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Did You Vote Canada?

I happen to be at home on this federal election day. I voted relatively early this morning, anticipating that I’d have to work today, but Mother Nature has decided I’ll have the day off. I walked six blocks in the rain and the whole transaction took about five minutes once I got there. It’s funny how I’ve never seen a line for voting in any of the provincial, municipal or federal elections I’ve taken part in. I couldn’t help but wonder how the weather would affect the vote. How far are the poor, the car-less going to walk in the rain, even from a bus stop, without fancy rain gear?

And then there’s the strategizing. I live in a city, but my district is lumped in with a huge rural area. A lot of times the rural areas vote Conservative (though some farmers may try something different with the Canadian Wheat Board issue). Even in my own somewhat poor area of the city, I see a lot of Conservative signs. So this swayed my own vote. I don’t want the Conservatives to win, I confess. I can live with a minority Conservative government, but if they got a majority, it might be disastrous. I admit I was torn by the idea that left wing parties tend to spend more money on programs (though Conservatives seem just as good at running up debt in the long term, if not better) at a time when the world economy is likely to contract. At the same time, if you don’t have a government in power that will spend money in times of recession, things can get really ugly. I haven’t seen a single Liberal sign in my neighborhood, or in the province, for that matter, not that I’m the best observer. I actually believe in their leader, but the party itself, I’m not so sure about.

As for the Greens, I watched the debate with Elizabeth May. I was really quite happy she was there. It was pretty entertaining to hear her calling Harper on his statements from off-screen and when it was her turn to talk. She was the only one who seemed to bring new and surprising points out, and probably at least partly because she wasn’t just there to sell herself and her party, but to shake things up and get her voice heard. I related to her most of all. Dion looked nervous or uncomfortable speaking English and trying to get past his image as an intellectual who can’t speak plainly. Harper made me uncomfortable when he smiled a smile that didn’t even nearly reach his eyes. And Layton sounds like some 1950s salesman every time I hear him speak. They were all alternately entertaining, frightening and painfully awkward to watch, except May. I so badly wanted to vote Green. Proportional representation would be wonderful.

I checked in with CBC this morning, and one of the top stories was about how the election rules have changed in terms of how voters must produce certain types of identification and have a proper street address. The homeless are obviously out, but many Aboriginals also don’t have a standard street address, living on reserve. It’s likely only in the coming days we’ll find out how badly this disenfranchised people as stories come out of being turned away and being unable or unwilling to make a second attempt to vote after obtaining proper verification of identity according to the current rules.

All in all, voting on a rainy Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend was not a pleasing prospect when I woke up this morning still feeling tired after all that turkey, travel and even a wedding in amongst all the catching up with relatives. I wonder how many won’t bother to fill out a ballot at all.

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