Who cares?

There is something fundamentally wrong in this country. We used to be, not that long ago, a nation that believed in ourselves, in our future, in the promise of the next generation. What we are becoming…or some would argue, have become,  frightens me, angers me, and saddens me greatly. This Canada has degenerated into a country of indifference and to my ears the silence is deafening.

What began slowly as a gentle wave lapping on the shore of our consciousness, has become a tsunami of apathy.

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Government sticking it to the same people that put them there; our food less and less like food, and more and more like something a compound chemist might concoct.

Paying half of what you make to taxes, then seeing programs, services and infrastructure fall away, apart or removed, and wondering what the hell your hard earned money is being spent on?

Questioning if we really get anything for our property tax dollars?

Asking why our health care is falling apart when it used to be the envy of the world. Pills for everything you have, think you have, or may get one day, pushed on you because the doctors are so overworked, that a fifteen minute appointment can’t begin to provide any information and follow-up that might actually benefit you, or the overburdened system by prevention.

Shaking our heads at the price of an education, whether a plumber, a doctor or an engineer.

Sticker shock at the cost of things, including feeding our families and keeping a roof over our heads.

Embarrassment because our children won’t be able to play minor hockey this year because it has become a sport only the affluent can afford.

Our national parks, once treasured, are now being opened up to mining developments.

Our waterways, environmentally and navigationally protected by legislation since John A MacDonald, and enhanced under Brian Mulroney, have now been opened up for development, unless named in Schedule 2 of Bill C-45, recently brought into effect by the Harper government.

There are only 62 rivers and 92 lakes in the whole country on that schedule that are deemed exempt. This means more than 99.9% of all rivers and 99.7% of all of Canada’s lakes will be unprotected.Where I live, in the Northwest Territories, only three bodies of water are mentioned: The Great Slave Lake, Great Bear Lake, and the MacKenzie River. Even heritage rivers such as the Margaree in Nova Scotia, the Thelon in Nunavut, and the South Nahanni here in the Northwest Territories are now open season for developers.

THIS is Canada? It sure as hell doesn’t look like it from where I sit.

Who do I blame for the destruction, bit by bit, of all I hold dear about my country? Stephen Harper? Certainly! Jean Chretien? Absolutely! And the list goes on, and on. But more than the politicians, I hold responsible the people of Canada.

In the last federal election, voter turnout was just over 61%. Pathetic. In fact, since the decade between 1958 and 1968, when voter turnout was at nearly 80%, each year, with the single exception of a small increase in 2010 of 2-3%,  there has seen a steady decline in voter participation in federal elections.

There is a disease in this country called APATHY.  It is the biggest destroyer of dreams, ambition, empathy and fairness.

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Men and women DIED for us to have the right to a democratic society where we are able to vote without fear of retribution, intimidation, and yes, even death. Would that the rest of the world be so fortunate to have that luxury!

I get so pissed off with young people who can’t be bothered to get off of their asses to vote. They have never known what sacrifices were made on their behalf so that they could vote.

I get angrier still at people of my own generation, the baby boomers who know what it took to keep this country free, and yet still can’t be bothered to vote. They come up with every damned excuse in the book. “No one worth voting for”. “They’re all the same” “My vote won’t make a difference”. God damn it! That sorry ass attitude is destroying this country. Not only is it your right to cast your ballot, it is your damn duty for the price paid!

Have we forgotten that women in this country have only held the right to vote since 1918? And what of women in Quebec who didn’t receive full suffrage until 1940? And Aboriginal women in 1960? We cannot afford to have such short memories.

Compulsory Voting Map

Many countries have mandatory, or compulsory voting. It’s not necessarily a bad thing and as many proponents will argue, democracy is too important for voting to be optional. The case against apathy.

Dissenters will argue that compulsory voting is  a contradiction in terms. There are economic arguments on both sides: compulsory voting saves money in campaigns, because parties otherwise splurge vast amounts on “getting out the vote”. On the other hand, enforcing the law clogs up courts and keeps bureaucrats busy, at substantial cost. They will also argue that mandatory self determination can result in favouritism or support of more left leaning parties. History has shown this not to be necessary true.

Proponents will tell you that compulsory voting is the guarantee of democracy…not it’s opposite.

There are certainly ways we can make casting your ballot easier in Canada. Do elections really need to be held on weekdays? Why aren’t we doing more to work toward secure online and telephone voting? Mail in ballots?  Could it be that the party in power senses that making voting more accessible may be detrimental to their success?

Whatever side you take on this issue, we all have to play a roll in ensuring that democracy in Canada is not replaced by apathy…or worse. We cannot afford to sit back and wait for our neighbour to change things.

Vote

We will only change things by engaging. It is not politicians that will destroy this country. It is the apathy of our citizens. And while I may not agree with who you cast your ballot for, I will forever defend your right to choose. It is that very right that apathy may one day take away, for an X not cast, is indeed an X for the party you least want in power.

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