Up for debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

When Canadians head to the polls on January 23 to choose the country's 39th parliament, it sadly won't be hard to exceed expectations when it comes to voter turnout.

According to the Elections Canada web site, the practice of showing up to cast a ballot on election day has been in steady decline since just after the Second World War. Then, some 75 per cent of registered electors voted. That figure dropped to 70 per cent in 1993, 67 per cent in 1997, 61 per cent in the 2000 general election and slightly less than that in 2004.

To pinpoint the cause for the trend, Elections Canada carried out a study to determine what keeps Canadians from participating in the electoral process, and the reasons turned out to be numerous and varied. While negative public attitudes about politicians, government, candidates, leaders and the electoral system itself were most commonly named (67.7 per cent of non-voters), public apathy and meaninglessness of participation were also cited as reasons for staying away.

We suspect many people, despite the age of over-information (or maybe because of it) feel light years removed from the inner workings of Parliament.

After all, municipal politics, the grass roots local government, is the mechanism residents deal with most often in the course of their everyday lives. Dog licenses, recreation programs, property taxes, garbage collection and snow removal fall under the realm of the municipality and if we don't know where to go or who to talk to when there's a problem, we soon find out. And if we don't like how these issues are handled or how much we're paying for them, we don't have to go far to talk to our local councillor. Provincial politics, conducted just down the road in Toronto, is a little further removed yet most of us have semi-regular direct contact with the various ministries under its mandate. Drivers' licenses and public education issues are two examples that come to mind. On the other hand, the average citizen feels so far removed from the federal political process - other than to labour over income tax forms every spring - that they don't feel a connection to Ottawa and its billion dollar budgets.

But there's a reason that the average citizen gets a vote. Sure, it's easy to leave forming policy and implementing legislation to those on parliament hill, and get on with our everyday lives. But federal decisions, while they seem far removed from our daily reality, impact our standard of living in a very direct and profound way. Child care, health care, the criminal code, deals for cities, goods and services taxes, downloading - our very quality of life is at stake. And January 23 is our chance to weigh in on how we want it to be shaped and who we want to shape it.

The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce has organized an all candidates debate this Monday evening (January 16) at Waterdown District High School. Four of the local candidates running in the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale riding will be there to talk about the issues, and the two-hour event is open to everyone and free of charge.

This will be our last, best chance to find out where each candidate stands on the issues and to form an educated basis for how we will choose our next leaders.

Up for debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

When Canadians head to the polls on January 23 to choose the country's 39th parliament, it sadly won't be hard to exceed expectations when it comes to voter turnout.

According to the Elections Canada web site, the practice of showing up to cast a ballot on election day has been in steady decline since just after the Second World War. Then, some 75 per cent of registered electors voted. That figure dropped to 70 per cent in 1993, 67 per cent in 1997, 61 per cent in the 2000 general election and slightly less than that in 2004.

To pinpoint the cause for the trend, Elections Canada carried out a study to determine what keeps Canadians from participating in the electoral process, and the reasons turned out to be numerous and varied. While negative public attitudes about politicians, government, candidates, leaders and the electoral system itself were most commonly named (67.7 per cent of non-voters), public apathy and meaninglessness of participation were also cited as reasons for staying away.

We suspect many people, despite the age of over-information (or maybe because of it) feel light years removed from the inner workings of Parliament.

After all, municipal politics, the grass roots local government, is the mechanism residents deal with most often in the course of their everyday lives. Dog licenses, recreation programs, property taxes, garbage collection and snow removal fall under the realm of the municipality and if we don't know where to go or who to talk to when there's a problem, we soon find out. And if we don't like how these issues are handled or how much we're paying for them, we don't have to go far to talk to our local councillor. Provincial politics, conducted just down the road in Toronto, is a little further removed yet most of us have semi-regular direct contact with the various ministries under its mandate. Drivers' licenses and public education issues are two examples that come to mind. On the other hand, the average citizen feels so far removed from the federal political process - other than to labour over income tax forms every spring - that they don't feel a connection to Ottawa and its billion dollar budgets.

But there's a reason that the average citizen gets a vote. Sure, it's easy to leave forming policy and implementing legislation to those on parliament hill, and get on with our everyday lives. But federal decisions, while they seem far removed from our daily reality, impact our standard of living in a very direct and profound way. Child care, health care, the criminal code, deals for cities, goods and services taxes, downloading - our very quality of life is at stake. And January 23 is our chance to weigh in on how we want it to be shaped and who we want to shape it.

The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce has organized an all candidates debate this Monday evening (January 16) at Waterdown District High School. Four of the local candidates running in the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale riding will be there to talk about the issues, and the two-hour event is open to everyone and free of charge.

This will be our last, best chance to find out where each candidate stands on the issues and to form an educated basis for how we will choose our next leaders.

Up for debate

News Nov 22, 2006 Flamborough Review

When Canadians head to the polls on January 23 to choose the country's 39th parliament, it sadly won't be hard to exceed expectations when it comes to voter turnout.

According to the Elections Canada web site, the practice of showing up to cast a ballot on election day has been in steady decline since just after the Second World War. Then, some 75 per cent of registered electors voted. That figure dropped to 70 per cent in 1993, 67 per cent in 1997, 61 per cent in the 2000 general election and slightly less than that in 2004.

To pinpoint the cause for the trend, Elections Canada carried out a study to determine what keeps Canadians from participating in the electoral process, and the reasons turned out to be numerous and varied. While negative public attitudes about politicians, government, candidates, leaders and the electoral system itself were most commonly named (67.7 per cent of non-voters), public apathy and meaninglessness of participation were also cited as reasons for staying away.

We suspect many people, despite the age of over-information (or maybe because of it) feel light years removed from the inner workings of Parliament.

After all, municipal politics, the grass roots local government, is the mechanism residents deal with most often in the course of their everyday lives. Dog licenses, recreation programs, property taxes, garbage collection and snow removal fall under the realm of the municipality and if we don't know where to go or who to talk to when there's a problem, we soon find out. And if we don't like how these issues are handled or how much we're paying for them, we don't have to go far to talk to our local councillor. Provincial politics, conducted just down the road in Toronto, is a little further removed yet most of us have semi-regular direct contact with the various ministries under its mandate. Drivers' licenses and public education issues are two examples that come to mind. On the other hand, the average citizen feels so far removed from the federal political process - other than to labour over income tax forms every spring - that they don't feel a connection to Ottawa and its billion dollar budgets.

But there's a reason that the average citizen gets a vote. Sure, it's easy to leave forming policy and implementing legislation to those on parliament hill, and get on with our everyday lives. But federal decisions, while they seem far removed from our daily reality, impact our standard of living in a very direct and profound way. Child care, health care, the criminal code, deals for cities, goods and services taxes, downloading - our very quality of life is at stake. And January 23 is our chance to weigh in on how we want it to be shaped and who we want to shape it.

The Flamborough Chamber of Commerce has organized an all candidates debate this Monday evening (January 16) at Waterdown District High School. Four of the local candidates running in the Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale riding will be there to talk about the issues, and the two-hour event is open to everyone and free of charge.

This will be our last, best chance to find out where each candidate stands on the issues and to form an educated basis for how we will choose our next leaders.