Bad timing a recipe for voter apathy

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As politicians in Ottawa position themselves for what seems to be an inevitable winter election, they should pull themselves away from party strategy sessions just long enough to ask themselves, if they call it, will voters come?

We suspect an election campaign in full swing in December will be placed on the backburner by an electorate already caught up in arguably the busiest holiday season of the year. That could be a recipe for a dismal voter turnout.

In a nation dogged by growing voter apathy - the percentage of eligible Canadians to cast a ballot in a federal election has declined dramatically, from 75 per cent in the mid-to-late 1980s to a record-low turnout of 60.9 per cent less than 17 months ago - could an election call come at a less desirable time?

We suspect the combination of a federal election less than two years since Canadians last went to the polls, and at a time of the year when many citizens 'cocoon' at home to avoid winter's wrath could conspire to attract the lowest voter turnout percentage in our nation's 138-year history. We realize that each of the major parties is seeking to position itself to have the greatest chance for success on election day, but are any of them looking at the big picture?

While Canada's eligible voter list grew by more than 2.5 million names between the 1993 and 2004 general elections, the number of ballots cast dropped by almost 180,000. For a host of reasons ranging from a generally cynical view of the political process to a disinterest in taking a political stand, registered voters are choosing not to cast a ballot on election day.

When our leaders exude a "what's best for my party" or "best for my chances to become prime minister" attitude, is it any wonder voters are turned off?

Such archaic, but proven traditions as pre-election budget promises by the party in power only add fuel to the voter-apathy fire. Preparing for a challenge to their tenuous minority government, the Liberals pulled out all the stops this week by unveiling an early Christmas present: $9 billion in new spending promises tied directly to them winning voter confidence at the polls. Faced with this dangling carrot approach, those who have already chosen not to participate in the democratic process aren't likely to have a change of heart - no matter when an election is called.

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SPEND WISELY THIS SEASON

Speaking of the holidays, many household budgets take a bruising when it comes to Christmas shopping.

A few minutes of simple planning can prevent shopping headaches and alleviate the worry of paying off your holiday debts, advises the Credit Counselling office at Catholic Family Services of Hamilton, which offers a number of ideas to help budget for this holiday season:

List people you need to buy for and set a budget for each. Don't try to buy everyone's gift on one shopping spree or you may get overwhelmed and blow your limit. If shopping for children, recruit the help of staff at toy stores - they can guide you to age-appropriate gifts at your budget level and save you hours of wandering through the toy aisles.

Plan how you will pay for your necessary purchases ahead of time. If you are going to buy on credit, use one or two low interest cards and leave the rest at home. Estimate how much you can afford to pay over a three-month period and resolve not to charge more than that figure. No one should be paying off Christmas debts into the spring and summer months.

Don't let the glittering displays dazzle you. It's easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy, but remember, Christmas comes around every year. Most of us don't recall the wrappings and gifts. It is the quiet moments shared with our loved ones that linger beyond the discarded tinsel.

Bad timing a recipe for voter apathy

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As politicians in Ottawa position themselves for what seems to be an inevitable winter election, they should pull themselves away from party strategy sessions just long enough to ask themselves, if they call it, will voters come?

We suspect an election campaign in full swing in December will be placed on the backburner by an electorate already caught up in arguably the busiest holiday season of the year. That could be a recipe for a dismal voter turnout.

In a nation dogged by growing voter apathy - the percentage of eligible Canadians to cast a ballot in a federal election has declined dramatically, from 75 per cent in the mid-to-late 1980s to a record-low turnout of 60.9 per cent less than 17 months ago - could an election call come at a less desirable time?

We suspect the combination of a federal election less than two years since Canadians last went to the polls, and at a time of the year when many citizens 'cocoon' at home to avoid winter's wrath could conspire to attract the lowest voter turnout percentage in our nation's 138-year history. We realize that each of the major parties is seeking to position itself to have the greatest chance for success on election day, but are any of them looking at the big picture?

While Canada's eligible voter list grew by more than 2.5 million names between the 1993 and 2004 general elections, the number of ballots cast dropped by almost 180,000. For a host of reasons ranging from a generally cynical view of the political process to a disinterest in taking a political stand, registered voters are choosing not to cast a ballot on election day.

When our leaders exude a "what's best for my party" or "best for my chances to become prime minister" attitude, is it any wonder voters are turned off?

Such archaic, but proven traditions as pre-election budget promises by the party in power only add fuel to the voter-apathy fire. Preparing for a challenge to their tenuous minority government, the Liberals pulled out all the stops this week by unveiling an early Christmas present: $9 billion in new spending promises tied directly to them winning voter confidence at the polls. Faced with this dangling carrot approach, those who have already chosen not to participate in the democratic process aren't likely to have a change of heart - no matter when an election is called.

* * *

SPEND WISELY THIS SEASON

Speaking of the holidays, many household budgets take a bruising when it comes to Christmas shopping.

A few minutes of simple planning can prevent shopping headaches and alleviate the worry of paying off your holiday debts, advises the Credit Counselling office at Catholic Family Services of Hamilton, which offers a number of ideas to help budget for this holiday season:

List people you need to buy for and set a budget for each. Don't try to buy everyone's gift on one shopping spree or you may get overwhelmed and blow your limit. If shopping for children, recruit the help of staff at toy stores - they can guide you to age-appropriate gifts at your budget level and save you hours of wandering through the toy aisles.

Plan how you will pay for your necessary purchases ahead of time. If you are going to buy on credit, use one or two low interest cards and leave the rest at home. Estimate how much you can afford to pay over a three-month period and resolve not to charge more than that figure. No one should be paying off Christmas debts into the spring and summer months.

Don't let the glittering displays dazzle you. It's easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy, but remember, Christmas comes around every year. Most of us don't recall the wrappings and gifts. It is the quiet moments shared with our loved ones that linger beyond the discarded tinsel.

Bad timing a recipe for voter apathy

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

As politicians in Ottawa position themselves for what seems to be an inevitable winter election, they should pull themselves away from party strategy sessions just long enough to ask themselves, if they call it, will voters come?

We suspect an election campaign in full swing in December will be placed on the backburner by an electorate already caught up in arguably the busiest holiday season of the year. That could be a recipe for a dismal voter turnout.

In a nation dogged by growing voter apathy - the percentage of eligible Canadians to cast a ballot in a federal election has declined dramatically, from 75 per cent in the mid-to-late 1980s to a record-low turnout of 60.9 per cent less than 17 months ago - could an election call come at a less desirable time?

We suspect the combination of a federal election less than two years since Canadians last went to the polls, and at a time of the year when many citizens 'cocoon' at home to avoid winter's wrath could conspire to attract the lowest voter turnout percentage in our nation's 138-year history. We realize that each of the major parties is seeking to position itself to have the greatest chance for success on election day, but are any of them looking at the big picture?

While Canada's eligible voter list grew by more than 2.5 million names between the 1993 and 2004 general elections, the number of ballots cast dropped by almost 180,000. For a host of reasons ranging from a generally cynical view of the political process to a disinterest in taking a political stand, registered voters are choosing not to cast a ballot on election day.

When our leaders exude a "what's best for my party" or "best for my chances to become prime minister" attitude, is it any wonder voters are turned off?

Such archaic, but proven traditions as pre-election budget promises by the party in power only add fuel to the voter-apathy fire. Preparing for a challenge to their tenuous minority government, the Liberals pulled out all the stops this week by unveiling an early Christmas present: $9 billion in new spending promises tied directly to them winning voter confidence at the polls. Faced with this dangling carrot approach, those who have already chosen not to participate in the democratic process aren't likely to have a change of heart - no matter when an election is called.

* * *

SPEND WISELY THIS SEASON

Speaking of the holidays, many household budgets take a bruising when it comes to Christmas shopping.

A few minutes of simple planning can prevent shopping headaches and alleviate the worry of paying off your holiday debts, advises the Credit Counselling office at Catholic Family Services of Hamilton, which offers a number of ideas to help budget for this holiday season:

List people you need to buy for and set a budget for each. Don't try to buy everyone's gift on one shopping spree or you may get overwhelmed and blow your limit. If shopping for children, recruit the help of staff at toy stores - they can guide you to age-appropriate gifts at your budget level and save you hours of wandering through the toy aisles.

Plan how you will pay for your necessary purchases ahead of time. If you are going to buy on credit, use one or two low interest cards and leave the rest at home. Estimate how much you can afford to pay over a three-month period and resolve not to charge more than that figure. No one should be paying off Christmas debts into the spring and summer months.

Don't let the glittering displays dazzle you. It's easy to get caught up in the shopping frenzy, but remember, Christmas comes around every year. Most of us don't recall the wrappings and gifts. It is the quiet moments shared with our loved ones that linger beyond the discarded tinsel.