ever since my parents marched me out to the polling booth a month after i turned 18 and told me who to vote for, i’ve always been pretty religious about casting my ballot at election time. from the time my own children were old enough to walk, they have always come along with me, to witness democracy in action. I used to get a lump in my throat as i explained the democratic process to them, the Why of casting a ballot (though they always find the How more interesting: the intriguing peekaboo process of marking an X and then hiding the page in a big box in secret).
it never fails to strike me how fortunate we are to live in a country in which the impact of casting a vote is inversely proportionate to the effort required to do so.
researching a story i produced at discovery channel years ago about the science of recycling, i came across a fascinating statistic: in ontario, more people recycle than vote or go to church. which is all well and good from a materials recovery point of view, but from a democratic perspective, it’s pretty grim.
voting is the only opportunity afforded to every single citizen to choose the kind of municipality, province or country we want to live in. to the forty per cent of canadians who routinely ignore this democratic right, a right some people only dream of in many other parts of the world, i have a simple, not-terribly-original question: is there *anything* you’d like to see change in your community, your country? because if there is, figure out who you think can change it and vote for them.
i exercised my democratic right at an advance poll the other day (i figured i might be a little distracted on election day and i didn’t want to forget…)
as i took my ballot from the poll clerk, i couldn’t help but smile, like i was carrying a secret.
the dog was tugging my shoulder out of its socket, lunging to sniff at a particularly interesting table leg. my youngest son had to go to the bathroom, a need he articulated loudly and repeatedly. and my older son was in a full-scale panic that he’d be late to catch his ride to hockey practice.
but for a fleeting moment, none of it mattered. for the half-minute that i sat in the cardboard cove of the voting booth, i was in a state of emotional high. looking down at that ballot, the plainest of black and white printed materials, i swooned with a rainbow of emotions: pride, admiration, excitement, and awe. i have never been so proud of my beloved. no amount of robocall-induced cynicism could tarnish the exercise of marking my ballot for the person i believe in with all my heart.
grant took that democratic right—to mark a ballot in favour of the direction you think the country should head—to the fullest extension possible. he went all the way, putting his ideas, his values, his reputation and his passion on the line to try to make a better future for all of us. no matter someone’s political stripe, for the sheer courage to stand up as a political candidate, i now *know* they all deserve respect. *and* they deserve to have more than half the population cast a ballot.
you know who i voted for. but whomever it is you think deserves your HB pencil X beside their name in this federal by-election, i hope you’ll honour the process and get out to vote.
Gill Deacon lives in Toronto-Danforth with her husband Grant Gordon and their three sons. She is a regular contributor to grantgordon.ca, giving us a peek behind the scenes during the political campaign.
You can follow her on Twitter at @gilldeacon