Home CommentaryOpinions Homework due Fall 2015: studying for the federal election

Homework due Fall 2015: studying for the federal election

by Laura Marchand April 14, 2015
Homework due Fall 2015: studying for the federal election

Do some summer reading, and get informed

Graphic by Marie-Pier LaRose

Graphic by Marie-Pier LaRose

It’s 2015, and if you haven’t been paying attention to politics, that’s kind of a big deal.

I know by now you’re probably sick of homework and readings, but if there’s one thing you do this summer, it should be reading up on federal politics. No, you don’t need to know the difference between the Prime Minister’s Office and Privy Council Office—but you should start paying attention, because it’s going to be a hell of a year.

It’s election season. Now, in Canada, that isn’t as big a deal as it is in the United States. Our parliamentary system means that a minority government can have an election sprung on them anytime through a non-confidence vote.

But this year is different: in 2011, the Conservative government won a majority. That means no non-confidence votes could pass, because the Conservatives had the most seats. In other words, it means we’ve had to wait a long four years for another election—and that election is now.

Or, more specifically, this fall. I’m seeing a lot of people in the streets and online complaining about the way our government is run. Are you passionate about the fight against ISIS, the lack of inquiry for missing and murdered aboriginal women, or climate change? Those are issues for the federal government: those are issues you can affect this very year.

In 2011, the voter turnout for the federal election was 61.1 per cent—only 2.3 per cent higher than the all-time low (in 2008). The turnout was even worse in the 18-24 age group: only 38.8 per cent.

I know you’re passionate, Concordians. The anti-austerity protests have taught me that. But when it comes time to put your money where your mouth is, where are the results? Do you only protest because it’s fun and trendy? Do you perhaps care little for effecting real, positive change? You talk the talk and have yet to walk the walk.

So, here’s your assignment for the summer: review some federal politics. Get ready. And vote.

No idea where to start? Here’s your crash course for brushing up on federal politics.

There are some hot-button issues that you should be able to align yourself with easily. For example, how do you feel about environmental safety versus economic stability? Which is more important to you?

How about proportional representation? As it is right now, a vote in the countryside is worth more than a vote in a city—is that something to be fixed?

Right now, the Government of Canada currently pays over $130,000 dollars in salary to each and every one of its 105 Senators (not to mention expenses), despite the fact that they have no part in the policy-making process—how would you want the government to change the Senate?

Then there’s obviously the question of terrorism and cybersecurity: how many powers should Canadian security agencies have in the name of defending against terrorism? How do you feel about the ISIS mission abroad?

Not to mention social issues—how do you feel about selective abortions? What about medically-assisted suicide?

Maybe the persecution and condition of Canada’s Aboriginal population?

These are things you need to think about. Sit down with a piece of paper and figure out where you stand on these issues. Pay attention to the news leading up to the election—every party will be trying to clarify their stance and act on it, if only in word alone. Take a political quiz and find out what party you align most closely with.

Do your homework. Do your readings. Take your quizzes.

And, most importantly: vote.

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