There’s an old saying: “Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.” Ontario is filled with good citizens who don’t vote.
In the 2014 provincial election, 48 per cent of us were good citizens who didn’t vote. And that was an improvement over the previous election!
In 2011, 52 per cent didn’t vote. When you don’t vote, you’re not saying nothing. You’re saying something very clearly.
You’re practically shouting at your politicians: “Do whatever you want — I don’t care!” Well, I do care.
And I think OPSEU members do too! Imagine what kind of Ontario we’d have today if more people voted. Our highways would be plowed and safe. We’d be able to get prompt care at our hospitals. Our hydro bills would be reasonable, and so would the wait-times for home care and long-term care. Our correctional system wouldn’t be in crisis … our social services would have the resources they need … we wouldn’t be wasting billions on privatization schemes … the list goes on and on.
We can have the Ontario we want: we just have to vote for it.
Here’s another good reason to vote: even if your preferred candidate doesn’t win, your vote will earn their party $2.71 to use in the next election. As OPSEU’s First Vice President/Treasurer, I know that every dollar matters to an organization. So in a very real way, every vote matters in this election. Even if you don’t think your party’s candidate will win in your riding, voting will be a huge help.
Not voting for them, on the other hand, will be like digging them into a hole, leaving them even less likely to win next time. So whatever you do, vote!
But you don’t have to stop at voting. There’s more you can do to during an election, and I want to encourage you to think about doing it. I’ve always been proud to be an OPSEU member because we don’t just sit back and let others set the agenda.
We’re always out there pushing the boundaries to make life better for our members and the people who could be our members. That’s how we ran the most successful organizing drive in Canadian history, signing up 20,000 part-time college support workers. That’s how we’ve been saving ServiceOntario and LCBO outlets in small communities from one end of the province to the other. That’s how we forced the government and opposition to acknowledge the Crisis in Corrections. And that’s how we helped create a pension plan that could lift as many as a million Ontarians out of retirement poverty.
When good people get active, great things happen. So in this upcoming election, don’t just be a good person who votes: be a good person who gets active. Talk to your friends, neighbours, and co-workers about OPSEU’s platform, Vote Better. Read about your candidates. Go to debates. Talk to canvassers if they come to your door, and consider volunteering to do some canvassing of your own.
On Election Day, make sure people know you’ve voted and make sure that they vote, too. We all know that Ontario is filled with good citizens. Now we just have to make sure we all vote so we also get good politicians. Let’s Vote Better for a better Ontario.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President / Treasurer
Ontario Public Service Employees Union