Vote Monday, May 2nd–Others are Dying To

We have more than a unique opportunity to influence the future of  our country and the welfare of its people. We have a responsibility to do so, and in some countries, there is a penalty if one does not vote. In other countries there is a total farce when it comes to voting, and in not just a few countries the whole experience of voting is fought with fraud, deception  and the illusion of democracy.  So, as imperfect as our system of government may be, as tired as you might be from too many federal elections in too few years, do get up, get out and vote!

Neither I personally nor March of Dimes will advise on which party you should support or which individual to favour. It is only important in the life of a free country, that citizens cherish their freedom and exercise their vote. No people’s freedom came without a struggle and only vigilance, participation and a commitment to this freedom, will keep us free. An informed ,  active voter is one who can honestly claim to be defending our liberty.  We take too much forgranted, but when you look at the struggles of the hundreds of thousands, even millions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East who are not only fighting, but are dying for their belief in freedom, their right to democracy, their desire to Vote, one has to think carefully as to why one would not vote. Is it cynicism, ignorance or just laziness? None is a good excuse.

What issues matter to you? Some party or candidate is talking about those issues. What values do you want to see upheld? At least one party will identify with your values. What future do you want for this country, your family, yourself?  Thoughtful questioning  will lead you to the person or party with a shared vision. No one is perfect. No party has al lthe answers and in my view, no party is all worthy or all wrong. The great thing about this great society, is that the diverse views all matter and the parties do share a lot. I remain very influenced by Dalton Camp, former head of the Conservative party of Canada, who spoke at an academic meeting I attended on social policy over 30 years ago. He said, ” The closer one gets to power in Canada, the more the parties are the same.” I really do believe that. I think any party elected knows it has to serve all the people, not just the segment from which it drew the most votes.  All the parties have to work within the strictures of existing laws and institutions so can’ t always deliver on their platforms. It might take years before they can change things they perceive to improve life in Canada, but in the meantime, they will learn what works, what doesn’t and maybe even come to new conclusions. It is ever  thus. I have seen Liberals with significant social justice agendas, bring in conservative fiscal policies, Conservatives with  reductionist fiscal agendas, spend more than prior Liberal regimes on government expansion. No party is all red, blue or green.

All our rights were hard won. Defend them. Women did not always have the vote.People with disabilities did not always have legal protection.  Figure out what is important to you and take a stand for it. Count your blessings on May 2nd, and then VOTE.

For an analysis on the caregiver commitments of the 3 major parties, see MODC website at

http://www.marchofdimes.ca/EN/advocacy/2011elections/Pages/ElectionPlatforms.aspx

About modcpresident
I grew up in Calgary, where I completed a BA at the University of Calgary, then travelled and taught in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic during the heyday of Trudeaumania, hippie travel and social experimentation. I settled in Vancouver to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of British Columbia, and stayed another 8 years. After graduating I was a Social Planner and eventually became the Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. Ontario March of Dimes recruited me in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons and the 30th anniversary of the agency. It has grown from a budget of $5m in '81 to $100m in 2010. Services have expanded drafmatically. We incorporated a non profit housing corporation in 1992 and a national charity in 2001, and since 2006 the latter has operated as March of Dimes Canada. We own and operate several properties that provide accommodation and independent living services to 77 people in 4 municipalities and will add another property this year. Two other exciting non profit entities have been incorporated in my 30 years (yes, it has been 30 years!) and we expect to hold our first fundraiser in the US this year and to initiate our first service south of the border also. My role as President and CEO continues to be that of creating a vision, fulfilling the mission and developing strategic plans to meet an increasing demand for services from people with disabilities and their caregivers. This is achieved through direct service, advocacy and peer programs. On a personal note, I live with my 17 year old daughter and two cats, and enjoy their company a lot. My two adult sons are doing interesting exploration in their own lives and I am intrigued with how they are progressing. In my spare time, I have various volunteer roles on several non profit boards and committees, and enjoy creating programs for building awareness of diversity and disability. I think it has become true for me that youth is, while not "wasted on the young," something that I appreciate more with age. Adventures are physically more challenging for me now, so they have to occur in new dimensions.

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