When I think back to early October 2019, things looked a little different in Canada than they do today. We were coming up on four years of a majority Liberal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Andrew Scheer was the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the leader of the Official Opposition. We hugged our family members and friends, went to conferences and travelled freely. We stood near one another, shook hands and could see each other’s warm smiles. Fall 2019 was also the last time Canadians went to the polls to vote in a federal election.
The evening of October 21, 2019, saw the Liberals lose seats in the House of Commons. Their party was now relegated to governing in a minority position. The Conservatives added to their seat count and share of the popular vote. The Bloc Quebecois made somewhat of a comeback with the help of their charismatic leader, Yves-Francois Blanchet. The New Democrat Party lost some seats but gained more power. The Liberals would come to rely on them to pass legislation. The Green Party picked up two seats to total three in the House.
Fast forward to today. Canada has a new Conservative party Leader, Erin O’Toole. There is a new Green Party Leader, Annamie Paul. Hundreds of thousands of Canadians contracted covid-19, including the Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Mr. Blanchet and Mr. O’Toole. Thousands have died. In the early days of the covid-19 pandemic, political parties worked together to pass legislation to help Canadians suddenly out of work, caring for loved ones and doing everything in their power to hold onto their businesses. The three levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal, collaborated to provide necessary services and funding to Canadians.
Due to the fact that the Liberals are a minority government, a federal election may be close. This is because without a majority of seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals depend on another party to support them on a vote that is called a confidence vote. A confidence vote requires the support of the majority of the House in order for it to pass. The Budget is an example of a confidence vote. Budgets are usually presented to Canadians in the Spring. In 2020 the Budget was put on hold as the federal government responded to the covid-19 pandemic. So, because Canada hasn’t had a Budget in two years, the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented spending and deficits, the Liberals are in a minority and the Conservatives have a new leader, I predict we will head to the polls in the late spring, after a confidence vote fails in the House on a proposed Budget.
This means you will soon have to make a decision about who to vote for. How did you decide who to vote for in the past? Do you vote for the same party every election because it’s the party your parents voted for and you’ve carried that tradition on? Do you vote for the party that your partner votes for because you trust his or her decision making? Do you change which party you vote for each election? Are you a member of a federal political party and feel committed to voting for the candidate of that party running in your riding? Do you live in a region of the country that is generally Conservative or generally Liberal and believe you need to maintain that view? Take a few minutes to consider why you vote the way you do.
This year as you prepare to vote, I would like to offer you a challenge. I challenge you to commit some time and energy to learn about each of the federal parties. Learn about the leaders at the head of each party. Look at their voting records. Look at the legislation they proposed, supported or opposed. Think about your personal values. Does the party you vote for represent the values you hold close? Think about the kind of community, the kind of country you want to live in now, and that you one day want your children to work and raise a family in.
Here are some links to get you started:
We are fortunate to live in a democracy that grants us the right to vote. Let’s take this responsibility seriously. Do the work to learn about our political parties and political leaders. Make your own decision about who to vote for and then GO VOTE!