While it would be presumptuous to try to predict the outcome of Monday's vote, I am heartened by what I perceive to be an awakening of the Canadian electorate. If political polls and advance voting numbers are any indication, we are demonstrating, counter to the much-discussed assertions of voter apathy, that we are listening and following this campaign like few in recent memory.
I have been convinced for some time now that if we are ever to rid ourselves of the scourge of political arrogance that has characterized our elected representatives for far too long, we have to begin by showing that we do care about our country. And the best way to do that is by turning out in huge numbers on election day. To abstain from voting is to tell our Members of Parliament to do what they will and that like sheep, we will be led wherever their whims and self-interest take us.
But I think we will prove far less docile than our leaders would like us to be, their platitudes about the importance of political engagement notwithstanding. If I am right, I think there will be a number of factors accounting for the change, including the following:
The turmoil in the Middle East, starting with Egypt's indefatigable protests that led to the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, can have left few unaffected. The resolve, the passion, and the courage of so many people willing to risk everything, even their lives, for a principle that we have so frequently taken for granted or openly disdained, has left an indelible mark upon our collective psyche. And of course, those gyrations continue to this day in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Libya.
Rick Mercer's rant to young people, so amply and effectively disseminated through social media, is undoubtedly responsible for the rise of voter flash mobs on university campuses throughout the country. The energy, enthusiasm and passion so evident in the mob videos, I think and hope, will result in significant youth turnout at the ballot box which, in turn, will contribute to establishing a lifelong voting habit.
Then there is the dreary and relentless campaign of negativity that has characterized the Harper Conservative regime's bid for reelection. What does a strategy based upon the cultivation of fear, anger, suspicion and even hatred, along with the party's well-documented anti-democratic behaviour, tell the voter? It tells me that it is a party without vision, a party lacking the capacity to help Canada realize its great potential, a party that spurns logic and reason in favour of a demagogic manipulation of the people it purports to want to represent. In other words, a party unfit to govern.
And so as the campaign winds down and we head to the polls today, I join with all others of goodwill and hope as I reflect upon the possibilities for the country that I love.
This blog entry was originally published on Lorne Warwick's blog. It is published here, with minor edits, with permission.
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