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Cast a vote for common good

By  Kathleena Henricus, Youth Speak News
  • May 18, 2022

Over the next 12 months, many Canadian provincial governments will be ousted or renewed as a series of regional elections kicks off beginning with the country’s most populous province Ontario on June 2. While not as flashy or media-crazed as a federal election, provincial decision days are vitally important as these legislatures control education, property rights and health care.

These elections will occur in increasingly politicized and polarized environments. Who we elect can drastically shift how we tackle a post-pandemic economy and society, who is protected and who is supported.

After finishing my first year as a political science student, this is the first year that I, alongside thousands of new voters, will get to cast a ballot in a provincial election. This past year I learned a lot about political theory and ideology and how to deduce what party platforms actually mean. Most importantly, I learned the importance of being an informed voter and how to spot politicians who seek to capitalize on societal complacency and ignorance.

Historically, there is a recipe for volatile, extreme and hierarchical politicians. These are politicians who impose their own beliefs on a whole population or make decisions catering to select stakeholders at the expense of other groups. These politicians place blame entirely, often unevidenced, on one group of people, and use fear, hatred or anger to justify what would otherwise be considered a dangerous, or at least pre-cursorily hazardous, decision. Politicians are charming, trained and well-spoken individuals, so it can be challenging to decipher what they truly stand for underneath the words of their speechwriters and staged events by their public relations advisors.

It may seem a little cautious, perhaps even paranoid, to treat each election with this level of thought, especially since a) we elect our representative from four long-standing parties, b) it is a provincial election and c) Canada does not have the same reputation as other countries for hyper-polarized politics. But the last two years have shown us how quickly circumstances can change, and how important it is that our elected officials be adaptable.

Policies are multifaceted and who we elect directly impacts who is represented, who is affected and can show us who is valued, even in seemingly indirect ways. For example, when some provinces made the decision to lift multiple lockdowns during some of the great peaks of COVID-19 infections, it showed that the profits to be made were considered more important than the lives of the people who lived there, especially older and immunocompromised individuals. Some argued these choices were necessary, but had we had a more comprehensive plan in place to support our economy in a crisis, the decision would never have been on the table.

This is why every election is critical. We need to elect forward-thinking individuals and those who plan for the unprecedented so there is never a choice between people or profits where profits win.

It is truly better to be over prepared and overly cautious of promises that seem a little off, or even too good to be true, than to stay complacent or to be merely an observer in the making of our futures.

Faith calls us to act and vote with compassion. To elect individuals who have not only our best interests but our neighbour’s best interests at heart and to defend those most unsupported and most ostracized by a government, a policy or a judicial system. This election season, remember to vote for someone who protects the autonomy and rights of all of the members of your riding, no matter how indirect their influence may seem to be. You never know who could make or break progress over the next four years or how quickly the tides can turn.

(Henricus, 18, completed her first year of studies at Western University in London, Ont.)

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