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

Canada 2011 – election, democracy and disability

The federal election campaigning is well underway and all parties are jockeying for position with the Canadian electorate. Most Canadians will see the current national environment as rather “ho hum” with one pundit stating the only issue seems to be whether or not you are in favour of their being an election.

Democracy cannot be taken lightly so it is in everyone’s interest to participate and be informed. People are literally dying in North Africa and the Middle East for the right to have a democracy and a free vote. Some of us forget that our forebears also fought and died for democracy. It is a fragile state of affairs at the best of times and fraught with problems most of the time. But it is, in my view, better than most alternatives.

Voting in and of itself does not make for a democracy. Remember that well informed and educated people have voted in communism, fascism, statism, socialism, imperialism, colonialism, and supported sexism, racism, and other manifestations of barbarism (my term.) So, being an informed electorate is work. Being an engaged citizen is work. Being involved in the democratic process, such that one supports an open, equitable system for all citizens, does require one to be informed and engaged. That all citizens don’t have equal access to information, to services, to the polls is a concern of March of Dimes Canada.

We want to hear about issues that affect our most vulnerable citizens, people with disabilities, frail elderly people, those living below the poverty line (which is over % of people with disabilities.) Here are some of the positive measures that were announced in the federal budget that failed to get approval in the federal parliament:

  • Family tax credit of $2,000 to commence 2012
  • Medical expense tax credit to be increased
  • Top up of GIS for low income seniors

Are these policies that you support? What other policies would you like to see in the next budget? What are the policies that you would ask the candidates to address. Staff at March of Dimes will sort through your comments and share the feedback and over the next few weeks we will elaborate on issues that we think are of prime importance to our constituency.