Thursday, August 20, 2015

Voting is the Greenest Thing

The Climate Crusader is working to green her vote.

Here in Canada a federal election was recently called. Things work differently here than in the US. Rather than having fixed election dates, the Prime Minister typically decides when to call an election. A law was passed in 2007 stating that elections would be held on the third Monday in October every four years, but they can be called sooner, as our last election was in 2011. That's an aside, though. My main point is that I'll be voting soon. And my feelings on the environment in general and climate change in particular will impact the decision I make in the polling booth.

Unfortunately, making a decision about who to vote for isn't always as straightforward as I would like. Some parties have a lot to say about the environment. Others have a lot to say about the economy. Others have a lot to say about the green economy. There's a lot of greenwashing and double-speak out there, and sometimes politicians change their positions to increase their chances of winning as a campaign rolls on.

In spite of the confusion I think it's extremely important to vote. As citizens of any country voting is our big chance to make our voices heard. This is the time lawmakers are paying the closest attention to us and what we want, because they can literally lose their jobs if they don't. So I do my best to research and ask questions and make my voice heard while I have the ears of my elected representatives. And I make sure they know I will show up at the polls so if they lose my vote it means that their opponent is gaining it.

Sometimes it feels like in spite of the time and effort we take as citizens to inform ourselves and vote, nothing changes. Election promises and positions change once someone's elected. Some lawmakers spend more time courting big donors than listening to the people they represent. And here in Canada our representatives are more or less forced to vote the party line regardless of how they feel. But I still think it matters, and I still believe we can make a difference, especially if more people show up to vote.

In the last federal election in Canada in 2011 had an official voter turnout of 61.1%. The popular vote went 39.6% to the Conservative Party, 30.6% to the NDP and 18.9% to the Liberals. But those popular voting percentages are based on the people who voted. The actual voting percentages are 38.9% - No Party, 24.4% - Conservative, 18.7% - NDP, 11.5% - Liberal.

If we do the same math for the last US presidential election in 2012 we get 41.8% - No One, 29.7% - Obama, 27.5% - Romney.

Here's my point: if the people who didn't vote got involved, asked questions, made their voices heard and showed up at the polls the results could be totally different. Non-mainstream parties could win. Incumbents could be unseated. Change could be made. The power is in our hands.

I haven't decided yet how I will vote in this election, but I can promise two things. First, that I will make a thoughtful choice. And second, that I will show up at the polls and cast my vote. If you're Canadian too I urge you to do the same. And if you're not Canadian I urge you to take the opportunity to vote whenever you have it, too.


Betsy Escandon said...

Not sure how it works in Canada, but I found that dealing with my kids' schedules/ illnesses and polling times sometimes meant that I missed voting (!!!). So I registered to be a permanent absentee voter and vote my mail. This way I can also study the issues/ candidates out at home and mark my ballot at the same time, without someone tugging on my shirt or whining for a snack (hopefully). To find out how to do this where you live, just google absentee voter and your county name. Many states do it now.

Amber Strocel said...

That's a great suggestion, Betsy. Luckily voting here tends to be pretty quick and easy, but anything to make sure you don't forget is good!

Norm Brown said...

People also need to remember that they vote with their wallet. Purchasing toxic cleaning chemicals is a vote of support for those products.


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