Hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Victoria last weekend in vocal and banner-waving response to allegations of fraudulent phone calls made during last year’s federal election campaign that directed some voters to the wrong polling stations.
The protestors marched through our downtown, core chanting, “Stephen Harper’s got to go!” and calling for by-elections in the affected ridings.
And while most of the protestors know that a handful of by-elections in Ontario likely won’t change the makeup of the Conservative majority government, the biggest outcry was for the loss of faith in a democratic system that is already deeply flawed.
Unfortunately, the biggest flaw in our system doesn’t rest on Tory, Liberal or NDP shoulders, but weighs its full burden directly on us — the voters.
In the last federal election, barely 60 per cent of eligible voters in Canada showed up to make their mark at the polls. So while hundreds of citizens are enraged enough over underhanded dealings to pound the streets in a rally to protect the integrity of their vote, far too many Canadians can’t even be bothered to take 30 minutes out of their day, once every four years, to select the leaders of their country.
Forget robocalls — find out what drug the Tories are putting in our water to make the other 40 per cent of us this apathetic. (With tongue firmly in cheek, I’m guessing the party included an antidote in the ink of their candidates’ handout propaganda so that enough Tory supporters would still show up; a smaller number of NDP and Liberal supporters must have accidentally touched the leaflets when tearing them up, while Parti Québécois supporters obviously wear gloves.)
When nearly half of the population doesn’t care who is running the country, why aren’t there more happy people running around?
Complacency is a wonderful thing if you’re merry and content, but most people — unless I’m only running into the grumpy ones — aren’t.
Yes, the robocall scandal is dirty politics, but we’re the ones who opened the door by sending the unmistakable message that a political party only has to influence a small fraction of the people who actually vote to win enough seats to take power. (The PCs took the majority of seats with less than 40 per cent of the 60 per cent who voted.)
Bottom line: if an election can be won by a recorded message that relies on people not doing enough homework to know where their correct polling station is located, then we are more screwed up than even I want to contemplate. M