Don’t be silenced – Vote!

My Opinion

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by Colin Creasey

Some friends of mine from the area where I had previously lived before moving to Kemptville dropped by to see me recently. They brought with them a copy of the local rag, the Caledon Citizen, which made interesting reading. Like Leeds-Grenville, the riding is also Conservative, and the local newspaper allows both the federal and provincial Member of Parliament a column in this paper.

It is the same old diatribe. The MP rants on about illegal immigration, but is unable or unwilling to propose a solution, and the MPP does nothing but praise the new leader for his plan that “will put money in the pockets of the average worker”. That is about all the Conservative party can talk about. Ever since Mike Harris, they all believe that the way to win an election is to cut taxes. The problem is that these so called giveaways are going to hurt the poor and the disadvantaged amongst us the most. So long as taxes are viewed as a burden, and not a way to a fair and just society, austerity will continue to blunt the political imagination, and limit our sense of what’s possible.

Why this Party can dump a reasonably good plan and accept a far worse alternative without a whimper strikes me as spineless. Maybe it’s because they think that everyone has bought the notion that Doug Ford understands the working man. Same thing that the Americans thought about Trump, and look how well that worked out.

I see now where Ford has decided to take his revenge on Toronto City council, by cutting their numbers in half. Harris did a similar thing in his “Common Sense” revolution, but he did it to the whole province by amalgamation, so we now have 4 councillors doing the work previously done by 12. As if this wasn’t bad enough, audits after the fact proved that no money was saved, yet Ford trumpets that it will save $25 million. Obviously, not a man who wants to let facts stand in the way of a political agenda.

However, I digress. What really struck me in the Caledon newspaper was an article entitled “Winds of Change only occur when votes are cast”. It was good to see someone agree in writing with much of what I have said in previous letters to this newspaper regarding the need to vote, and the reasons for doing it, even if you think that “your vote doesn’t count”.

Your vote represents your voice, and how you feel about your municipality, your province, or your country. It is a tool to transmit who you are, what you want, and what your values are. The article goes on to point out that, in many countries, people die trying to get what we take for granted, and, lest we forget, a lot of people died in two World Wars to preserve our way of life. This is part of why I vote in every election, to honour their memories.

The simple act of casting a vote makes someone part of Canada. Voting lets everyone know that you will not stand to be silenced. We cannot let power intimidate us from putting our voices out there. The act of voting shows that you are out there, watching and thinking, and the more of us who do that, the less those who get elected will be able to ride roughshod over us. A lot of what politicians do is because they think that they can get away with it. If they know that the electorate are watching, they might be a little more cautious in making promises that they can’t or won’t keep.

Of course, this problem could largely be resolved with proportional representation, which Trudeau promised, but didn’t deliver, not that that is unusual. There is a system out there called Single Member Party Proportional.(SMPP). It gives each member a proportional vote that aligns with the proportion of the vote that their party received in the election. Your party gets 40% of the vote in the election, then your party’s vote in parliament is worth 40%. No more getting absolute control with only 40% of the votes in an election.

This system has no impact on how our current system is organized, no changes to candidate selection, no changes to political boundaries. The only thing is to get a system that counts the votes in parliament, as no member will get a single vote, just a proportion thereof, according to the percentage their party received in the election. Politicians would need to talk across party lines to get legislation accomplished, which might only be difficult for the Conservative Party, which is so enamoured with the feeling that it is the only party with credible answers, that it believes that other points of view don’t matter. You just have to look at the Harper years to see that.

SMPP also might get more people out to vote if they can see that they will have an impact. Then we could see some real changes, rather than more of the same with one of the two parties that we keep electing.

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