As election day rapidly approaches, most voters have either made up their minds, or are in the process of doing so.
And while some wait to make their mark this Monday, others have already voted in advance polls set up around their federal ridings.
Then there are those who might vote but are unsure, those who don’t want to vote but might do so with encouragement, and those who are intimidated by the complex issues to parse and the many candidates to appraise.
Most of these voters will likely vote, they just require more information, contact with candidates, and to bounce ideas off friends, family and co-workers. In close elections, these are the voters who tend to cast the deciding ballots.
Then there are voters who normally vote, but have decided to stay home to express their displeasure at the choices in their riding, or to protest the policies and decisions of the parties and their leaders.
At least that can be considered a political expression of individual beliefs, more so than the millions of Canadians who’ve never voted, have no intention of ever voting, and truly do not care who wins and what the implications are for their country.
That is an unfortunate demographic that remains too large, and there must be ways of engaging this section of the population, rather than just writing them off as unreachable.
If voters are turned off this election it’s not because they lack choices. In the riding of Cape Breton-Canso – which encompasses all of Inverness and Richmond counties, most of Guysborough County, the eastern part of Antigonish County, and parts of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality – there are seven candidates seeking election. Mike Kelloway is the Liberal candidate, Alfie MacLeod is representing the Conservatives, Laurie Suitor is the NDP candidate, Clive Doucet is carrying the Green Party banner, Michelle Dockrill is running as an independent, Billy Joyce is the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada, and Darlene LeBlanc is with the National Citizens Alliance.
This represents the largest ballot in the history of this young riding, even dating back to the days when it had a different name but a similar geographic spread. There is a candidate for almost every political belief, so those complaining their voices are not being heard by this slate, has a tough argument to make.
Over in Central Nova – which takes in most of Antigonish County, as well as the Town of Antigonish, part of Guysborough County, part of Halifax County, as well as all of Pictou County – there are also seven hopefuls trying to be Member of Parliament.
Liberal incumbent Sean Fraser is up against Conservative candidate George Canyon, New Democrat Betsy MacDonald, Barry Randle for the Green Party, Al Muir representing the People’s Party of Canada, independent Michael Slowik, and Chris Frazer for the Communist Party.
It’s conceivable that Central Nova might have an even richer ideological mix than the variety offered Cape Breton-Canso voters.
Aside from the fact there are many candidates from many parties, offering differing views, it’s very possible that both local ridings could be close on election night, which should convince anyone on the fence about voting, to get out and make their democratic voice heard.
And if some of those who aren’t sure about voting opt out, they are essentially refusing to influence a close race. Why anyone would refuse to exert such power is hard to fathom.
Let’s hope they opt out in very small numbers so that voter turn-out in the Strait area is healthy. There’s just too much at stake to sit this one out.