Last night, while I was coming third in pub quiz and then watching the Glee episode we recorded on Sky, big things were happening in my home province of Ontario.
Firstly it was the season opener for the Toronto Maple Leafs. I am afraid to say I am no more than a fair-weather fan. So I am whole heartedly supporting our boys in blue today after our 2-0 win of the Montreal Canadians.
Also taking place yesterday was Ontario’s provincial election. Despite being nearly “written off” Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals managed to secure a third straight mandate, but fell just shy of a third straight majority. The Liberals won 53 ridings, one short of the 54 needed for a majority. The Liberals lost 18 seats, while the Tories led by Tim Hudak picked up 12 seats and stand at 37 seats.
What I really want to address though is voter turnout. Turnout for last night’s election in Ontario was a record low 49.2 per cent. The previous record was set in the last election in 2007, when it was 52.8 per cent. Compare that to the 66% turnout for Britain’s last National election. I am still eligible to vote in Canada from abroad and I do. I am proud of my country and believe in the responsibility of being an active citizen. Perhaps it is a credit to my Facebook friends that many, nearly all of their statuses yesterday were pleas for people to go and vote. But seemingly their urges did very little.
A few months ago Canada lost a passionate political figure Jack Layton. He was tragically lost to Cancer. There was a resounding outcry from the Canada population. People across the country lit candles in their windows for him; Facebook and Twitter were awash with orange profile pictures. It’s hard to believe that a population so impassioned a few weeks ago could come out so dismally to this election. To be fair, Layton’s party the NDP‘s, led by rookie Andrea Horwath did win an admirable 7 seats increasing their seat total in the Ontario legislature to 17, up seven seats from the 10 won in the last provincial election.
Days before his death Jack Layton left a letter addressed to the nation. This letter has since been numerously retweeted reposted, forwarded, and quoted. I don’t agree with everything it discusses but there are ideas and sentiments that I do believe have resonance. In it he speaks directly to young Canadians. The youth population, were they to come out in droves could dramatically affect election results. Layton said to them “Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.” This could not be more true. Promoting the civil responsibility of voting should be a priority to Canadians and Canadian politicians. How can we make it a priority? It’s really a question for the ages. I’m certainly not going to solve the problem of poor voter turn out in a brief blog post. I’m really venting a frustration of mine so apologies and thanks for listening/reading. This is a bit of a heavier blog post for me. I usually make a point to not discuss politics but this statistic really got my goat.
I will leave you with a hilarious thought from one of my favourite tweeters and dearest friends, the fiercely clever @lindsayfg. I think she may be on to something here:
“What does it take to improve voter turnout Ontario? Should we incorporate some sort of talent portion? Dancing with the politician? “