BY MICHELLE MAISONVILLE
Each year on Nov. 11 we remember the courage of the Canadian men and women who fought to defend our freedoms and rights and who made it possible for us to live in a peaceful and democratic country.
We’ll never be able to repay the debt we owe to them, but we can remember their sacrifices and pay tribute to them.
One of those freedoms they fought for was the freedom to vote, but over the years voters appear to be something of a dying breed in Canada.
In 2011, the voter turnout was a mere 61 per cent and in 2008 it was even less with only 58 per cent of Canadians casting their ballot, the lowest voter turnout on record.
Although turnout was higher during last month’s federal election at about 68 per cent, the highest since 1993, it’s still a pretty dismal number. That means that over 30 per cent of eligible Canadians did not exercise their right to vote on Oct. 19. We believe it is the duty of all Canadians to exercise this right and make their voices heard.
Eligible Canadians have no excuse not to vote because it takes only a few minutes of their time.
Essentially all you have to do is find your polling station, go there and mark an X beside the name of the candidate you support.
Canadians also can’t use the excuse of being too busy. Voters were able to vote at any Elections Canada office until Oct. 13 or at the advanced polls held all Thanksgiving weekend.
On election day Canadians had 12 hours to vote. Here in Ontario, voting was held from 9:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Employers had to ensure employees had at least three consecutive hours off so they could go and vote, making yet another excuse invalid.
Another common excuse made is that they’re uninformed. With social media it’s now easier than ever to become informed so that is not a valid excuse.
People could find each party’s campaign promises on the candidates’ websites and their messages were spread across all social media platforms. There was also extensive media coverage for the 78 days leading up to election day and debates were broadcast online.
Our veterans deserve more than excuses and poor voter turnout. Make their sacrifice worthwhile by casting your ballot the next time an election comes around. Don’t let their fight for democracy have been in vain.