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Voting for the Masses

Every election year it happens. Among all the campaigning and hoopla, there’s always a group of those who refuse to vote. Most of them are fairly quiet about it, but there always seems to be a few who loudly claim that their refusal to vote isn’t just laziness, it’s a valid political stance that none of the parties accurately represent them, or that the party they’d vote for is guaranteed to lose anyway.

Of course, these are both really excuses for people who don’t want to be part of a democracy. The thing about a democracy is that it’s a good way of dealing with the issue that not everybody can have what they want, so we all need to compromise.

What I always wanted to say to people was if they’re so gung-ho on having somebody represent their exact views, they should get out and run themselves. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say that because we had election rules that made it more difficult for an independent to run. So instead, I tried to point out that by not voting, they’re not telling any of the parties anything. A person can try to rationalize it and say that not voting is making a statement against the system, but let’s be real. All not voting does is tell the parties that the voter is either too lazy to peel their behind from the couch or so complacent they don’t care what happens in the country. Even a spoiled ballot is better than no vote at all, as it at least shows that laziness wasn’t the reason.

No longer, however. The Supreme Court of Canada has passed down a ruling that strikes the law thwarting independent candidates, and Elections Canada has made the necessary adjustments (http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=med&document=may1704&dir=pre&lang=e&textonly=false). So, I can freely tell those whiners and moaners that if they don’t like it, they should get out and run.

But that still leaves the second excuse, that there’s no point in voting for a party that’s destined to lose. This excuse has always been garbage though. Unless a person is always writing the various political parties with their opinion, the vote is really the only way that the parties have to gauge what the public really wants.

I’ve never had a candidate I vote for win either a provincial or federal riding. In fact, my candidates never even seem to come in second place. Yet I vote every election. Why? Because I keep hoping that the runner up will take notice of where my vote went and consider adjusting their policies so that they might get my vote next time.

Back in 2001, people in the United States were complaining that Nader stole the election from Gore. Unfortuantely, the truth is simply that Gore didn’t have what it took to win. The democratic party needs to look at why Nader got a significant percentage of the votes and consider adjusting their policies to catch some of those. Had they done it last election, it might have been enough to put them into the President’s office.

The key to making Canada the country you want is simple.
Don’t vote to win.
Don’t vote for a party.
Do vote for the local representative that best reflects your views. Get your friends and family to do the same. If your views are best represented by the candidate for the Marijuana Party, for instance (yes, there really is one registered for the federal election, and no, this is not an endorsement) then by all means vote for that candidate. No, they probably won’t get in, but maybe a little of their influence will start to rub off on the major parties.

If nobody represents your views, spoil your ballot, but at least put it in the ballot box. Who knows, maybe if the number of spoiled ballots gets large enough, they’ll know that people care about the way the country is headed but need something radically different to get behind.

Pizza Dumping

The federal government has announced (http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/newsroom/releases/2004/0517ottawa-e.html) that enough evidence has been presented to investigate accusations of “dumping” frozen pizza into Canada from the United States. Dumping is of course a trade term meaning that the producers in the US are selling the pizzas in Canada for a loss, or at least below what they would charge in their domestic markets after adjustments for shipping and dollar values are taken into account.

It’s same type of accusation that the United States has used to cause massive duties on softwood lumber exports from Canada.

Like the softwood lumber dispute, my position remains the same. Accusations of dumping are meaningless. If a company is willing to risk its financial health to gain a foothold on the competition, let them do that. So long as we have good anti-trust laws in place to hold back monopolies, I see no problem with it.

To me, it seems that Free Trade is far too complex when all it really needs is three simple rules:

1. Each country can determine what they will produce and is under no obligation to sell anything internationally.
2. If a country produces something to be sold, whether within or beyond their borders, they must accept that thing for import from beyond their borders without extra duties or taxes.
3. If a country subsidizes production of something, that subsidy must be taxed back when it is being exported.

These three rules would allow us to protect the things that our precious to us, ensure that we get the best possible deal from around the globe, and that what we produce isn’t unfairly hurting what other countries produce.

It doesn’t have to be complex.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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