Get out and vote - do it for yourself
| Posted: Thursday, Apr 19, 2012 06:00 am
Itís a critically important time once again, the time when Albertans have the opportunity of choosing who will best represent their interests in the provincial legislature.
On Monday (April 23), the Rocky Mountain Outlook encourages all Valley residents to take advantage of the fact they have a say in how this province is governed Ė by getting out there and voting.
At the same time, Albertans who believe this province should have more say on a national level can vote for three senators-in-waiting Ė who may be chosen by the prime minister should a Senate seat need filling.
Itís been said many times, but we believe it bears repeating Ė in many countries around the world, people literally take their life in their hands simply by appearing at a voting booth. Yet they do it because they realize the importance of having a say in how their country is run Ė itís all about freedom of choice.
In Alberta, on the other hand, only 40 per cent of eligible voters took part in the last election. How embarrassing. Forty per cent? That means a provincial government was put in place to represent more than two million people by little more than one-third of the population.
One wonders how it is that only 40 per cent of a given population turns out to vote. Pretty much everybody gets time off work, voting doesnít take place during Stanley Cup playoff games, nobody is asked to cut a long weekend short to vote, voting isnít a strenuous event (you can drive to the polling stations), in small towns itís unlikely lineups at polling station will be around the blockÖ
When a mere 40 per cent turn out to vote, should we all assume, then, that the vast majority of Albertans are perfectly happy with the way the Progressive Conservatives have represented them over the past four decades? When you hear complaints raised at public forums, you realize thatís not the case.
The thing is, even if you are the staunchest possible supporter of a party in power, you should still get out and vote. After all, if you skipped voting in a given election and your party of choice was then ousted, how would you feel?
Things do change, though far less regularly here in Alberta than elsewhere in Canada. But look at the federal situation. Under Jack Laytonís guidance, his NDP took over as official opposition in parliament. Among those who perceive federal Liberals as a Ďnatural ruling partyí, the day after the last federal election must have been quite the political hangover.
We realize that here in Canada we havenít suffered under harsh dictatorships, or been subjected to Third World graft and strongman tactics, but seriously, shouldnít a person want to have a say in how their taxes are spent, for example?
The thing is, though, donít just go out and vote for the sake of voting. Donít just vote one way because you always have, or your family always has. Things change. Make an informed vote. Spend some time reading election coverage concerning local candidates in the Outlook (of course), read promotional materials generated by the parties, gain some perspective by following events in other news outlets.
In the end, at the risk of oversimplifying, if you donít get out and vote, you have no right to complain about how things are run afterward Ė and this is true at municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.