The race to Canada’s 42nd federal election is officially underway.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper lived up to the speculation he’d be paying a visit to his appointed Governor General, David Johnston, to seek permission to dissolve parliament.
Many, we’re sure, are looking forward to casting their vote on Oct. 19. Many more, undoubtedly, are not.
According to Elections Canada, more than 14.8 million people cast a ballot in the 2011 federal election, while about 7.5 million did not. That’s more than the number of votes received by any one party, including Harper’s 5.8 million-vote majority.
More than a quarter of those who didn’t vote said they simply weren’t interested. Another 23 per cent said they didn’t have time, while 7.6 per cent said they didn’t like any of the candidates.
This is a problem. Well, except maybe for the Prime Minister.
Last year, the federal government amended the Elections Act, effectively stripping Elections Canada of its ability to promote voting. Those sections removed from the act had authorized the chief electoral officer to inform the public about “the democratic right to vote,” and to “make the electoral process better known to the public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights.”
This amendment, according to Conservative democratic reform minister Pierre Poilievre, was based on his party’s belief political candidates are better at inspiring Canadians to vote than government bureaucracies.
Based on the prominent percentage of eligible voters who didn’t cast a ballot in 2011, it’s arguable neither Elections Canada nor political candidates did a very good job at inspiring the electorate.
Now, with our federal leaders once again preoccupied with contrived photo ops, touting party platforms and attacking the competition, it is unlikely we’ll see any objective advocacy from them for voting in the coming election.
It is possible the early election start will only end up putting off more potential voters.
There appears to be a pattern here.