Newspaper article The Canadian Press

How to Cast Your Ballot: The Non-Partisan's Voting Guide

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

How to Cast Your Ballot: The Non-Partisan's Voting Guide

Article excerpt

How to cast your ballot: The non-partisan's voting guide

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Author: Barbara J. Falk, Associate Professor, Department of Defence Studies, Royal Military College of Canada

There are an increasing number of online tools to help citizens figure out who they should vote for, generally focusing on personal preferences regarding specific policy positions.

Vote Compass in Ontario is typical, tabulating results based on a potential voter's views on a range of issues -- from rental, university tuition and electricity costs through to sex education, the power of unions, minimum wage, a guaranteed annual income and taxation on corporations. But such tools are only of limited use.

A millennial voter, one who feels maligned because of the criticism levelled at her generation for not voting, asked me recently about why she should vote, and how to think about voting as an act of citizenship rather than partisanship.

That led to a discussion about how one might assess politicians, either the real or aspirational variety, as well as parties -- less on issues that divide, and more on ability to serve and how to do the job well.

Then a retired friend posted on social media that he is so discouraged by the current slate of candidates in the Ontario election that he's thinking of not voting at all for the first time since becoming a Canadian citizen.

Here's my advice to them both, and to any voter, Canadian or otherwise, heading to the polls in the weeks or months to come. Canada's next federal election is only a year and a half away, after all, and American voters cast their ballots in mid-term elections this fall that will determine the makeup of U.S. Congress.

Government is important

How you vote is an indication of the role you think government plays in society.

But understand that there is more than one "core business" of government. Governments legislate, regulate, provide funding, collect taxes -- enabling and prohibiting actions large and small. In the 21st century, no magical thinking can erase the need for governance, but the scope and content of governance can and should be regularly contested.

Beware of candidates who claim government should be run like a business.

Private enterprise is largely motivated by profit; government is about the public good. Think about food safety, transportation or environmental regulation -- all of which must consider public protection and not be ethically compromised by serving the interests of private corporations.

Experience matters in politics, but not only experience gained in the private sector. …

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