It is Your Duty to Vote


I feel privileged every day that I live in a free, just and democratic country. I take nothing for granted in my life, and when it is an election in my city, province or country, I take my privilege to vote very seriously.

As I write, it is late afternoon on Thursday, June 7th. It is election day in the province of Ontario, and it’s been a hard fought (sometimes nasty) campaign. I am not going to use this space to share my opinion on which candidates or political party would be better for the province of Ontario. I don’t support any specific political party and choose who I vote for very carefully. Whether it’s at the municipal, provincial or federal level, day to day I am non-partisan and support candidates and elected officials for various reasons.

Again, who I actually voted for today is not relevant here and I am not sharing my choice. What is relevant is that I voted. I always vote. It always amazes me that so many people in countries like Canada choose not to vote. Whether your candidate of choice wins or loses, I believe that all citizens who are the age of majority are obligated to cast a vote.

For example, only 52% of eligible citizens voted in Ontario’s last provincial election back in June of 2014. Federal election turnout was better three years ago when 68% of eligible voters cast a ballot. Media reported “higher voter turnout” after Toronto’s 2014 election, which saw 60% of eligible voters participate.

Why should we be satisfied with a turnout of 60%? Shouldn’t we strive for 100% participation, or close to it? If someone can’t vote on election day, there are ample opportunities to cast a vote before. Or remotely. Our democracy doesn’t just encourage us to vote, it obligates us to do so.

I remember watching the news about 15 years ago when open elections came to Iraq. This was a country that was under brutal autocratic rule for years. There was no such thing as open, free and fair elections for the people. Iraq was still a dangerous place after the regime was toppled. Democracy was in its infancy. And there were elections.

People waited in line for hours, and many of them risked their lives just to cast a vote. Polling stations and those long lines were often attacked. Scores of people were killed. But they had to vote, or at least they had to try. I remember reading the stories and watching on TV and was in awe. The ability to vote was so easy for me, living in an established democracy like Canada. How could I not always vote? How could every Canadian not always vote?

And yet many do not. I hope the voter turnout increased today from its previous number of just 52%. The provincial government in Ontario is going to change today. Many people will be happy and a large number will be angry. But in my mind, unless you voted you do not have a right to complain about your government. The person for whom I cast my vote may or may not win. The party of my choice may or may not be in power tomorrow, . but I participated in the process. And I always will.

**That’s my grandfather, age 97 (98 in a few weeks!) voting today. He is someone who taught me the importance of voting.

Who Elects our Leaders

who elects our leaders


When I created Kinetic Motions I decided to focus on various topics, including sports, travel, family and general musings. I thought I would avoid more hot-button topics like politics. I am not politically active, I don’t support a particular political party and I consider myself someone who has an open mind. Countries like Canada, United States, Britain and France are all democracies (though they are different kinds of democracies, such as a Republic or Constitutional Monarchy) and all have held federal elections in the last couple of years. I read a lot of news, watch a lot of coverage on TV and listen to many debates on the radio and today I ask myself, who elects our leaders?

The quick answer is simple – we, the people, do. That’s common sense as at the end of the day, the citizens who are the age of majority directly or indirectly decide who elects our leaders.

But, in reality it’s not that simple. Shaking hands at community events, knocking on doors, dropping leaflets in mailboxes and even personalized phone calls will not get you elected in 2017 (or 2015 or 2016). Maybe that was never enough to get you elected. While I think that mass media has always played a role in influencing political campaigns, never before over the last few years, have I seen media – traditional, online and social – play such a huge role to determine who elects our leaders.

In a democracy, it’s not just important it is imperative that we are educated about politics, that we vote and that we question our government’s actions. But have media become obsessed with doing that? For the last few years I can’t turn on the news on TV, check my Twitter feed or log on to a news website without finding headlines about the American political leadership in particular but also about scandals or battles between politicians in other countries around the world.

Without any statistics to back me up, I would say that a majority of journalists, bloggers and political analysts spoke out strongly, forcefully and often against one candidate in particular in the American Presidential election in 2016. Words such as liar, arrogant, buffoon or egotistical are some that I remember hearing and reading in their bid to discredit this individual. But could it be that their obsession with this candidate, their derogatory attitude and comments pushed a large number of disenchanted voters in the opposite direction and that these said journalists, bloggers and political analysts may actually have helped this individual win the election?

Could the same be true in other democracies? Has the obsession with certain candidates, whether they are liked or despised by media, influenced the outcome of the election in an obvious way? And does that obsession continue even after an individual is elected? In the case of the American elections I would say yes. Let’s continue to hold our political candidates and elected leaders accountable, but let’s also be responsible about how we do that – so that we, the people, can make a fair, educated and reasonable choice.