Please Don’t Forget The Box Ballot

Today is Election Day in Canada and tomorrow the Canadian political landscape may be drastically different. What seemed like an ordinary campaign at the start with predictable results similar to those attained the last time around has been flipped on its head and might just take a sharp turn to the left before the dust settles. It’s a bit cliché to say that every vote counts, but this time, it looks like that’s actually going to be the case.

It seems, for once, people are excited to go out and vote and more than two million of them did just that in the advance polling. Even though it was a holiday weekend, advance polling numbers were up 34% from the 2008 election.

For those of you who didn’t go out last weekend, you now have twelve hours (9:30am 9:30pm) to let your opinion be counted. All you need is the voter card you got in the mail with your name on it or a proof of address (a driver’s license or a bill addressed to you at your address) and a photo ID. If you’re not sure where to vote, check the Elections Canada website.

Changing Tides
Last time around, there was a growing resentment of Stephen Harper and what he was doing to the country. Unfortunately the political left, and quite a bit of the center as well, were divided between the Liberals, the NDP, the Bloc (in Quebec only, of course) and the Greens.

Strategic voting sites sprung up, telling people which party to vote for in which riding in an attempt to defeat the Conservatives. For the most part, it involved people having to hold their noses and vote Liberal.

Fast-forward to now, past the G20 and other scandals, and people have even more reason to dislike Harper. This time though, the left is uniting and according to pretty much every poll done over the past two weeks it is uniting behind Jack Layton and the NDP.

This orange wave started in Quebec and could very well wipe the Bloc off the map or push it back to its hardcore sovereignist base while bringing the Liberals down to third-party status, something that has never happened before, ever.

The most recent polls see the NDP neck and neck with the Conservatives. This has scared pretty much everyone in the other parties who launched some last-minute attack ads and even a very ineffective smear campaign.

If enough Liberal and other voters switch, we may have Prime Minister Jack Layton and Harper can go back to whatever it was he did before.

Vote Internet and Culture
Elections always bring out special interest groups trying to push a particular policy they champion to the forefront of the discourse. This is sometimes done in a backroom wheeling and dealing way but when it comes to issues that affect all of us such as the environment, it’s usually quite public.

Sometimes they poll the parties on the issue and make the results public, issuing “checkups” or “report cards” on their stances. Sometimes they throw together entire parties dedicated to the singular issue. Now, one special interest that is of interest to us all, really, is doing a little from column A and a little from column B. Yes, The Internet is running for Prime Minister of Canada.

This candidate, known more simply as Net, is already off to a great start. Not only does Net connect millions of Canadians together from coast to coast, 35 000 people have signed an online pledge to vote for the Internet and this only a month after half a million people signed OpenMedia.ca’s Stop the Meter petition against Usage-Based Billing (UBB).

The threat of UBB is why the web is such an important issue this election. A few months ago, giant telecom companies like Bell, Rodgers and Shaw convinced the CRTC to allow them to put a cap on the amount of online content their customers, and the customers of smaller ISPs using their lines, can access and charge more for anything beyond that point. Not only is this a cash grab not based on what it actually costs the big boys to provide the service, but it’s a threat to the free flow of information online in Canada as we know it.

And just how do you vote for the Internet? Well, since Net doesn’t have a party and is only looking for the top job, OpenMedia.ca has prepared a list of local candidates that support a free and open Internet. If one of them is running in your riding, then a vote for them is a vote for the Internet and a fair and open media future in Canada. They’ve also published the results of a quiz sent to all the main and some not-so-main parties running. Pretty much all except for the conservatives responded. No big surprise there.

The Net isn’t the only thing to consider. Culture is also very important. Having successfully won (for the moment) against the City of Montreal and developper Angus, the coalition to save Cafe Cleopatre hope that you vote with culture in mind. They’ve issued their own report card on the parties and even released an attack-ad style video on the candidates.

Photos courtesy metormedia.ca and cbc.ca

 

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