Voter Participation

By Jason Leach
Published January 30, 2005

A story on CNN gives a fascinating look into the minds of Iraqi citizens as their country holds their first true election. After having threatening pamphlets mailed out by military groups threatening death at the polls, an astounding 72% of Iraqis turned out to cast their ballot.

Compare this to Canada, where research analysis has proven that voter turnout is less on rainy days than on sunny days. And keep in mind, our voter turnout is ridiculously low to begin with. Canada is only two generations removed from the wars that gave us our freedom and already we have become apathetic and careless about our democratic rights as citizens.

Look at the recent situation in the Ukraine, where tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets in sub-zero temperatures night after night to protest the results of their national election.

It should be a wake-up call to Canadians everywhere seeing these nations fight and risk their lives for a taste of freedom that we take for granted. The situation in Hamilton is no better. Citizens have become a non-factor in the local political scene, so much so that many on council don't like the recent surge of politically active citizen groups that have formed.

It's not necessarily because they're trying to hide something, but are probably just not used to having citizens care enough to attend meetings, send emails and phone calls and hold public meetings demanding changes to our political doings.

Seeing the events in Iraq and the Ukraine should give us motivation to get involved as citizens. Look at what can be accomplished when citizens rally together for change. Things change! And I'm sure I'm not the only one who agrees that we need some big changes to take place here in Hamilton as well as on the national level in Canada.

Get off the couch and get involved.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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