After some four weeks of official election promises, position and policy statements, accompanied by the now typical, yet lamentable attack ads, three days from now we get to exercise our franchise and elect the next provincial government of Ontario.
It blows my mind that in my glorious and free Canada, voter turnout is so abysmal; 68.5% voted in the last Federal election (the best turnout since 1993), 52.1% in the last provincial and roughly the same (or less!!) in the last municipal election. My Dad instilled in me very early on the importance of voting and the responsibility of every Canadian citizen to cast a ballot on election day, be it federal, provincial or municipal.
Many times I accompanied my Dad to the polling station, long before I was old enough to vote. I loved those walks with him. They took on the tone of a pilgrimage to a holy site. People there spoke in hushed tones, no jokes, no laughter, polite smiles only. I learned that voting was a solemn, serious thing. There was no question as to If one would vote, only for whom that ballot would be cast.
I never learned who Dad voted for, despite repeated efforts to get him to reveal his choice. Such inquiries were always met with a sermon about the secrecy of the ballot being a hallmark of a true democracy.
Back in the day, I'd watch Dad from my assigned place along the wall just inside the door of the polling station, which more often than not was in someone's home. A ballot in hand, or sometimes the ballots were already in the booth, he drew aside the curtain of the booth and stepped inside. Then he turned and with great care and deliberation slid it back in place, concealing his presence and vote. A minute or two later the curtain was swept back with a wee bit of a flourish as he emerged, then marched over to the grey metal ballot box and pushed his ballot through the slot. Two taps of his palm on the box assured, at least to him, that his vote was in. With glowing heart, the free man voted.
The polling station of the 21st century is a far cry from the neighbourhood living room my Dad knew, and it lacks much of the ritual that accompanied my father's experience. I just know he would scoff at the cardboard privacy shield set up on a table in a community centre. Still, come Thursday, I too will mark my X then stride over to the ballot box and push my ballot through the slot. I too will give the box two taps of my right hand.
We don't enjoy the same level of trust and respect in our politicians that my Dad enjoyed and that is a profound loss, but not only do we still get to speak freely about that, we get to vote. This democracy of ours is far from perfect but it sure beats the alternative.
I vote to honour all those thousands
who fought and died on faraway battlefields so that I might live in freedom.
I vote to honour the suffragettes
who argued in the high courts and chained themselves together so that I,
a woman might have the vote.
I vote to honour all those millions of men and women
who yearn to have the freedom I enjoy.
I vote, a free woman, a Canadian with a glowing heart.
Now here comes the rant:
I don't care if you don't like the choices on offer;
I don't care if you are fed up with politics and politicians;
I don't care if you just can't be bothered...
Voting is still a solemn, serious exercise of freedom, true democracy in action.
Voting is still a responsibility of citizenship.
If you are a Canadain citizen living in the province of Ontario and have not already cast a ballot at an advanced poll, on Thursday, please VOTE!
©2018 April Hoeller