Opinion Column

Be an active member of democracy and vote

By Josh Aldrich, Camrose Canadian

Are you ready for another election? 

 

I can hear the buzz in the street, the excitement is palpable, time to get to the voting booths! WOOOOO! 

I wish this was the case. I really do. 

The free vote is at the foundation of our society. It is the most basic, yet most important part of our democracy and our way of life. 

Millions around the world have fought and died for this right, while there are still those who live in countries where the right to decide who will govern them is but a fantasy or a sham. 

This upcoming municipal election on Oct. 16 will potentially have more direct impact on you than an election at either the provincial or federal level. Unfortunately, while none of them receive a massive turnout, for some reason municipal elections generally have the lowest. 

The last municipal election was a strange one for Camrose. It had one of its highest number of candidates ever, but then bottomed out with just 33 per cent turnout. 

I can understand there being a bit of apathy among voters. We had just come through the 2012 provincial election and were already staring down mass dysfunction at that level. Federally, we had just run a gauntlet of four elections in nine years and were watching as political divides grew greatly. 

And to our south we had just come off two years of hard campaigning in the U.S. as Barack Obama won his second term. 

In the non-stop 24-hour news cycle, it was a bit of a political overload. 

There’s also general disinterest from the younger generation. This is not a Millennial issue, this is a historical issue. 

While Camrose’s double-the national rate of seniors should mean voter turnout should be high, the fact that returning officer Kim Isaac is increasing the number of mobile voting booths to senior facilities shows that senior mobility was an issue in the election. 

Camrose also has the double-edged sword of being a college town. In many areas, this is a great thing, but convincing several hundred already apathetic voters to get interested in the politics of a town they are temporarily visiting can be a hard sell. 

Still, I cannot stress this enough. Get involved. Get to know the different candidates, there are three mayoral nominations and 12 more to fill the eight seats on council. In the county, there are nine people who have thrown their hats into the ring to be councillors — five have already been elected by acclamation, but for those living in Wards 2 and 5, pay attention and get out to vote in four weeks. 

With a wife who is a teacher, I know there are few things that will get a parent’s hair up quicker than an education system they do not agree with. Voting for a trustee is the first step in changing a system you’re at odds with, and this time around it is even more important with the provincial Ministry of Education rewriting curriculum and policy — they are tapping local school boards for their insight. 

For those willing to stick their neck on the line, sacrifice time with the family or away from their business to be a part of this bedrock system of democracy, I take my hat off to you. Public service can often be a tireless and thankless venture, but if you want to effect change on your community, it can be the most effective way to do so. To be politically active on that level is a great responsibility. 

The old trope is if you don’t vote you can’t complain. That is a fallacy. People will complain regardless of whether they voted or not. It is Canada’s true national past time. But if you actually want a reason to stop complaining, here’s your chance to have a say in what the next four years of Camrose, Camrose County, Battle River School Division and Elk Island Catholic Schools will look like. 

Now get out and vote. In 25 days.  

jaldrich@postmedia.com



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