Sitting on your [Canadian] hands?

Posted 02.16.15

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | After several dinners with friends and family, I've noticed talk inevitably comes around to Canada 's federal election this year. The discussions are near identical. It seems the circles I travel in have little interest in seeing the present government re-elected.

Much of the discussion is actually a lot of carping about the retrograde and damaging actions of this government -- from its war-trumpeting and equally un-Canadian attack on scientific and social programs and to its cuts to marginal sectors of our economy and our people.

These acquaintances enthusiastically list the abuses inflicted upon our country by this government. With such unanimity, I expect to see the national polls reflecting this general disgust. But the polls disagree.

National polls show the government inching past the divided opposition. How can this be? Obviously, my friends, despite their agreement, are remarkably insulated from what motivates so many other Canadians.

But big polls can create their own reality -- and miss the boat entirely, as with three recent provincial elections. This could be because the pollsters use land-line phones, and many people do not. It may also be that the pollsters question all groups alike -- including younger and minority-group adults, who usually do not vote in big numbers.

That is why the robo-call scandal was so unsettling. The goal was to limit voting. But youth, First Nations, the poor, and some immigrant groups are self-limiting: they rarely vote.

Single-issue people, usually conservative, do vote -- and vote only on a couple of 'wedge issues' -- against abortion, about language, to support the Ukraine, or larger military budgets. Urban voters are more likely to vote than rural ones; older voters than younger. Hence, the polls which measure 'everyone' must be inaccurate -- they ignore these differences.

Plus, we do not vote for a leader -- which is what many polls measure --we vote only for one person to represent our one riding. We do not vote for a prime minister, as for a president.

So our dinner-party conversations are self-deceptive. We all rail how terrible so-and-so happens to be, and since we all agree, we blindly trust that the whole country thinks this way. And we get a bucket of cold water in the face on election night.

What should we do? It is clear we should do something. Sitting on our hands and complaining is a terrible option.

Informing ourselves and discussing the issues is a positive step. It 's also important to read the news and all media reports with a suspicious eye: the mainstream media has been purchased by corporate interests which, as we see in the States, have discovered that elections can be bought: huge contributions by the wealthy and a massive media smoke screen have pushed American elections off the rails of democracy. The same forces are up here and with the same agenda.

We should donate to our candidate or party. It 's painless. The tax laws make election contributions almost free -- a $400 donation costs you $100; tax credits give you the remainder. A $1200 donation is half-free.

LEADnow has a nation-wide strategic voting program, allowing us to influence the closest elections. Council of Canadians is asking everyone to recruit three 'new' voters. Google them!

Get involved. Your time and voice are better than money. Volunteer with the riding association of your choice -- pick a job. Your help can make a bigger difference than all the complaining in the world. Finally, be sure and vote; help others to the polls.

There 's lots we can each do -- besides complain.


Copyright © 2015 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/02.15