Conservative Party and win a minority government. The trend reverted in 2008, which marked the first federal election when fewer than 60 percent (58.8, or 13.9 million) of registered voters cast a ballot. Should the initial polling results play out on Election Day 2011, it’s conceivable Harper could win his long-sought majority government with a minority turnout of registered voters. (Since not all adult Canadians are registered voters, we’ve already had federal elections where more adults eligible to vote have opted not to do so than those who did.)


If you’ve decided to stay away from the polls on Election Day, get ready for the name-calling. We’re going to be labeled apathetic by media and chastised by political wonks for not performing our civic duty. Few people who are into politics in this country will admit that the topic of their keen interest is, these days, banal, monotone, more dull than a senate committee hearing on the benefits of beaver crossing signs (bilingual, of course) in national parks and, most damning of all, spectacularly inconsequential.

Canada is orderly; it’s principled, it’s a good and decent country with enough checks and balances in place to keep it so. Canadians are, if not content, generally okay with how things are working, partly because we’re doing better than many in the States.

Harper will take credit, some of it deserved, for steering us clear of the worst of the Great Recession and winning our banking industry applause from around the world. He’ll run on the economy and Michael Ignatieff will run on being a Liberal, because he’s got nothing of substance on which to base a campaign. To win, he must convince us his red is warm and fuzzy and Harper’s blue colours are evil. And, thanks to such rhetoric, many of us will just run to something more interesting than the bickering of this pair. No, Jack Layton, that doesn’t mean you.


Our nation’s politics are boring. Our two leading politicians, and the parties they lead, are so similar they would each slap you for suggesting they’re alike. Even worse, our politics have become clannish to the point where many of us don’t recognize ourselves in our Members of Parliament or our interests in their debates in Ottawa. Were many constituents in Northumberland-Quinte West really clamouring to see the detailed outline of the Conservatives’ federal crime bill? No, but the failure to disclose costs related to that bill is part of the reason the Harper government was declared in contempt of Parliament, sending millions to the polls for the third time in five years.


This election isn’t about that bill, of course, or a budget (which was immanently passable). It’s about gang warfare, the Parliament Hill way. That means lots of subterfuge and self-serving banter that does nothing to further the policy debate in our country or improve the well being of the poorest of us or the ability of the richest of us to expand upon success.

Not only is this about Liberal vs. Conservative, it’s Liberal vs. Liberal: Those who want Ignatieff out even if it means sticking taxpayers with a bill of $300 million (what the 2008 election cost) pitted against those Ignatieff supporters, a dwindling number who stand by him for who-knows-what reason. It’s also about Harper sensing opportunity, both for a political kill and to exercise the most contemptible aspect of his personality: a vindictiveness that alone scares me away from siding with him. But about 5 million of the 13 million or so who will vote will put a check beside a Conservative Party candidate.

So, two days after he celebrates his 52nd birthday, Harper could be prime minister with a majority mandate and potentially five more years in office. I won’t vote for that election result, but I would bet on it and, if that becomes the case, Canada won’t be significantly different on May 3 than it is today, and that’s neither good nor bad. It’s okay.


Harper’s right, we don’t need an election. What we need is a politician to energize us, to motivate us to secure the health of the environment and help us capitalize on our abundance of resources to realize fantastic economic prosperity in this century. Sadly, he’s not such a force, and neither are the alternatives.

Someday, we might uncover our next great leader. When you think it’s happened, nudge me. I’ll stay happily disinterested in our national parties until then.

More 2011 Canadian Election News

Why aren’t you voting? Or are you? Share your thoughts on the 2011 Canadian federal election results.


28 Comments to “2011 Canadian Election: Why I won’t vote on May 2”

  1. A Conservative insider neighbour recently said to me, “I would LOVE to see a Conservative majority. When Stephen Harper gets his majority government, you won’t RECOGNIZE this country” !!
    I love Canada, and do not want to live in Harperland. I am not willing to let others make the decision for me, so WILL be sending in my absentee ballot.
    If you really want to scare yourself, google “Charles McVety,” Mr. Harper’s favourite pastor and religious mentor (per your colleague, Katie Mallick.) When Mr. Harper tells the party faithfull, “I haven’t forgotten why you put me here and the values we share,” it certainly sends chills down MY spine!
    Actually, you do surprise me. I find THIS election to be the most energizing in years. Watching Mr. Harper on CPAC is absolutely rivetting: he is really going for broke this time: No Holds barred; few Biblical Commandments left unbroken!
    My insider friend also pointed out that if the result is another minority, Stephen Harper will be replaced. I guess that’s why he is fighting like a cornered, rabid raccoon. And that is Change that even I can believe in!

  2. P.S. Are you aware that when someone googles, “How can I vote in the Canadian election by absentee ballot?”, your discouraging blog is the third item on the list? and the first one I opened as it appeared to answer my question.
    I hope you would agree that that is not a very helpful contribution to the health of our country. AW

    RESPONSE: Not at all. It’s likely less people will go to the polls than those who do not. This article might answer the question of why. That shouldn’t be discouraging, it should lend insight into the reasons for the perceived apathy among voters. We’re not apathetic, we’re disillusioned by an uninspiring cast of national leaders.

  3. I was looking on Google for the exact date of the election and I found your blog. Regardless of what your view of the back alley politicking on Parliament Hill is – it is your responsibility to your nation to vote when called upon to do so. Period.

    RESPONSE: I feel it’s a right to vote and that right should be exercised responsibly. If in a citizen’s judgment there isn’t a candidate who’s done enough to earn that vote, then it shouldn’t be given away. We have a right to abstain. Voting should be exciting. We shouldn’t feel a sense of defeat when doing it, nor should we feel cornered into casting a ballot.

  4. Even though you’re not a big fan of the options available, it would appear as though you certainly are more afraid of some (Harper: you mentioned his vindictiveness which scares you away from siding with him). That’s certainly enough cause to vote, don’t you think? You’re not quite sure who you WANT, but you do seem to have a slew of reasons why you DON’T want someone else.

    Either way, finding our politics boring isn’t a good reason not to vote. This isn’t a movie or a sports game. Your criteria (exciting vs. boring) doesn’t really apply here.
    I agree with Audrey. This might be boring and you might not want to spend every day, in and out, following it voraciously. But either way, whether it’s boring or not, it certainly is relevant. It’s the next few years of your life, which in turn will set the stage for all the years thereafter. Elections happen because change is possible. You seem to suggest that in this case, change isn’t possible. That on May 3rd, no matter what happens, Canada will be more or less the same than it was before. I disagree.

    RESPONSE: Thanks for the note. Many Canadians were very scared of what a Stephen Harper-led government might do. We’ve had five years of him in power and, you know what?, the results are far from the apocalyptic notions many feared. We weathered the recession better than just about any other country and you can’t deny the Conservatives at least a modicum of credit for that performance. I still won’t vote Conservative because Harper isn’t an inspiring politician and his way of governing too often resembles how Republicans rule in the States. Ignatieff also scares me, in part because of how he was hoisted to power by less than 2 percent of the Liberal Party and in part because his platform isn’t more than anti-Harper rhetoric and impossible-to-deliver campaign promises. Voting should be exciting. Our politics and our politicians should be exciting. Right now, they’re not, and we’re steamrolling toward another Conservative minority government. From my point of view, not being emotionally invested in this outcome is healthier than rooting hard for someone who’s only going to disappoint.

    • “We’ve had five years of him in power and, you know what?, the results are far from the apocalyptic notions many feared.”

      5 years of *minority* power,with Harper not daring to pursue his base’s agenda for fear of scaring Canada off from giving him just a few more seats. Give him a majority, and damage will be done. He’s smart enough to keep the status quo until his gets a majority, because, lucky for Canada, the status quo ain’t too bad.

  5. I’m probably going to vote anyway, but I think you cut through the hysteria and hypocrisy quite well. Good blog entry!

  6. I am voting. It is my democratic right. As a woman, there are many countries in which I could not exercise my vote.
    While this election is ridiculous, a message must be sent across to those who would gamble with our money, essentially with the $300 million this election will cost us. Harper gambles his minority, and the privilege and power that he won, with a majority, with our economy and the direction this country is taking. I think I will be voting strategically.
    I am so very angry with the finger pointing and the recriminations. The attack ads are abhorrent. The game they play must stop.
    We need a balanced plan for this country. We need politicians who respect the people. the animals, the environment. We need to look after those unable to look after themselves. This country isn’t broken, but it is bruised.

    Yes, I am voting.

  7. I was looking at your blog and I think that you have a very valid reason to not vote for Iggy or Harper. There are other options though. I am running for MP in Vancouver Centre for the Pirate Party of Canada, and I feel that I have issues that need to be brought to light (such as social issues and internet protection) that are very important. If you don’t want the current people, we have plenty of third party options who would love your vote.

    Having a collection of “single issue” parties would actually be better than having just a few big parties that think they have the answers to everything. We will be able to speak on our issues, then come together and have a reasonable discussion on other issues. That sounds much more democratic to me.

  8. Why not refuse your ballot? This way you are at least decisively showing that you are not happy with any of your choices.

    RESPONSE: Good idea. I would do just that, except I will be out of the country on Election Day.

  9. I’ve tuned out. Every time I turn on the TV or radio the politicians say or do something that turns me off them even more – it’s reached the point where I can’t bear to even listen to them. I don’t believe a word any of them say, and the idea that any of them represents my interests is laughable. As far as I’m concerned there is not a single person in this race worth taking the 10 minutes to go vote for. This is not an issue of Conservatives vs. Liberals or socialists vs. capitalists, this is an issue of them (the politicians) against us (the people). I’ll vote with my silence – that deafening silence of a population revolted by the sleeze, corruption and waste that is Ottawa. All my voting will do is encourage the scumbags and legitimize a system that failed to represent Canadians like me long, long ago. Time for 21st century direct democracy perhaps? Or maybe just time for Western Canada to break away and form our own nation.

  10. The problem with statements like “I’ll vote with my silence” and saying that by not voting, one is taking a stance and sending a message to the system is simple. Could this statement be used by all? Certainly. Everyone has the right to say “I’ll vote with my silence”. You cannot tell some they can say that but not others. So, hypothetically, if everyone said or thought what you say and think (“I won’t vote”), no one would vote and we wouldn’t even have a democracy. In which case you might not be allowed to blog about things you don’t like about Harper or Ignatieff.

    The argument that “I’m not going to go to the polls because there isn’t any one politician that deserves my vote” has also been used time and time again, but is still not an argument that stands up to scrutiny. As others have pointed out, even in the best of democracies, there are times when you don’t go out to vote for the leader that you truly want to run your country, you vote for the “lesser of the evils” and the leader you least are scared of to run your country. It is a sad reality, but it is reality.

    RESPONSE: There’s no doom-to-democracy scenario on the horizon in this election. If there was, it would be interesting and engaging. But this election is about politicians’ egos, not Canadians’ best interests. If no one voted in this election we would return a minority Conservative Party to power in Ottawa and if we have a turnout similar to the previous three elections, it looks like we will also return a minority Conservative government to power. This time, there’s nothing wrong with staying on the sidelines, I think.

  11. Love your comment: “Someday, we might uncover our next great leader. When you think it’s happened, nudge me. I’ll stay happily disinterested in our national parties until then.” I think that sums it up for 42% of Canadians in the 2008 election who didn’t vote, and could perhaps prove to more on May 2nd. I know it certainly sums it up for me, and I was the one who was upset when they called another unnecessary expensive election and was urging people via facebook and twitter to get involved and get out and vote.
    How sad….
    I will use that quote, and ensure your name is beside it, if I may?

    RESPONSE: Sure. Use away! Thanks.

  12. I wish you would vote.

    My grandfather (who has since shuffled off this mortal coil), who used to run for the Labour Party in England (Labour before Blair!) said that “If you don’t vote, they’ll take it away from you”. Funny? What have they done to anyone black in America?

    Seriously, you have to vote, it’s your Athenian / Canadian duty of citizenship.

  13. Would it be a a show of dissatisfaction by spoiling your ballot instead of not voting? I feel that it is my duty to vote, but I truly have no idea for whom to vote for. What do you think?

    RESPONSE: I think if enough people spoiled their ballot then it would send a message this time. It has to be in big enough numbers to get media attention, though. So your show of outrage may not do much more than give you a sense of satisfaction (which is fine). Bottom line is, Canadians want someone to vote for and the options just aren’t there.

  14. Start it up on Facebook…It worked in Egypt. I’m too chicken

  15. You need to vote. Plain and simple. If I were ever to be in power I would create some kind of incentive to vote. Maybe in the form of a tax credit or break, or possibly something more drastic. I know that it may not be a democratic idea, but Ottowa is broken because of our apathy.
    Look at Harper. He feels he can withhold information from parliament. Why? Because we, as voters refuse to speak up about such atrocities.
    I completely agree with everyone who says they won’t vote because they don’t like their options. That means that you need to look to th other options! We could help spread out the balance of power in Ottowa. There are more than 3 choices in this election (ok. 4 if you count he-who-shall-not-be-named country wrecker). Make it known that we don’t support these guys by taking away some o their seats. I wouldn’t want them in power, but i may well vote green just so they can grow and spread a few different opinions. I think that’s better way to go.
    Either way, I have not missed a single vote since i have been of age, and i don’t plan to start now. Not liking any options is NO excuse.

  16. The people that don’t vote are not doing their young ones any good or yourself, as some day we will be in a dictatorship just like what is going on in other countries today. So stop and take a look around you, you might be surprised at what you see, so no matter what you do for the better or the worse, you should make an effort to vote.

  17. CHANGE YOUR ARTICLE TITLE AND META-TAGS NOW !!!!!! We need voters like never before.

    RESPONSE: Whoa. That’s hysteria – and also a jab at free speech.

  18. A Harper majority won’t make any difference?!?! Have you seen what he did with a minority? The reason that the Conservatives engage in hate speech and negativity is to discourage people from voting. By choosing not to vote, you’re allowing yourself to be manipulated by an egomaniacal control freak. I say stand up to these schmucks! Look beyond the Liberals and Conservatives and vote for something positive that you might actually believe in. If enough people vote for one of the other parties (Green Party for example), we might actually encourage the other parties to pick up some of their policies and make the country and the world a better place. If this election is uninteresting, it’s because you’re wasting your time listening only to the tired old parties.

    RESPONSE: These are some of the things the Harper Conservatives have done with a minority: Introduced the tax-free savings account that’s a thing of beauty if you’re taking advantage of it; created a bilateral trade agreement with India that’s forward-thinking; signed the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement; added an organized-crime measure to the Criminal Code, making the penalty for a mob-related murder 25 years without parole; passed legislation that allows judges to stop early parole for murderers; and spearheaded the global maternal health initiative. Love your passion, Amanda, but I still think this election is about two guys who’re very much alike wanting to get rid of the other, and not about the nation’s health. And when we came out in decent numbers in the ’80s and ’90s we ended up with two of the most corrupt governments in Canadian history. Some of the small parties are doing good work; I’ll have a report on at least one of them soon.

  19. You could always move to country where you don’t have the right to vote, but here in Canada, the political parties are subject to our votes, and we want to keep it that way. And you never gave 5 reasons not to vote for the Greens or the Bloc, so maybe you should look into those as your choices.

    RESPONSE: Thought we might get through this without someone choosing to roll with the move-to-another-country cliche. Alas, not the case. Thanks for the response, though. I will have 5 reasons not to vote for the Greens in coming days. What’s that other party you mention?

  20. First off, thank you for your blog; at least you are inviting discussion.

    I have to say your thought process is a bit off; certainly, you are entitled to your opinion, and if you don’t want to vote, that’s your business, but maybe you need to rethink your reasoning.

    First of all, we don’t vote for leaders in Canada. We vote for MP’s, who in turn support a particular leader. The leader supports a particular view of the universe, (as articulated or not) by the party.

    This view of the universe is incredibly important. Harper’s view is that the most important thing in the country is the economy and that wealthy corporations and wealthy individuals create that economy. What’s good for the rich is good for everyone. I would argue that this is entirely wrong. There is no evidence that wealthy people and individuals create the economy anymore than small, independent businesses do. Trickle-down economics did not work as promised by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, and it will not work in Canada. Money and self-interest seek to preserve advantage, and nothing more. The actual statistics are that the average Canadian is working more hours than they did in 1980, and making the same amount of money. Zero growth for harder labour. And yet the GNP is up. What does that mean? It means that all the wealth that has been generated in the past 30 years has gone to wealthy corporations and individuals that already make many times the national average income. 70% of the country is doing only as well as they did 30 years ago or WORSE. Add to that the fact that 30 years ago we had properly funded Health Care and schools. Now we don’t. Now our schools and hospitals generate funding by preying on those with gambling addictions, via the provincial gambling monopolies! Nice values exhibited there. The GST, while an efficient consumption tax, basically screwed over anyone living near the poverty line. Meanwhile the corporate and personal tax rates for corporations and the wealthy have fallen by ridiculous amounts.
    Where do you think that money goes? It does not go to creating jobs in Canada. It sits in offshore tax havens. The top 80% of the capital in this country is controlled by only 30% of the people, and yet that money is not getting taxed. That’s why we have structural deficits.

    Furthermore, Harper’s Conservatives have nothing to do with the financial framework that saved this country from the global meltdown. NOTHING! The policies that prevented the banks and financial institutions from getting mired in the glut of greed were in place for decades. Furthermore, and nobody even talks about this, is that Harper’s bunch gave the banks $80 billion dollars via the CMHC; thought bought all that bad debt from the banks and took it off their books. Guess what? That’s 10% of the 800 billion that the Americans used to bail out their banks, and Canada is 10% of the size of the American marketplace. And they gave exactly 10% of the amount in loan guarantees etc., to the car manufacturers. So, with the exception of the assholes at Goldman-Sachs, Merrill -Lynch, etc.. that burdened the American administration, our bailout package was similar. Nobody mentions this. Instead, we get the claptrap that Harper has “steered with a steady hand”!

    Your tax-free savings account is a joke. First of all, most Canadians can barely afford their daily expenses and they aren’t saving at all. Which means the only people benefitting, once again, are the wealthier amongst us. Second of all, even if you max out your tax-free account, $5000 at current interest rates of 2% = a whopping $100 per year of interest. And the tax rates sit at about 25% for the top income earners. So, that means, because the account is tax free, that wealthy people save $25/year. This is great why? Tax cuts to wealthy earners and corporations are worth getting rid of national health care, polluting the environment, cutting services to women, cutting funding to organizations that actually deliver aid overseas, cutting funding to the Canada Council, the CBC?

    If you don’t think the government delivers any services, then clearly you aren’t old enough to have lived in the country when things were actually balanced and there was such thing as a public good! Government services are paid for through tax dollars. No taxes = no services. The middle class doesn’t control any more money than they need to get by, and the lower classes have even less. All the money is with the wealthy; if you don’t tax them, you have no revenue.

    The Neo-Cons, including Paul Martin have lied to us for more than 30 years, and given all of the gains we made in the post war period to a tiny cabal of powerful elites.

    Second of all, Harper is a religious wing-nut. He and the others in his party do not believe in global climate change, but they do believe that dinosaurs and humans played together as children, maybe 6000 years ago, because that’s how old the planet is! They did not initiate the global maternal health initiative; they participated in it, along with many other countries, and they HAMPERED the process by rejecting any funding to do with abortions. They don’t believe in abortion, so they won’t fund it, even in countries where rape is rampant and “corrective” rape is sanctioned! This is sick, and you cheer them on for that?

    Thirdly, Stephen Harper does not believe in Democracy one little bit. In fact, like most religious zealots, he’s likely in favour of a top-down approach; God commands (and of course he and his priests all KNOW what God commands because they communicate directly with him/her/it), and those commands are executed by those with the God-given right and might to command. Make no mistake, in their world might makes right.

    If you think that Democracy means that your opinion and vote should be worth the same as my opinion and vote, which should be worth the same as Mr. Harper’s, you would be sadly mistaken to believe that Canada lives in a Democracy. If you have a Democracy, then all views are being heard and judged equally at the table. In Canada, we only hear the views of those with the money to promote them and control them.
    If you think corporations should have the same rights as people, and should be able to buy our politicans, then by all means vote Stephen Harper; he will repeal the federal funding for parties based on the popular vote, leaving smaller voices and newer ideas to the dustbin, and he will allow unions and corporations to donate as much money as they want to elections and candidates, as they do in the USA. That would be the biggest travesty of Democracy to date!

    Since when should 30% of the country dictate to the other 70% what to do? Why is a coalition of parties that represent 66% of the country illegitimate if they choose to work together, which is how parliament is supposed to function?

    If you agree that power corrupts and that money = power, then those with the most money are also very likely the most corrupt. If you agree that money = power and that Democracy = equal power given to everyone, then in order for Democracy to exist, money must be redistributed until nobody is more wealthy than their neighbour, and hence carries no more clout. The reality is that we can’t simply take money away from some people and just give it to poor people. Instead, money gets redistributed by the tax system and directed towards programs that represent the values of most people, like health care and education, and infrastructure, and the environment, and climate change. That’s another reason that taxes are so important! The people and corporations that benefit most through our very unequal capitalist system should be paying for the majority that don’t benefit at all, because they have benefitted, and can afford to do so without reducing their quality of life.

    Of course, you might believe that wealthy corporations and individuals know what’s best for all of us, and should rule by decree. That is the result in the United States, that pinnacle of Democracy.

    I could go on all day, obviously. Suffice it to say, I believe in a country where if you get hurt or sick, you can get help; where nobody is going without food or shelter; where clean air, water, and soil are not sacrificed to the dollar; where Democracy and transparent discussion is the norm; where women are treated as equals; where education is afforded to all who want to study. This used to be case in Canada, but all of these facets have been eroded over the past 30 years. I feel very sorry for my children and their children, when they have them.

    RESPONSE: Thanks for the essay, Bill. We could parse this through a while, but just to pick on one topic: The tax-free savings account. It works like this: You can put in $5K for each year it’s been existence, which is now three years. So everyone who hasn’t opened a TFSA yet can put in $15K, from that $15K you can then trade stocks, bonds, etc., and all of the profit you make is tax free. So you can double, triple, quadruple your money, withdraw it and not pay any tax. And then you are also eligible to put all of that money that you’ve withdrawn back in. Thing of beauty.

  21. I am not voting either. Google: Harper delivers his plan of, Global Governance for Canada. Everyone present were shocked by Harper’s speech. He said Global Governance has been worked on since 1945. This was right after, Hitler’s plan for a thousand year Reich, which would have, also governed the entire globe. Layton capitulated to Harper, to give these huge greedy corporations, ANOTHER tax reduction. Both Layton and Ignatieff, want to keep the HST, which was designed for big business, and we were FORCED into the HST, here in BC.

    Banks, mines, large corporations, gas and oil company’s, are given billions of our tax dollars, they already get huge tax reductions. While watching the House of Commons TV channel, that motion passed, by the ENTIRE House. Now they just got another reduction, which will come off Canadians paychecks. Ask yourself, why are, our government bodies giving, the wealthiest giant outfits in the world, our tax dollars? Have you not noticed, Harper has said nothing about his Global Governance plot? Have you noticed, none of the opposition, has protested Harper’s scheme? They have all gone along with, thieving from the citizens, to give to these greedy corporations.

    Our Constitution, is ignored. Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken away from us. We are dictated to, and FORCED to pay, asinine and unfair taxes. Democracy and Freedom, that has been buried under a ton of dirt.and corruption.

    Unfortunately, millions of Canadians, don’t have 5K to invest in tax free accounts. Low income people and seniors, can’t even afford to buy meat for their families. There has been a sharp rise, in seniors using the food banks too. My pension was very good 15 years ago, however, I have had to sell my car, and cut down on heat, hydro and food. It doesn’t matter which party gets in office, the results will be the same. Corruption, greed and big company’s are what governs. Politicians are merely mouthpieces, for the wealthy outfits, who really call all of the shots.

  22. It’s simple: If you’re dumb enough to vote; you’re dumb enough to believe politicians.

  23. Hi, I’m sure your position in this matter represents a significant amount of Canadians, which is quite tragic. I think your reasons are not very convincing. Basically you say that because Canadian politics are “boring” and all the parties are pretty much equally bad, you have no incentive to do vote. You do realize that the whole point of election is so you can have your say in the matters of the country, and you shouldn’t hold the “boring” politicians liable for discouraging you. You are not voting not because you are trying to make a statement, but rather you really cannot be bothered, which undermines the basis of democracy. In fact, it is probably lazy (by lazy I mean you don’t try very hard to differentiate between the parties and make the most rational decision based on what choices we have) people like you who have degraded the importance of democracy on our country. It’s your own fault that you don’t look for ways to be informed so you can make a good choice, your article just seems to put blame on our not-so-perfect political strategies (which again can probably be partially traced back to discouraged citizens not voting). With all that being said, I’m curious to see what you have to say about what I said, please correct me if I misunderstood you in any way.

    RESPONSE: Mandy, first, thanks for taking the time to write. Second, ask everyone you know, if voting is so crucial, why did Michael Ignatieff fail to show up for 182 of 311 votes during this Parliament? Third, this article was written on March 26, right when the election was announced, and it was an initial reaction to that news (as you can tell if you’ve read the other election-related articles here, I am engaged in the election; I’m a journalist and can’t help but be sucked in). Fourth, I think you pick on the word “boring” possibly because it’s the easiest one to argue against. Canadian politics are boring at the moment, but that’s not the primary (or secondary or tertiary) reason why I’m not voting. Some elections matter (the 1988 Mulroney free-trade referendum) and some are just a matter of politicians bringing their in-fighting out of the House of Commons and into our lives. Canadians didn’t clamour for an election. We’re just getting out of the recession, many people are just now getting back to full-time work and we don’t need this. Also, as I’ve pointed out before, when we did come out in decent numbers to the polls in the ’80s and ’90s, we ended up with two of the most corrupt governments in Canadian history, and in that time Members of Parliament have voted to increase their salaries to $157,738 each (with a $25,500 expense account) and this election is going to cost us another $300 million. Blame the politicians for making us disillusioned, not us for becoming so. Canada isn’t going to collapse if you don’t vote. We’re not going to become a military state under a Liberal or Conservative majority. In fact, if only the people who were affiliated with a party voted in this election, I’d bet we’d end up with a real shake-up in the House; probably with three or four Green candidates and maybe one member of a fringe party getting in from some small riding. This election is not only absent of serious nation-changing issues (such as free trade or Quebec sovereignty), it’s also void of inspiring leaders. I think most of us would get excited if we had someone guaranteeing they would fix healthcare by the end of the decade or urging us to build a high-speed rail network across the country within 15 years. We don’t have that. What we have is Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. We’re going to return the same players to the same roles and why on earth would we expect a different result? Really, this one time, it’s okay to step back and watch on the sideline as their feud plays out.

  24. I stumbled on your blog when I typed into my search box how to declare a “no vote”. I have read through the other posts, but I see no mention of proportional representation. Almost fifty years ago I was naive idealistic person who believed that everyone should vote, and so as I worked as an outside scrutineer before I was even old enough to vote, I called my party’s office to give rides to anyone who wanted to vote. This year I have decided I will not vote. I can no longer be a part of this fiasco called a democracy. My only way to protest is not to vote. Do not give me that lame story that every vote counts. Elizabeth May and the Green Party received I believe 9 % of the popular vote last time. That suggests to me that one in ten people who voted were concerned about the environment. Harper only got 26% of the vote. Now he has the audacity to say he received the most votes and thus entitlement to do whatever. His whatever has made us the laughing stock of the world when it comes to environmental issues.
    In the last 49 years, I have voted in every election and actively worked in many of them. I am not apathetic. I read, I listen, and do not vote because some candidate has a nice smile or holds babies, but because their ideas address my concerns. I am tired of being treated like a mushroom…kept in the dark and fed a lot of shit. My sense of alienation has been growing dramatically to the point that I am prepared to turn my back on my beliefs and protest with the only option left for me. Yet one faint hope lingers. Maybe so many people will also choose not to vote that something will be done to rectify this imbalance.

    RESPONSE: Well said, Gail! You put words to the feelings a lot of people are carrying around. Thanks for giving them a voice!

  25. You and a lot of responders are not voting; good for you and them, as you fulfill your duty to make an informed decision. But the key is *informed decision*! Your message, and everyone on your side, is saying “This election is not worth voting for.” However, your statistic on dropping voter turnout and pessimistic outlook on future leader potential implies to the reader the message: “…elections in the future are also not worth voting for.” That is a message discouraging your readers to be informed about issues in the future, and even worse, implying that elections should be about charisma of the politicians.

    RESPONSE: Thanks for the thoughtful comment, James. I don’t know if I agree with you on the presence of that implication. This is the first election I won’t be voting in and I don’t want to make it a habit. Charisma is part of being a great leader. Intellect, humility, grace, ferocity when needed and the ability to inspire are also what I want to see. We’ve settled for less, I think, which is part of the reason we’re in this state, and why we seem doomed to return the same three leaders to the same roles they held on March 25.

  26. I read this after the election, but I want to comment anyways.

    If you don’t like any of the candidates, spoil your ballot. Don’t just sit at home, giving off the impression that you just can’t be bothered or don’t care. Go out to the polls, grab your ballot, and put a big X through all of the names. Then it’s not “voter apathy.” It’s “I don’t like any of the candidates, and I expect to see better next time.”

    Or, like one of the other commenters suggested, vote for a small party that supports an issue you’re interested in. Approx. 1 in 2 Canadians isn’t voting. If all of these voters tossed their ballots to the Greens, or the Pirate Party, or some other group, at least it might raise discussion about whatever their platform is. If the 1 in 2 non-voting Canadians all voted Green, then, in theory at least, the Greens would get a majority government. (Not guaranteed, of course, first-past-the-post is funny that way, but very possible.)

    The non-voting Canadians have huge potential to create change. And that’s what you want, right? If the parties are satisfied with voter-apathy, they have no incentive to change.

    Either find a candidate/party you like (even if they aren’t going to win), or send the message that you reject ALL the candidates/parties by spoiling your ballot.

    If you don’t vote, and then you find that you don’t like what the government is doing, remember that you helped put them in power by not saying anything when you had the chance. Apathy helps whoever is in power. Not voting is, in effect, voting for the status quo. Voting for fringe parties indicates that you do not support the status quo. Spoiling your ballot indicates frustration and rejection of all the options at hand. The first option leads to more of the same. If you’re not voting because you’re not happy with our electoral situation, you are making a mistake. Voting is the easiest way to instigate change. Maybe you don’t have time to campaign for what you want to see; the least you can do is vote for it–or vote against opposition to it.

    I hope non-voters will read this and reconsider their stance next time.

    RESPONSE: Well said. Spoiling the ballot would’ve been the way to go, but I was out of the country on Election Day and had work and family obligations that kept me from the polls on advance voting days. Given the election result, I think next time around we will have a stronger turnout for no other reason than the Liberals finally will remake themselves and hopefully offer us some compelling and visionary candidates.

  27. i wonder why i bother voting knowing full well that our votes are rigged (they all are everywhere in the world).
    the only slim chance a country has to make profound change (meaning profound political change) without taking an military coup in account is either at the eve of a massive uprising or after it. and it is not a given!
    and even revolution are planned carefully by people who want to stand on the next boat, not all aristocrats were killed during the french revolution some of the smart ones joined in and made it happen insuring themselves a good place in the new republic wich by the way lasted only 2 years and was quickly replace by an empire thanks to bonapart….. a very short dream!
    one good advice, stop any fear you might have ( they do cloud jugment) and start thinking about how your are to suvive in the coming (very bleak) future. don’t wait on the idea (the beautifull one) that people are gonna come together and put an end to this misery. that is why classes were created when civilisation began, to ensure that it will NEVER happen.
    start planning how your are gonna live in this chaos, surprise is definitly what you don’t need and don’t try anything by yourselves, that’s exactly what they are waiting for: getting rid of the strong willed people around the world so that all they are left with is the sheep! now that said if they come for you, try to take as many as you can with you…
    get familiar with the chaos wich we slowly sink into, how to work around or with it. you will be stronger for it.
    and much later when the time is ripe and chaos is rampant (and not before or i promise you, you’ll be swatted. keep analysing, stay sharp) we might actually create something out of all this mess.
    good luck to you all

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