The Simple Act of Voting

Nelson Mandela: "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears"

Tomorrow is Election Day. For those of us who did not vote in the advance polls or by special ballot, it is our opportunity to participate in the governance of our nation and make our voices heard.

Years ago, I saw a voter engagement campaign aimed at youth with a poster that said, "Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison so he could vote. What's your excuse?" In our own country, women didn't achieve the vote until 1918 - and not all women (or men) were enfranchised even then. Women in Quebec received the right to vote in 1940. Canada's indigenous peoples did not have the right to vote until 1960.

And while many will argue that the choice not to vote is also a valid political statement, when I reflect on the struggles so many people around the world face even today for the right of democratic participation, I am confident that the choice to mark my "X" on a ballot is the right one.

The simple act of voting



That's also why, this year, our Federation's governing body of the Annual General Meeting directed FPSE to engage in a strong campaign of voter engagement. It's why you're getting these emails and blog posts, why our Facebook page is filled with members like you holding up "I'm voting for..." placards, and why we took the unusual step of mailing out a leaflet to hundreds of thousands of voters across BC.

FPSE hasn't endorsed a particular party in this campaign, but we have taken a position opposing the Harper Conservatives. As academic staff and faculty, educators and researchers, we know how valuable our freedom of expression is. We fight to defend our academic freedom through grievances and bargaining; so why wouldn't we fight to defend the freedom of expression for all Canadians? Why wouldn't we stand up against the muzzling of scientists? Why wouldn't we protest the so-called "Fair Elections Act" and its resultant disenfranchisement of so many Canadians? Why wouldn't we protest the federal cuts to English Language Training that have led to significant barriers to access for domestic students?

So many of the things that have made us proud to be Canadian have been eroded over the past decade. As labour activists, as educators, workers and citizens with a social conscience, we must reflect on which parties will - and will not - serve our country best in the years to come.

All elections are important in a civil society, and this one feels especially so. Voting DOES make a difference. If you haven't already, please vote tomorrow. Encourage your family, your friends, and your students to join you. The polls are open from 7:00am until 7:00pm.

In the words of the late, great Tommy Douglas:

"Courage, my friends. 'Tis not too late to make a better world." 

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.