IMG_8606It’s the word we’re hearing every day during the ongoing campaign: change. It is, in truth, what keeps the world turning and alive, so it make sense that the elections would become the epitome of the very concept.

The word and its envisioned wake get people fantasizing about what will be after October 19. Change alone is not what we should be after, but positive change, visible and beneficial for all Canadians. And we need a lot of good change to make things better.

With so much at stake, it is only natural to experience the slight hand tremors of the overwhelmed voter. There is no simple answer and yes, there is work involved in searching for the best option that will make the said tremors go away. It is really not enough to just show up to vote; we need to become informed voters who know who and why. If you find yourself hesitating, you’re not alone.

Every day, a new event unfolds, at home or internationally, new boundaries are being traced and we find ourselves wondering who to vote for, so we’re back to the drawing board once again. Who to choose? Why? It might as well be that common sense will invite to clarity; it always does when you let it do its thing.

Needs should come first. Food, water, medical care, education, financial support for those in need, addressing security issues that will not see anyone unfairly monitored or even worse, prosecuted, developing climate change strategies that will see alternative energy source industries thrive and people safe from natural disasters. For starters.

Good food; it is a right, not a privilege. We now know enough about nutrition to realize that corporate agriculture is not the way to go. No amount of pesticide is safe enough, and food coming from huge silos, whether it is vegetables or meat is just not the same as locally grown or raised products.

Food should come unprocessed, supplied by small businesses with faces we can see and know; with people who stand behind their product and supply not only farmer’s markets but also food stores throughout the country. It has been said that only large scale, genetically modified food can feed the growing number of people. It is only logical to argue that corporations know less about the growing of food and there are considerable risks associated with depersonalized food suppliers, one of them being the slow degradation of the very land we need to grow food in the first place.

In the age of corporate agriculture where seed patents are a reality and a company can dictate the way farmers live and operate, most times painfully removed from farm life in the name of profit over people’s health and environmental well-being, we need to go back to understanding growing food from the roots up.

High quality, independent (PR-free) education can provide the pros and cons of such arguments and enough critical thinking should serve as a tool to find the best solution.

We have been witnessing a decrease in the quality of education, and moreover, at a higher level, frequent and shocking abolition of science and the means that support it, be it research labs, libraries, intellectuals whose purpose is to promote knowledge and help it thrive, but who are instead shut down to make room for corporate development that brings profit to a few, but rarely to a community.

By definition, true knowledge should be unencumbered by any financial and political interest. We should employ electoral change to help go back to that. Reinstate the importance of learning, and the need to offer programs that will not stop anyone on the basis of income, reinstating the value of studying hard, knowing that studying is a right, but one that comes with the obligation of excellence.

Excellence is badly needed in addressing various health issues that have been at the centre of many a discussion in the media, from obesity and lifestyle-caused cardiovascular disease, to mental health, addictions, and the lack of quality care for veteran and the elderly. In the age of increasing environmental and lifestyle-related health issues, medical care (hence enough medical doctors of various specialties available in most communities) has to be an election subject, and an important one at that.

As for the environment, well, we’ve been raking up a bad reputation for a while now, our government stubborn enough to stay out of climate change summits. That needs to be addressed and unless people understand why urgent attention is needed, the perception of ill-intended environmentalist who oppose economic development will keep on going, much to the detriment of us all.

We need to educate ourselves and our children that health comes with a healthy environment, which can only be done if we apply knowledge and common sense to the world we live in, understanding that non-renewable energy sources can only take us so far and they come with a price too high to pay (recent storms and the hottest summer on record, plus the rapid melting glaciers as well as the disappearance of many canary-in-a-gold-mine species).

Climate change should have been addressed already and education on the subject will shed light on undeniable true-to-form facts: a thriving green industry provides employability for many and break the vicious circle that holds us dependent to finite, polluting resources.

The needs of a community at large (a country’s needs in fact) are many and diverse, and the task to address them all is gargantuan at best. Which is why we need to ask those in power to address the needs of those who are most at risk if not protected: children with special needs, the elderly, low-income families, and veterans, to name a few.

For all of that and more, we need education. From the first day our children ask why, we need to provide truth and knowledge and that should be enough to help promote integrity and help critical thinking tools develop in each and every one of them so that when it’s time to vote, greater good change will be the first to happen.