Friday, September 4, 2009

Vote for Democracy

Now that we are all wondering about a potential federal election this fall (again), people are asking me if I will run as the Green candidate in the constituency of Vegreville-Wainwright.

The answer to that is... Yes! No one else wanted to do it.

One young man in my little hamlet (not old enough to vote last October... but who attended the candidates' forum) told me that although he feels I am/was the best candidate, he could not vote for me because he feels that a Green vote is a wasted vote.

While I empathise with this young man wanting his first vote to mean something, the logic of not voting for a candidate because the candidate doesn't appear to be the one that is going to be elected serves no purpose. In fact, it is totally in opposition to what democracy means.

As a candidate for the Green Party in the east central part of Alberta, the chance I will be elected is slim. Why do I run then? I run because democracy does not... WILL NOT... work if we do not all stand up and take part in honest, open, respectful discourse about what we want this country to be. If Canadians buy into the unhealthy idea that it is only the Liberals or the Conservatives that can govern, we are on the road to destroying the democracy we say we hold dearly.

Both the Liberals and the Conservatives hold their members in line with strict discipline. Voice any sort dissenting views in either of those parties... and out you go. It is "tow the line" or leave the party, which doesn't allow for regional perspectives in the House of Commons. We have gone from a representative democracy to an oligarchic system where the views of a few are foist upon the many under the guise of a democratic process.

Although I am a Green Party candidate, I don't agree with every Green policy. But that is the magic of this party. All candidates can differ on points of policy to some degree and this party is okay with that. The Green Party wants me to be accountable firstly to the people I will represent... to the people in my community... to the culture of my community... to the traditions of my community. The Green Party allows for the democratic process to move to a place where the will of individuals and the representatives they elect to make their honest views part of our democratic debate.

Running in a federal election costs me a great deal: time away from my family... my farm... my volunteer activities and my job (ie. my salary). It costs me in a big way, but I do it because I want the democratic process to work. I want to give people options. When I hear people (particularly young people) tell me they won't vote for me even if they think I am the best candidate simply because they perceive my electability as low... I am truly saddened. How did they come to view democracy in such a cynical way?

Democracy demands we vote for who we believe best represents the voices we want heard in Parliament. To do anything else is dishonest... to Canada... to our communities... and to ourselves.

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