From the chair: Why it is important to vote

Andrew Gower

Special to The Record

Democracy is a fragile thing. In countries around the world, democracy is an ideal that is fought for; a goal for a nation to achieve. In Canada we are extremely lucky to have our own unique version of democracy. It is a system where a majority vote will elect a government, but where the rights of minorities are still respected and protected by law.

I spent 11 years of my life in uniform in the Canadian Army, including five years at military college and six years as a combat engineer officer. During that time I was deployed on disaster response missions twice: once to the floods in Winnipeg in 1997, and a second time to the ice storms in Quebec in 1998. I also trained solders in combat leadership, helped prepare soldiers for deployment to Bosnia, and spent most of my time in the Army away from home.

I did all of this because I, along with my fellow soldiers, believed so strongly in this thing we have created called Canada that we were willing to give our lives for it. That is what members of the Canadian Forces agree to when they enlist. They agree to defend our democracy and national interests in the ways that our elected governments decide. After a decade in Afghanistan, this defence of democracy resulted in the death of 158 service people and the injury of many more. In many other operations, the two world wars and the Korean War, many thousands of Canadian men and women gave their lives for the sake of our democracy.

Yet even with the above knowledge, many Canadians don’t vote in our federal elections. In the most recent federal election, only 61.1 per cent of registered voters showed up. If you consider that the current government won with only 39.62 per cent of the popular vote, more people did not vote at all than voted for the party that formed government. In our local riding, the statistics are especially depressing for the younger generations. In 2011 only 38.8 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 cast ballots. The 25-34 age range isn’t much better at 45.1 per cent of eligible voters.

The total number of eligible voters under 35 in Courtenay alone who did not vote is 2,631. The margin of victory in our riding in the last election was only 1,827 votes. It is easy to see that getting the so-called “youth vote” out could make a big difference in the upcoming election.

For the many who complain that their vote doesn’t count, the deciding margin in our riding in the last election was only three per cent. There are other ridings where it is much closer. In 2011, in the riding of Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamourask-Rivére du Loup in Quebec, the margin of victory for the winning candidate was nine votes! In the riding of Winnipeg North, it was a 45-vote win.

Your vote does count, and participating in our democratic process is vitally important to its success.

The Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce is co-hosting, along with the Record, an All Candidates’ debate on Oct. 5 at the Sid Williams Theatre starting at 6  p.m. for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Thanks to our sponsors My Tech Guys, Prestige Video and the Sid Williams Theatre. A second All Candidates’ Forum will be held on Oct.  8 in Campbell River at the Tidemark Theatre for the new North Island-Powell River riding. On behalf of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, I encourage everyone to come out and learn about their local candidates.

VOTE!

 

 

Andrew Gower is the chair of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cumberland Brewery is looking to expand its patio space temporarily for the summer. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland Brewery looks for temporary patio expansion

Move would allow business to spread customers outside in summer months

School District 71’s final budget for this school year showed more revenue from distance learning students but less from traditional classroom registration. Record file photo
Comox Valley Schools’ budget grant almost $5.5 million higher than planned

Increase came from a boost in distributed learning rather traditional registration

A&W on Ryan Road confirmed a positive case of COVID-19 at their restaurant and temporarily shut its doors. Google Maps photo
Courtenay restaurant temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure

It’s the latest business in the Valley to be affected by the virus

The CSRHD board moved closer to passing a budget with a $4.4 million cut to the tax requisition. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona hospital district moves on budget with tax cut

At $12.6 million, budget requisition represents drop of $4.4 million for current year

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton, standing at right, sits on steering committees of two organizations that are tackling the problem of greenhouse gas emissions. File photo
Courtenay councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay councillor Will Cole-Hamilton wants local governments to carry a little more… Continue reading

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read