Voting for change? – Editorial

Predictions at the beginning of the year turned out to be on target and we will be headed for polls on May 2 for the fourth general election in seven years.

As soon as the news was beamed over radio and TV channels, I have heard several comments predicting that there would be a lot for us to write about over the next 42 days.

I am not so sure that will be the case.

It is more or less clear that the electorate will most likely not return a radically different composition of House of Commons to the Parliament Hill on May 2. Each of the main parties may win or lose one or two seats or even the Green Party may make history by actually winning a single seat in the federal legislature. But essentially, the line-up of the parties and their parliamentary strengths will probably remain where they stand today.

So it is easy to conclude that this is a totally unnecessary election as it will mean extra spending, extra distraction and waste of otherwise usable resources for nothing.

But could there be a possibility to make the best of this opportunity to think about where we came from, where we are and in which direction we are headed?

There, certainly, is and most of the responsibility to make that a reality falls on the shoulders of national media.

First and foremost, national and provincial electronic and print media outlets should take a stand to ensure that the next six weeks’ campaigning remains issue-based and not tainted by personal smearing of this or that party leader.

And when it comes to issues, there are so many of them to be discussed: Canada’s declining international stature, contempt of parliament by the Tory government; lack of sound policy alternatives being produced by either the main opposition Liberals or the NDP; failure of all main political parties to develop healthier environmental policies to ensure more logical exploitation of Canada’s energy and mineral resources, just to name a few.

Secondly, the electorate has a responsibility to make sure that they exercise their right to vote and take responsibility for the government that will take office following the polling day.

One does not need to be reminded that in the last federal election in October 2008, voter turnout proved to be the lowest in Canadian history with 58.8 per cent, down from 64.7 per cent in January 2006.

It is quite understandable that so frequent voting does create a fatigue, amounting to indifference, among the voters; yet the lower the number of voters decide on the formation of government, the less representative the governments become, and this hurts the spirit of the system that we are so proud to be living under.

Thirdly, one would wish that political leaders would put public interest before their urge to win in their election campaigns, but that would be an oxymoron unless they adopted a statesmen-like approach to politics, which, in itself, is almost utopian.

If all these too-good-to be-true possibilities materialize simultaneously, then we could have a really different legislature in Ottawa, maybe.

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