Barely one half of the eligible electors bothered to come out and vote last Tuesday, the lowest rate in recent years. With the vote between the Liberals and Progressive Conservatives splitting at about 40 per cent each, that means only about 20 per cent of the population of the province actually voted in support of the government we now have. That can hardly be considered a resounding mandate.
Not unexpectedly the Internet was full of commentators lamenting the poor turnout in the days following the vote. There were the traditional arguments about “if you don't vote, you can't complain about what government does.”
There were those who called for voting to become mandatory and those in rebuttal who claimed mandatory voting was a violation of their personal freedoms. So is voting a right or an obligation?
According to the Government of Canada, voting in elections is a duty of citizenship along with serving on a jury and obeying the law. It's there in black and white in the booklet the government provides along with the guide to taking the Canadian citizenship test.
The booklet, “Discovering Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship” puts it this way: “In Canada, rights come with responsibilities. These include... 'Voting in Elections( The right to vote comes with a responsibility to vote).”
One can only imagine the uproar if political parties decided they would not offer up candidates in the next election because nobody cares.
In our riding of Cumberland South we had four well-qualified gentlemen who went to considerable effort and expense to ensure the citizens of the district could be informed voters. And we let them down by not coming out and voting.
Frank Likely is a retired Anglican minister and past president of the Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce.