Is Canadian democracy threatened when few people vote?
Verdun citizens have a great opportunity to vote this week.
They can vote in a provincial representative who really knows how to get things done within the current party in power or they can choose someone who really understands Verdun well while giving the current party in power a wake-up call that change is needed now. If they choose the second option, they can choose a woman who understands politics well and left the current party in power because she doesn’t believe they’re ethical or they can choose a businessman who is campaigning about improving schools in Verdun.
Any of those choices will give us a well-rounded committed hard-working representative in the provincial legislature.
Unfortunately, if recent trends persist, most people won’t participate.
According to Quebec’s electoral body, the rate of participation in by-elections ranges from 18% in 2013 to a high of 81% in 1979. Most of the time, they hover among the 30% rate.
Isn’t that a problem for our democracy? I think it is, as do most politically active people.
That’s why so many of us have been working to inform Verdun citizens.
Most of the local candidates have been working hard to get out the vote. All of them have spent hours going door-to-door, standing at Metro stops and meeting with groups and individuals to make their message heard.
Monsignor Richard high school set up a debate and 325 students came out to hear the candidates speak.
One of the candidates organized a public debate at the Epiphanie Church on Wellington last week when he saw that there wasn’t one scheduled.
A municipal councillor and local parents invited candidates to present their messages individually to electors at a local coffee shop last Saturday.
Still, lots of my neighbours say they’re happy to let others make the choice for them.
That approach isn’t getting good results. According to various reports, Quebec has an unusually-high drop-out rate, the highest taxes, the highest migration rate and a “middle of the pack” score on health. Everyone knows how bad the roads are.
These are all issues handled by the provincial government and if we want these things to be improved, we had better make sure that the people who represent us are going to act.
That’s why I voted yesterday. Unfortunately, there were only five of us there.
Luckily, there’s still time.
The provincial election office has set up voting stations in homes, in senior centres and at public locations yesterday and today.
To learn more about the candidates vying for your vote, consider listening to the 20-minute interviews I did with each of the top three candidates for my new podcast. They are: Isabelle Melançon, Richard Langlais and Ginette Marotte.
If Verdun residents prefer, they can choose one of the single-issue candidates or candidates who represent the less-popular parties.
- Véronique Martineau, who lives and works in Verdun, is running for Québec solidaire which wants separation for Quebec but is more concerned about working conditions and social housing in this election.
- David Cox, for the Green Party of Québec, is focusing on the environment in this election. He lives in Pointe-aux-Trembles and is very concerned about the effect the refineries and the new incinerator have on Montrealers’ health.
- Frédéric Dénommé, who lives in Verdun, is running for Option nationale because he wants separation clearly on the table in this election.
- David Girard is running for the Équipe Adrien Pouliot – Parti conservateur du Québec, which wants to limit red tape for businesses.
- Sébastien Poirier is running for the Équipe autonomiste, which wants fewer social programs.
If you live in Verdun, I hope this information encourages you to get out there and vote on December 5.
If you don’t live in Verdun, but you live in Quebec, you can follow the Director General of Elections to make sure you know when the next election takes place where you live.
If you live somewhere else, consider finding and following your own appropriate non-partisan body in charge of elections. In fact, I’d love it if you could share them in the comments below so that everyone in your region can do the same.
About the Author
Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.