Express your democratic right on Oct. 6
Consider the current political situation in the Middle East, marked by the uprising of the Arab Spring earlier this year. From Egypt to Libya, young citizens rose up against their dictatorial leaders, fighting for a transition to a democratic state where they could speak with their votes rather than violence.
On Oct. 6, Ontarians need not take the right to vote for granted. It is a freedom that people in other parts of our world would literally kill and die for. With that in mind, cast your ballot proudly, as a testament to the strength of the democratic process.
With Premier Dalton McGuinty having been in power for eight years already, it is understandable that voters may be unexcited about the prospect of renewing his mandate again. However, it is up to you to decide whether the policies he has enacted over two terms are worth validating with your vote.
On Sept. 28, The Cord endorsed McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party. Today, however, our message is this: regardless of your political views, the most important decision you can make on Oct. 6 is not what party you cast your ballot for but whether you cast a ballot at all.
Elections Ontario has reported that local advanced polling has increased over the 2007 election. In the Kitchener Centre riding, advanced voting is up 89 per cent and in Kitchener-Waterloo, it is up 45 per cent. Follow their lead and cast your vote on election day.
Only 53 per cent of Ontarians cast their ballots in the 2007 provincial election, a historic low. Political commentators, including Laurier political scientist Barry Kay, have suggested that voter turnout could be even lower in 2011, continuing a disturbing downward trend.
Excuses for non-voting have ranged from not having enough time to learn the platforms to being dissatisfied with the candidates. Yet, those who fail to cast a ballot should question whether they will have the legitimacy to question the decisions of the next government in regards to post-secondary education, health care and the environment.
Oct. 6 is your chance to speak your mind. After that, you have the right to criticize or praise the decisions of the party you have voted for. A vote on Oct. 6 is not a voice of unconditional support for the entire term but it is your initial step into the political process.
Democracy comes complete with both rights and responsibilities. Voting is one of your most important responsibilities. Do not take it lightly.
—The Cord Editorial Board