Politics

Why I Didn’t Vote in Toronto’s Mayoral Election

I did not vote in the 2014 Toronto Mayoral Election.

I have NEVER voted in a government election for that matter, because Canadian politics are cracked, and overthrowing the Fords isn’t going to fix it. Leading up to the shit-show of October 27th, I received a fair bit of online shame (both directly and indirectly) for my decision not to vote. The consensus seemed to be that I was some sort of shithead. Being Canadian, though, I guess I got off pretty easy, considering in the States, not voting probably would have resulted in death.

canadian feminist blog

(Mariah Carey, Citizen Change: 2004)

Although clearly an American ad, the statement VOTE or DIE reflects a reactive binary within many rhetorics of democracy—either you’re a citizen or you’re dead to the civilized world (cf. Agamben’s Homo Sacer). In Canadian politics, this sentiment often arises in statements like “if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain”, which effectively subordinates non-voters by revoking their freedom of speech. The act of voting (in every tier of our government) serves the purpose of elevating good citizens (by recognizing their ability to make an “x” instead of a “✓”), but also suggests the oppositional possibility of a bad citizen…

The shaming of non-voters carries two possible implications:

  1. You are an outsider
  2. You are a shithead

Since I was born in Canada, I fall under the latter shame.

I grew up in Ottawa, where Parliament Hill lingers quite literally above every peripheral landscape of my childhood. At the age of 4, my first crush was Kim Campbell, and in grade 3, I got detention for practicing the Shawinigan Handshake on a classmate. When I reached the age of majority, I made the conscious decision not to vote, because I have always considered political narrative to be a glorified form of celebrity gossip. I am entertained by the charming un-subtlety of Canadian politicians, but seldom believe in their actual politics.

I am not a shithead. I utterly understand that persons have perished for my FREEDOM. I also understand that freedom of rights means FREEDOM to choose said rights. I have chosen to take my imaginary (but ostensibly equal) share in this country’s democracy and bet it on absolutely nothing, because that is exactly how I feel about this country’s democracy. Some goober WHO DOESN’T SPEAK FOR ME always gets elected, while the voices I support get kicked out of Senate committees (cf. Terri-Jean Bedford). Call me a shithead, but I think democracy should actually be about equal participation, and challenging the ENTIRE nation by elevating stratified voices—NOT media frenzy, strategic voting, or the lesser of evils.

don't vote

Through some warped logic, we are told the current representative mechanism is fair, and that we somehow asked for it (by voting), or deserve it (by not voting). Fair for whom? In Canada, 164 aboriginal women are currently missing, but our government does not consider this part of its political agenda. There is absolutely no fucking way this is fair. The protection of power in this country is so out-of-control—and permeates every level of office. In fact, modelled after 16th century British parliamentary procedure (majority rules), the Canadian government is literally designed to silence the minority and keep the powerful intact (cf. the history of colonialism).

In the end, only ONE of TWO political parties ever wins—while a tertiary “socialist” party is publicly ridiculed for seeking progress. Even nonpartisan democracies, like the municipal government of Toronto, seemingly fit this static Liberal vs. Conservative mold. Talk about slim pickings—Stephen Harper’s government was held in contempt, and then subsequently re-elected IN THE VERY NEXT election with a majority. Really, was there no one else? The only way I can rationalize this is that a whole bunch of rich people must be making a mint off of him.

Also, I am no expert, but isn’t the correlation between politics and private industry pretty undeniable too? Big corporations invest a lot of money into Canadian politics, and in return, usually get to do whatever they want (remember when our country used to be big on peace and environment lol). This is because the political-industrial complex (otherwise known as oligarchy) is conspicuously self-serving, and does not give two shits about common people, as long as it continues to make money, to buy even more power, to make even more money…

As stated, I don’t vote and therefore, I have relinquished “my right to complain”, but when I read stories like this—my eyes are ACTUALLY reading you to filth. When you’re done shaming shitheads like me, we can talk about a redistribution of power. Until then, enjoy your demokrassy. I also had a crush on Stockwell Day once—but I’m over it.

Further Reading:

The Boston Globe – Vote all you want, the secret government won’t change

Radar Online – Kim Kardashian blindsided by Kanye West’s plan to move North to Paris – Without Her!

Mic.com – Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring was helped by social media

What do you think? Do you shame non-voters? Should Canada make not voting illegal – or do you agree? Let us know in the comments.

You May Also Be Interested In…

Canada Has a Diversity Problem in Government – And Ontario’s Elections Just Proved It (Again)

 Rob Ford is Back: Toronto’s Complacency With Homophobia and Sexism Better Not Be

7 thoughts on “Why I Didn’t Vote in Toronto’s Mayoral Election

  1. I can accept your reasons though I’m not crazy about the action of not voting.

    However, if you intend to criticize the system we exist in, may I ask for suggestions what to do about it? Without a real alternative or a plan for revolution, the system you are objecting to won’t change. And I agree with you on many points, so if you’ve got a notion of what to do, please let me in on it so I can stand behind you too.

    • Can’t speak for Jamie – but one option would be to add a “None of the above” option, like some countries who have made voting mandatory. That way – if you don’t want to choose anyone, you can do so.

      • You are not alone! But rather than staying away, and until a separate box to mark your choice in this way is included on the ballot, you can advise the Returning Officer at your polling station that you wish to decline your vote. (I am in Ontario) At that time, the RO will create a special note of your declination (anonymous of course), and your non-vote will be included in the final tally of ballots as “Declined to Vote”. It is considered a viable category. And you can bet the politicians are keen to know about the growing statistics in this area.

        apologies if this is a repeat…

      • Warning: Do not add your own separate category on a ballot. If you mark your ballot in any way other than with an ‘X’ in the boxes already provided, your ballot will be considered “spoiled” and it will NOT count. You MUST advise the people at the polling station of your intention, your wish, your desire to not vote. Then your action will count as an actual ballot. Many more people are doing this now. No one, I repeat, no one will judge you or call you names behind your back for choosing to do this. It is your right to vote!

    • You are not alone! But rather than staying away, and until a separate box to mark your choice in this way is included on the ballot, you can advise the Returning Officer at your polling station that you wish to decline your vote. (I am in Ontario) At that time, the RO will create a special note of your declination (anonymous of course), and your non-vote will be included in the final tally of ballots as “Declined to Vote”. It is considered a viable category. And you can bet the politicians are keen to know about the growing statistics in this area.

      Apologies for the duplication…

  2. You are not alone! But rather than staying away, and until a separate box to mark your choice in this way is included on the ballot, you can advise the Returning Officer at your polling station that you wish to decline your vote. (I am in Ontario) At that time, the RO will create a special note of your declination (anonymous of course), and your non-vote will be included in the final tally of ballots as “Declined to Vote”. It is considered a viable category. And you can bet the politicians are keen to know about the growing statistics in this area.

  3. Warning: Do not add your own separate category on a ballot. If you mark your ballot in any way other than with an ‘X’ in the boxes already provided, your ballot will be considered “spoiled” and it will NOT count. You MUST advise the people at the polling station of your intention, your wish, your desire to not vote. Then your action will count as an actual ballot. Many more people are doing this now. No one, I repeat, no one will judge you or call you names behind your back for choosing to do this. It is your right to vote!

Leave a comment...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s