October 19th was the first time I voted in a federal election.
Yes, I know. I can hear all your judgemental comments, exclamations, and questions. Yes, it should’ve been my 5th time voting in a federal election. And yes, last year was my first time voting in a provincial election.
Growing up, I don’t remember ever hearing about politics. And I wasn’t very good in Economics or History class in high school. My Economics teacher was amazing. He would make us take our notes quickly so he could show us slides from his travels — that was the first time I saw a toilet in Japan. My History teacher made us debate every class — I’m great at playing the devil’s advocate.
Being heavily involved in the church from childhood, I was taught to pray for the leaders of our country — whoever they were. I believed that God had ordained them for their position and there was nothing I could do about that. I’m not entirely sure if I was directly taught this or if this was how I translated “honour your leaders” in my head.
For the majority of my life, my world was pretty small. I talked about religion, culture, and love. All my conversations with my friends and family focused on ourselves and how we related to those three topics. I didn’t talk about taxes, the economy, or wars until I met people that weren’t in my small world: people that protested, advocated, and volunteered around the world. And I enjoyed talking about things that affected more than just me and learning about things that were bigger that my little circle of influence.
But I still didn’t vote.
And when you tell people you haven’t voted they always open with the fact that it is a right that many people are refused. As much as my heart goes out to those people that are denied the right to vote, that statement is not helping me. It’s like when I don’t finish my food and someone tells me that there are people starving in Africa. If I could mail them my food, I would, but unfortunately, I can’t.
The previous election, I tried to vote. I tried to Google information about candidates and see what differentiated them. I found nothing substantial. A lot of words that didn’t make any sense in the greater scheme of things.
I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes at me. That’s okay. But to support how silly the electoral campaigns are, I would like to share a story from a friend. With a passion for democracy and recycling, my friend went into a candidate’s office and asked them why they’re still covering every street pole with campaign signs. They said that there are still so many people that are not internet savvy and need the signs to know who the candidates are.
So we’re voting on who has a pretty face? Or who has a better graphic designer?!
I thought about using those two as a grounds for a voting candidate this year but neither candidates had both so I decided to Google.
I’m so thankful for those who have made politics more accessible to those of us who don’t have cable. I’m thankful for that quiz I took on Facebook that helped me to see what issues were important to me. I’m thankful for VICE who spends the whole year sharing Canadian issues colloquially so that people get it.
I commend the people in Canada who never missed the opportunity to vote. But for those of you who have, I understand. But being apathetic is no way to live your life and Google can help you not be ignorant forever.
On October 19th, I was excited to vote for Justin Trudeau. I knew why I was voting for him. I knew what he stood for and how I felt about those things. And yes, he’s young and sometimes he says ridiculous stuff, but I was excited!
Canada needed a change. We needed someone that was willing to acknowledge that Canada is made up of diverse cultures, races, genders, religions, and socio-economic statuses. Despite these differences, we all have the right to jobs, education, and clean water.
And yes, politicians make a lot of promises that may never come to fruition, but change brings hope.