Lowest voter turnout in Canadian history

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by trinityroyal, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    So...our Federal election was on Tuesday. To keep from getting political, I won't mention who I was rooting for, who I voted for or who won.

    However, one thing that upsets me greatly about the whole process...All of the papers are indicating that this election had the lowest voter turnout for any federal election in Canadian history!

    59.1% !!!!Can you believe it!!??
    We have had a minority government of one stripe or another for the last 4 years (in other words, the party in power is outnumbered by the total of the opposition and the other parties in government), so the government hasn't been able to get a lot accomplished for a very long time. People have been complaining loudly about it for the whole 4 years.

    But when they're given the opportunity to do something about it, they sit home and ignore the whole process.

    I certainly hope I don't hear people complaining about the election results. They have no right to, given that they didn't participate in shaping them.

    Rots my socks, this does!

    For all of you in the U.S., I urge you to get out and vote when your turn comes in November. It's important!


  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    That burns me up, too. Use your voice people!!!! Make it count!!! This is a right and a privilege that many in this world would lay down their lives to have.

    If you don't vote, you can't bi...err...complain. Plain and simple.
  3. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    Even if you feel like the *big one* doesn't count. At least learn, educate yourself and vote for local issues!!!
    Trinity I hate this... up in Idaho we would have the same thing on a local level all of the time. People would complain, up and down. Then when the % came out. it would be in the 30-50%. This is not OK.
  4. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I agree Trinity.
    If you don't vote then don't complain. It's like being an empty tin can. Lots of noise, no substance.
  5. Jena

    Jena New Member


    that percentage is just totally shocking. It really is. I have friends up there who were eager to vote. good for you though that you did the rite thing.

  6. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    I have voted since I was old enough. Now I actually get involved. I agree it is so difficult to see such a low turnout.

  7. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I too have always voted since I was old enough, even in the "little" elections. I'm sorry Canada didn't get a good voter turnout. I'm hoping for a better turnout here in November.
  8. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    I agree wholeheartedly. You don't vote, you can't complain. The results affect EVERYONE so everyone should vote.

    On the other hand, and trying to not get political either, I think for the U.S., part of it is the way the system is set up. There was that one election where the popular vote said one thing but the electoral vote said the opposite. Personally I think that some people don't bother because they think it won't matter.
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    This is another thing that frustrates me. During the last election there was one riding in which the local candidate won by 28 votes. How can people say that their votes don't count when it comes down to the wire like that?
  10. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    We have the electoral college here. Basically if you're blue in a red state or red in a blue state, you're vote really isn't as loud as someone in a swing state. That's why the candidates only dump their money in the swing states.

    The electoral college was started way back before we had the communication systems we do today. in my opinion, it's outdated. I'm not getting political. Not taking sides on either party. I feel this is an American voice issue.

    Because of the electoral college, Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but Bush won the electoral vote and became President. I believe the same thing happened with Kennedy - he won the electoral vote, but not the popular. Someone correct me if I have the wrong President. It's uncommon for it to happen this way - win the electoral, but not the popular - but it can and has happened. Then you end up with a lot of angry voters who are disillusioned with the process.
  11. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    For us, voting is compulsory. It's also quite an ordeal at times, especially if we have a Senate vote (Upper House = British House of Lords). The Senate voting paper can literally be as big as a tablecloth! We generally have a House of Representatives ballot at the same time - the paper is tiny by comparison, you could lose it in your pocket.

    Too often we've seen seats won or lost on very narrow margins - it doesn't necessarily matter if you're in an area where most people vote the other way to you - at some point, somewhere and some time, it WILL make a difference. Even if the person you want doesn't get in, you have the satisfaction of knowing that every vote against the winner will send him/her a message of, "I don't trust you."

    I suggest that any time you meet someone who is whining about the government, ask them if they voted. If they did, then they have a right to whine. Maybe. Otherwise - no excuse, none whatsoever.

  12. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Marg, husband and I have been talking about that. He thinks that voting should be compulsory as well. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but it might not be a bad idea.

    Our voting process isn't as onerous as the one you describe. Each political party fields candidates in every riding across the country. We vote for the local candidate affiliated with the party we support. The leader of the party is also a local candidate somewhere or other. The number of local candidates for a given party who are voted in determines who will be the Prime Minister (party leader), and whether the government is a majority (more than 50% of the seats in the House of Commons), or a minority (fewer than 50%).

    Our Senate is appointed, and they have jobs for life. Some electoral reformers are trying to change this. Frankly, I think an elected Senate is a better structure for Canada.

    This election was a real squeaker. The victorious party gained 145 seats in the House of Commons. To have a majority, you need 155, so they were [ ] this close. The difficulty with a minority government is that the other parties can form a coalition to block whatever legislation you're trying to pass. In some cases, with some governments, this is a good thing, but lately the opposition has been blocking sound legislative changes just out of obstinacy.

    This also leads to instability in the government, and then another election. This was our 3rd one in the last 4 years.

    Although this minority government has posted some very strong numbers, they are still in a position for the opposition parties to thwart them, bring about non-confidence motions and all the other nonsense and upheaval we've been dealing with over the last several years. With the economy in such a rocky position, I think we need stability in government, whichever party is in power. We can't afford the distraction of political infighting when we need to pay attention to people's lives, livelihood and health.

    As for the whining people, I think I will ask them whether they voted or not. I like that idea...

  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Trinity, yours sounds similar to ours, except you don't have to vote for your senate. Mind you, even though we vote for ours, we usually only vote for half at a time otherwise the 'tablecloth' would be even bigger. Anyone wanting to get into parliament, the Senate is a cushy way to go, especially if you are going in with a major party. But you can even start your own political party, as long as you can organise enough publicity and make yourself sound at least half-serious. Various 'independent' or minor party groups (if your new political party is too small, you are considered an independent) have included:

    Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party

    Carers Alliance

    Cheaper Petrol Party

    Climate Change Coalition

    Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party

    Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)

    One Nation Western Australia

    Pauline Hanson's One Nation (NSW Division)

    Peter Andren Independent Group

    Senator On-Line

    Socialist Alliance

    The Australian Shooters Party

    The Fishing Party

    What Women Want

    These are ones that managed to get enough support to get on the ticket at all. Independents rarely get enough primary votes and have to rely on preferences, which is why they still need to butter up the major parties, or at least sound sufficiently sensible to provide a viable independent voice in parliament, as a potential brake on the government. Independents who DO get in can find themselves with the balance of power, which can be very lucrative indeed.

    A Senate which is politically affiliated can cause serious problems - in 1976 (Nov 11) our Prime Minister was sacked by our Governor General, because he had been unable to get the Supply bill passed in the Senate - the opposing political party was blocking it, in order to force a constitutional crisis. Of course, once the opposing party's leader was put in as acting PM, they immediately allowed the Supply bill to pass, so government employees could be paid, at least.

    Our House of Reps voting sounds the same as yours. Our ticket is tiny, usually only a handful of candidates, often only two - each of the two major parties. Each candidate is in our area, if elected would be representing the people who live in our electorate. For example, in our area our state MP actually lives in our village and is the current captain of our bushfire brigade (a voluntary job - his full-time job currently, is our MP). Our Federal MP is of the opposite party but actually, I believe they get on well and have worked together on a number of local projects. Our Federal bloke is a lawyer, I believe,. I've met him a few times, including when he was being put on the job for a local project.

    Compulsory or not - there are arguments either way. Frankly, though, I would choose compulsory if only because it forces people to take an interest - as a result, although in Australia we might have a reputation for not giving a stuff about things, we DO get quite hot under the collar about politics. It can be a lot of fun - at least our barbecues can be quite fiery!

  14. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'd be thrilled if our lowest turnout was as much as 59.1%! One theory is that the point of the negative ad campaigns is to encourage voter apathy and discourage voter turnout.

    Check out these numbers for our primary elections last winter and spring. It's disgusting.

  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We had a surfeit of negative ad campaigns for our last election, but we still had to vote. Some people went in with a sense of, "I wish I didn't have to do this," while others went in with a sense of determination to bring about change, ANY change. I think in our situation, we would have still had a moderately large voter turnout if it wasn't compulsory for us, because in our situation there was a lot of strong feeling against the incumbent, who would have stayed in power if the vote hadn't gone against him. In Australia, we don't have a limit on the number of terms a leader can stay in office. We were fully expecting our then PM to lose the election at the end of 2001, I'm sure he was expecting it as well; he was in Washington on Sept 11, scheduled to address Congress - a really big feather in his cap to try and send a message to the Australian people, "Look! Even the US thinks I'm important!" He had run out of rabbits to pull out of his hat, it was his last attempt to hang onto power.

    After the tragedy of the planes the PM's address to Congress got cancelled, of course. There were far more important things for the US to worry about, frankly. But it didn't matter to him - when our PM finally got back to Australia, with the world on the sort of alarm footing it hasn't been for decades, he had the election in the bag. Countries tend to NOT change leaders when in such a state of international crisis. So it took us another 7 years to see a change of leader for Australia. By the time of our last election, he could have been the most brilliant and popular leader in the world, and I think he still would have lost - Aussies were just sick of the sight and sound of him, I think. So we would have had a bigger turnout anyway, I feel, just to ensure some sort of change.

    Whether to have the vote compulsory or not - at least YOU know that the people who vote are REALLY wanting to exercise their democratic right; they're not just doing it because of a legal compulsion. So maybe this could give you a higher calibre of vote?