Written by: Tosin Ajogbeje.
What does voting mean to you? Does your voice really count? Does voting contribute to the strong functioning of our nation? Most people have their doubts when it comes to elections, with several assumptions about how voting and how elected politicians contribute to our society. From obtaining quality education, better health care services, to affordable housing, climate change, and equality for all, voting is an important way to chip in on issues that are important to you. It is also a very essential way to hold political leaders accountable for their decision-making processes. The Federal Elections are here again. Frequently held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the preceding Federal Election.
Now, Canadians are preparing themselves on Monday, October 21 to vote for the next Prime Minister. Specifically here in Ontario, the law requires voters to be 18 years old, a Canadian citizen and a resident of Ontario to be eligible to vote.
With all the rights and freedoms we appreciate today, it is easy to undermine the right to vote and how voting could help make a difference in our local communities.
Voting counts, and here’s why;
Voting enables you to dig into community activities and perspectives. Casting a relevant vote means doing research to make informed decisions about your opinions, having discussions about social issues affecting your local community, and Canada as a whole.
Generally Canadians, particularly College or University students, should vote for their future. Students represent a powerful political force. Students are often considered “the future” and could play an active role in selecting government leaders that pay attention to current social issues that affect them, including higher education costs, student loan polices, employment opportunities, equality and environmental issues. Taking the initiative to vote could sustain the health of the Canadian democracy for future generations.
There was a time when groups of people couldn’t vote, but with countless marches, speeches and petitions, a diverse number of people started to vote. For example, in 1917, British Columbia (BC) became the fourth province to allow women vote and run for provincial office as a result of numerous campaigns held during the “suffrage movement” to influence their nation. Voting is not a way of protesting, but a way to initiate “safe and civil” dialogue on issues that are important to you.
Voting acknowledges the importance of citizenship. You can choose your own government or party leader and representatives. Likewise, voting is a responsibility to the larger community of which you actively participate in. It is important to embrace a freedom that was inaccessible to other people years ago. Before proceeding to vote, do some research and identify what social issues and problems matter to you and your community.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE AND VOTE
Again, in order to vote in the Federal Election, you must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old on election day and prove your identity and address.
First off, you can register your voter information, and your name, at your assigned polling station or use the Online Voter Registration Service to print a registration certificate (to sign at your assigned polling station) on election day, October 21. The hours open to vote is 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the voting location assigned to you based on your current residential address. Once you arrive the voting location, you will be greeted by an election official who direct you to a desk and provide you with further details.
While we can’t predict where we will be in the next four years, one can be sure that political officials elected into office and the policies they implement will impact our lives in the upcoming months and years. Voting counts! We have the power to elect person(s) who can improve the social progress of people’s lives and local communities in Canada. Let your voices be heard because it matters.
For more information, visit https://www.elections.ca/home.aspx to find your electoral district including the list of candidates, voting locations, and the address of your local Elections Canada office.