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It’s incredibly easy to make an informed vote May 2nd.

In case you’re unaware, we’re having an election up here in the Great White North. Pretty well everyone I’ve talked to around these parts, however, doesn’t seem to care enough to actually vote. Or, alternately, they feel that they aren’t informed enough to make a proper decision. The funny thing is, with the internet, it’s never been easier — elections are no longer about whose commercials to trust, or worse, whose name you see most often on roadside signs.

If you’re like me, and you like being able to download a document and search for key words and phrases (e.g., science, climate change, agriculture, or taxes), the major political parties have all released platform documents for this election cycle, roughly ordered from right (small-C conservative) to left (small-L liberal):

Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)
Bloc Quebecois
Liberal Party
New Democratic Party (NDP)
Green Party

Or, you could take a visual “word cloud” tour of the platforms to see what words are mentioned the most in each. That’s an extraordinarily quick way to tour the parties’ priorities.

Something you might notice is that all these PDFs are English. That’s my preferred language, and the language I blog in, though the party websites have French versions of each if you care to seek them out.

If you’re not interested in slogging through several 200-page PDF files to search for specific topics (though, honestly, Ctrl-F in your PDF reader does NOT take that long to do!), you can always take a political quiz developed in and a mainstay of Europe’s electoral process, hosted at the CBC. It’s a very brief but surprisingly thorough overview of the parties’ platforms and, for a complete political novice, as long as you answer honestly, you’ll get an accurate assessment of the party that will most closely represent your political beliefs. It’s a damn sight better than not voting, or blindly voting for whomever someone suggests you vote for out of their own loyalties.

Believe me, you can skip whatever show you’re watching now — it’ll be in reruns soon enough. Or do it during a commercial while you’re watching the hockey game. You’re sure to be pelted with political advertisements anyway — might as well figure out which ones you like based on what they’re actually about, not what they say about each other!

You should already have your voter registration cards, if you’ve registered during a previous election cycle. If you haven’t, you can register at the polls, just bring appropriate ID. From Elections Canada:

Early Voting Opportunities for Electors

OTTAWA, Thursday, April 14, 2011

  • The federal election takes place on May 2, 2011, and Elections Canada offers electors many different ways and times to vote. With the potential for flooding in some parts of the country this spring, electors in certain communities may wish to plan ahead and vote early.
  • If you believe that election day will not be a convenient time for you to vote, you can vote early:
    • at advance polls on April 22 (Friday), April 23 (Saturday) or April 25 (Monday)
    • by mail or in person at any local Elections Canada office by special ballot anytime before election day (you need to be registered before 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26); to find the location of your local Elections Canada office, check our Web site or call 1-800-463-6868
  • To vote, you must be on the list of electors for the 41st general election. Any eligible elector not yet on the list can provide authorized identification and register prior to voting at advance polls, by special ballot or on election day.
  • More information is available at www.elections.ca in the “How do I vote – what are my options?” section or by calling 1-800-463-6868.

“We recognize that some Canadians may be unsure of whether voting on election day will be possible for them. It may be easier for some electors to plan ahead and cast their ballot early. Elections Canada wants to ensure that all electors are aware of their options when it comes to deciding when and how they will vote,” says Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Marc Mayrand.

Vote. Shape your world.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

Information:
Elections Canada Media Relations
1-877-877-9515
or at www.elections.ca

I know it might seem like a chore. But maintaining a functional democracy is a privilege, one that some other countries don’t enjoy. If you’d prefer living in a dictatorship, where you don’t have to worry about politics, then by all means move to Sudan or Libya. There you’ll just have to watch out for government men coming after you.

And of course, since I’m a blogger and I’m biased, I’d be remiss if I avoided opining. I won’t tell you who I’m voting for, but I can tell you for sure who and what I’m voting against. And I can tell you why I’ll never vote for the traditional recipient of “protest votes”.

Comments

  1. says

    I vote Green, and not as a protest vote. They’ve been building momentum year after year, and though there are things I don’t like about their platform – your link points out some of them – I like many of their ideas and think that once they have a sitting MP, it will be a tipping point in the next election to having more MPs and a real voice. That said, the NDP campaign has been impressive this year.

    I heartily agree with you Jason: get out and vote. I never miss it and I’m taking a day to work for Elections Canada this year myself.

    And one small thing, feel free to throw tomatoes. I don’t like the Conservatives, but I do kind of like some things Stephen Harper himself has done. I like how he views Canada on the world stage. I like that he was the only Commonwealth leader to rebuke the leader of Uganda about their horrid anti-gay laws. We need those new fighter jets. Protect the north. Etc. But I wouldn’t vote for the Conservatives.

  2. says

    As you already (I think?, You still read my blog?) know, I am a Green party voter. I have even volunteered time for them in the past. I do not consider it a protest vote, I honestly believe that a vote for the Green party is a vote for environmental responsibility. As I mention in my post on the election, I am going to have a Liberal MP at the end of this election regardless of where I park my vote. I agree wholeheartedly that in ridings where a Conservative might hold or win a seat, that people have a right to consider strategic voting. Many ridings in Nova Scotia have a strong NDP base, and I would certainly vote against a Conservative candidate.

    I still believe that your pet reasons for not voting Green are specious. Every party has a few policies that are unscientific and ridiculous. I agree that those opinions shouldn’t become official party platforms, but I don’t think the Greens are a Holistic medicine party, they are an environmental party with a cogent economic plan. I don’t think voting Green is supporting pseudo-science any more than I think an NDP vote is supporting a potential tax on MP3 players.

  3. says

    Glendon: if any party best represents wanton consumption of the planet(‘s resources), it’s the Conservatives, for sure.

    I’m not 100% on board with the “need” for F-35′s, but I’ll accept that some people know better than me on this. However, I definitely believe that they’re drastically underreporting the cost for the F-35s given this article. And since there was no actual bidding on them, there’s no chance of Canada getting a competitive rate on them to begin with. That’s graft along the same lines as the Liberal sponsorship scandal, only on a much larger scale — where $2mil got spent inappropriately (and a further 14mil on the commission!), here, we’re only losing tens of billions of dollars for no appreciable benefit.

    George, I read your blog post on the matter, and I linked James Carey to it on Facebook when he suggested that voting Liberal is voting for corruption and wanton spending. It’s good. And I’m not trying to detract from anyone’s reasoning for voting Green, but I really feel I can’t vote for them given the anti-scientific nonsense they peddle. Sure, getting a few of them in office would be great — then they couldn’t shut the Greens out of party debates, thus forcing the debates (and thus the party platforms) to actually include questions about and answers regarding climate change for once.

  4. Matthew says

    Sending single engined combat planes on frequent trips over a largely uninhabited and inhospitable country like Canada is asking for trouble. At least twin engined craft have a reasonable shot at making it back.

  5. says

    I accept your reasons, I just find them unfairly negative in comparison the platforms and past actions of other parties. May I remind you that the only two dissenting MPs during reading of Bill C-6 (Amendment to the Hazardous Products Act) that demanded protections for alternative medicine were Judy Wasylycia Leis (NDP-Winnipeg North) and Paul Szabo (Liberal-Missisauga North). Does this imply that the Conservatives deserve our votes for being rational on this bill?
    In 1999-2000, Allan Rock, then Minister of Health, and Sheila Copps lobbied their Liberal Government for 100 million dollars in financing to establish an alternative medicine institute to be part of McMaster University.
    That sounds like an official party stand to me….

  6. says

    However you vote, vote sanely. I would like to have at least one country on this crazy continent not dominated by either institutional corruption or teabagger craziness.

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