Canadians head to the polls May 2 for the fifth federal general election this century—more precisely, probably more than one-half of eligible voters will exercise their suffrage. The last election in 2008 was the first since confederation in which voter turnout dropped below 60 percent.
Voter participation in Canada has usually been greater than that of its American neighbour, but with the unusually interesting 2008 campaign in the United States, even the Americans had a better turnout.
Concern has risen over generally declining rates of voter participation in western democracies. Who is concerned? In most cases it appears to be the ruling elite. They may be concerned with propping up the image of democratic societies supported by the people.
Incidentally, it is interesting to observe that Canadian voter turnout has declined most precipitously since the advent of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. The Charter ushered in an era of official multiculturalism and an abrupt historical shift to a more centralized style of government administration.
Politics, one must admit is at least in a state of flux.
What is voting?
So what is voting all about anyway? Fundamentally, it represents a choice made by an individual citizen. It is one of the few remnants of the Age of Enlightenment that still promises some recognition of the sanctity of the individual.
Voting is a decision formally executed most often by secret ballot. The secrecy aspect is paramount to ensuring voters are not intimidated by competing pressure groups or leadership. Individuals can vote with their own conscience.
In many countries, the attitude among the elite seems to be that citizens have the right to vote and if necessary will be forced to exercise it. Compulsory voting is the practice in Australia and Belgium for example, and in approximately thirty other so-called democratic countries.
Voting is an Evolving Concept
The history of suffrage is an evolving one, or devolving perhaps, depending on your point of view. In Canada, voter information is available in 27 “heritage” and 11 “aboriginal” languages. Since 1987 the mentally ill and some prisoners can vote. Try to imagine how adding compulsory voting to this mix might work.
What ultimately matters are the alternatives from among which a choice is made. Are they moral or immoral ones?
A proper view of morality is life-affirming, recognizing that each individual has sovereignty over his person and property. He is not first and foremost a member of a tribe or ethnic group. He is not primarily of a particular nationality as a consequence of geographic coincidence. He is naturally free, entitled to adult parental protection and rational care until maturity, when he can function completely independently. This includes making choices about his central purpose in life and where he wants to live to pursue it.
Respect for such focus exercised toward an independent life is the locus of morality.
There is obviously no such recognition in any country—certainly not in collectivist Canada—of such a basis of morality. So, what to do? One does the best one can, like Vaclav Havel once stated, by living as though you were in a free country.
Canadian Political Platforms
Looking over the Canadian political parties, the only virtue among them is in one nail in an economic plank in the platform of the Conservatives and Stephen Harper. The central focus is tax reduction and reduced regulation. To be clear, there is much not to like in the platform, but this is the only coruscating element among the platforms of the major parties. All pay homage to the themes of environmentalism, universal health care and job creation arranged by government.
Every dollar in taxes sunk into these causes is gone forever as an exorbitant expense of society. Those entrepreneurial and worker dollars are forcibly taken from some and politically distributed by government to others.
So, independent thinking Canadians agonizingly contemplate a choice among alternatives. One is voting for a party representative who in some minor way offers a moral objective overwhelmed by collectivist claptrap. Another is spoiling the ballot, thus effectively choosing “none of the above”. Most likely, more than forty percent of Canadians will have other priorities taking precedence over voting on Monday, May 2, 2011.
©Copyright 2011 Edward Podritske