Bickering children. Is that the impression anybody else got watching the leaders’ debate on Monday night?
It’s definitely the feeling I had while watching the six of them interrupt and talk over one another, each so desperate to get our attention that I could barely understand what any of them were trying to say.
If it left you wanting to throw up your hands at the lot of them – maybe even skip voting in this election altogether – well I don’t blame you.
But I also want to urge you to not let it discourage you from voting.
We’re heading into another holiday weekend – you wouldn’t want to call off a family get together just because the children might get quarrelsome, would you? It’s part of what makes family events enjoyable.
The same goes for our democracy. We can’t let the personalities – and personality clashes — of the party leaders get in the way of what’s really important: coming together to build a better Canada for all of us.
And the basic building block to that future is voting.
I’m not here to try to tell you how to vote. That’s your decision to make.
The way I see voting, it’s like exercise. If you want a healthy future, it’s just something that you have to do.
Just like exercise, the benefits of voting are many and long-lasting, helping ensure that we end up with a government that is a true reflection of our shared values.
If each and every OPSEU member votes, that will be 165,000 votes from Canadians who understand the value of strong public services and who know first-hand what a powerful force for good they are. And since a huge proportion of funding for Ontario’s public services flows from the federal government, that’s a lot of votes for the services OPSEU members provide.
A scarier way to look at it: if no OPSEU members were to vote, we’d be 165,000 votes closer to a government that doesn’t understand or acknowledge the consequences of public service cuts and privatization.
So don’t let yourself get too discouraged by disrespectful debate performances or by the daily attacks being launched by one party at another. Those kinds of shenanigans are an inevitable part of our elections, but they’re not the heart of what our elections are about.
For the real meaning of elections, just look around you. Your friends. Your family. Your co-workers and your community. When you vote, it’s a vote of confidence in them. Exercise that right to vote.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union