I have never voted before.
Coming from a small Ontario farming town, controversy was never a point of interest when it came to mayoral candidates. When your town’s biggest claim to fame is a cheese museum, scandals are kind of hard to come by.
That said, we did famously have one incident where the mayor spent taxpayers’ money on a strip club venture – a whopping $750, which he paid back almost immediately. Nevertheless, the act cost him the following election.
When I was old enough to vote, I didn’t see purpose in the matter – to me, it always seemed to be like looking at paint swatches of near identical colours. Did I want the old white guy with the boring platform, or the slightly older white guy with the boring platform?
Even when it came to federal elections, I didn’t understand the weight of choosing a Prime Minister. After all, Canada isn’t a dictatorship. If a prime minister wanted to do something outrageous, he or she would be buried in bureaucratic red tape.
Like many Canadians, I was far more interested in American politics. That was where all the fun seemed to be, wasn’t it?
That all changed after moving to Toronto and the great, magical gift of Rob Ford happened.
If one thing can be said about Rob Ford, it’s that you can’t miss him, no matter how hard you try. For the better half of a year,almost every newspaper, TV show, and radio broadcast has mentioned his name.
Whether he was knocking over, bickering, or dancing with a councilor, I found myself inadvertently paying more and more attention to the politics of the city – and caring about them.
I wondered how Ford could stay in power, despite the powerful allegations against him. I also wondered about the state of the city, its budget, and why every session of city council was like a boring episode of Real Housewives.
Many others have similar thoughts but are quickly silenced by others saying, “If you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.” That alone can create a stubborn urge to purposely not vote once again.
But even if it’s annoying, it’s still right.
According to elections.ca, over 60 per cent of Canadians aged 18-24 do not vote. If youth voters are tired of the same boring old people running everything, it’s time they do something about it.
Many youth think their vote doesn’t matter–politicians are old, and don’t care about youth issues. This is, in part, their own fault. The less the youth vote, the less the politicians will care about their vote.
It’s time youth voters start to make them care. Ignorance is not bliss, and by ignoring our voting rights, we’re doing more harm to ourselves than a politician ever could.
That is why, on Oct 27, 2014, I’ll be placing my first vote in Toronto, and I hope many of you will as well.
Don’t worry about picking the wrong person. The only wrong vote is no vote at all. It is inevitable that there will be good and bad about all candidates. Nobody will hold you accountable for voting for them – we save that for the re-elections.