By Bob Groeneveld
There is an important federal election coming up.
Okay. Every federal election has been important.
But this one is easily the most important of all… because all the others are history. The one happening next month is a story that has yet to be told – and you get to be a part of telling it.
Some folks will claim that their one vote won’t make a difference anyway.
Once upon a time, a Liberal candidate won the NDP stronghold riding in which I lived by eight votes. When it was later determined that as many as 11 military personnel stationed in Germany “may have inadvertently” voted twice, due to the way absentee ballots were handled at the time, the whole result was thrown out.
The voter turnout in the subsequent by-election was dramatically higher, and the NDP candidate was handily returned to Ottawa.
It took being hit over the head with those eight votes for people – who were too certain that their candidate was a shoo-in – to realize how important their individual votes were.
Then there’s the argument that “politicians are all the same anyway.”
Well, they’re not. That’s just lazy.
You need to do a couple minutes of work to be a responsible citizen. Start at www.elections.ca. Type your postal code in under “My Voter Information.”
If there isn’t already, there will soon be plenty of information about each of your candidates readily available, including summaries and profiles through this newspaper.
There will be public forums where you can hear the candidates speak about who they are and what they stand for.
If you’ve already decided that you don’t like any of the major (or minor) parties and/or their leaders, then choose the local candidate who you can trust to represent your needs and the needs of your community.
Maybe it will be a politician who wouldn’t be afraid to stand against his/her party or leader – such creatures exist. Mark Warawa stood against his party a couple of times, as did former Langley MP’s Randy White and Val Meredith (Meredith to the point of stepping out of the party for a while).
Langley Progressive Conservative MP Bob Wenman brought a “right to die” bill to parliament – with massive local support but totally against his party’s wishes – a full two decades before death with dignity was finally recognized legally in this country.
What many Canadians don’t realize is that they do not vote for a prime minister, the way Americans vote for their president. We vote for local representatives, and it is they who select the prime minister.
And unlike American legislators, they can easily deselect their prime minister – and as John Diefenbaker learned in the 1950s/60s, the threat of that can make local representatives very powerful on your behalf.
If they have the courage to use the threat… and if you vote for courage instead of party lines.
But most of all, vote.