If You Believe In Making Good Things Happen, You Need To Vote

By | November 5, 2014

Originally published as a column in the AM News on Friday, October 31, 2014. 

It is a time of turmoil, social and political. A few days ago, thousands were present for Cpl. Cirillo’s funeral in Hamilton. Next is Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent’s funeral, who will be laid to rest on Saturday in what the family requested to be a private, no-press-allowed, ceremony. Lest we forget.

As the dust settles and other news will boil over, one can hope that the troubling questions left behind by the sudden and violent deaths of the two soldiers will be answered sooner than later. Much has been said about the charismatic smile of Cpl. Cirillo and his good nature, less so about why he was shot by someone who managed to run amok in an area that has at least one surveillance camera.

Presumably, someone was watching that screen at all times, in which case, how could a man with a long gun be overlooked. And if he wasn’t, where were the security forces that were supposed to come out in a blink and contain the situation before anyone got killed. Answers are not easy to come by, and accountability is an elusive creature we want to see materialized among politicians.

Then we have the lingering, growing as we speak, energy-related issues that transform people into rabid partisans of the pro and cons arguments. We see it all over the country, and we see it in our own city.

Ideally, our elected officials should be able to sort it out in a way that will be good for all and there will be someone who will answer the tough questions or pay the actual price of damage should any damage occur after all precautions have been taken. Or oppose a project unless it is done right, which is the latest case of the David and Goliath type of confrontation between Kinder Morgan and the city of Burnaby, mayor and people standing together. Accountability is what helps with that.

We can toil over these issues and more all we want; truth is, there is no easy solution. Problems arise daily, some bigger than others, and it is often that people feel helpless about them. Expectedly so, when questions fall of deaf ears. Which is why voting becomes the one thing anyone can do to lessen the feeling of helplessness.

Unless we go out and vote whoever we think will do a good job at addressing issues that have to do with the state of our democracy, our environment, education, health, housing problems, and so much more, nothing will be done in a way that feels right.

Someone said to me ‘if I do not vote, at least I cannot say I voted the wrong person when they don’t do their job…’ But is that the point? It is never a matter of whether a politician does it right or wrong by me only. I can voice my concerns, I can express ideas and if I feel in any way betrayed by the ones I chose, I have to take it further than just sanctioning their activity in my head.

I do not vote my personal councilors and mayor, just like you do not either. It is a concerted effort and, as always, my deed (vote in this case) will affect your life and the other way around. A community that can vote is a community where good things can happen.

There is no escaping this one if we want to see changes and issues dealt with in a responsible manner. Freedom of speech and freedom to vote are two important assets in a democracy and they should be exercised by the people who have them.

There have been multiple instances of freedom of speech being impended (see the case of Canadian scientists being silenced to the point of scientists from other countries expressing concern over practices that are unbecoming of a democratic government) and there are cases of truth being withheld for various reasons.

There are decisions being made in regards to pipelines, mines and fracking that are questionable to say the least. There are accidents such as tailing ponds ruptures, oil spills and chronic health issues in many who live near exploitation sites and no one has to live with the consequences expect for the people who suffered in the first place. There are provincial parks that may be having their boundaries redefined just so pipelines could run through it.

All these matters have to be addressed in a responsible manner. More than that, the government officials who address these issues and more, have to be accountable to voters and open to having dialogues as needed.

In which case, one wonders, where are such perfect politicians hiding?

There are no perfect humans, politicians or otherwise. But in case of politicians, they have to understand their mission and the trust they are given by people like you and me.

More so, they need to be able to stand up right, be accountable and make truth their ally. If we all speak the truth, things are bound to get better.

I guess the best way to describe my expectations for what’s to come is to say that we elect representatives that will keep on growing to become great politicians rather than go for the perfect ones from the start, because truth is, no one is perfect and everyone should be given chances to grow and do better every day. What I do ask though is openness and a social conscience.

For that, I will go vote and I urge you to do the same. It is a privilege to have choices.

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