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Guest column: Rage Against the (Political) Machine

Written by Zenee Maceda
Sunday, 18 October 2015

Election Day is tomorrow, and the media’s focus has inevitably turned towards young people, who are relentlessly encouraged and reminded about our civic duty to exercise our right to vote. We are told that voting is essential to ensuring a functioning democracy, and that we must vote because it is incumbent upon citizens to play an active role in determining who should represent us in Parliament.

We are scolded for our political “apathy” and reminded that we must vote because in the last federal election, less than 39 percent of eligible young voters helped shape the political, social, and economic landscape of Canada.

However, this rigid definition of formal political participation undermines the political groundwork of those who have chosen other means to shape public policies and the political discourse in Canada. As such, I resent the assumption among some that young people are apathetic.

Over the last five years, some of the most well organized public protests against the increasing income gap between the rich and poor, institutionalized anti-Black racism and Islamophobia in Canada, misogyny and gender violence, and anti-worker labour laws were led by young people, so the assumption that youth “don’t care” about politics is simply not true.

With that being said, in the 2011 Federal Election only 18 percent (eighteen freaking percent!) of eligible voters voted for Stephen Harper and his Conservative government. So, while I believe that casting a ballot isn’t the only way to participate in political action, and while I also believe that casting a ballot isn’t the only way to express one’s political beliefs, I think that this is a critical juncture for those of us who live in Canada.

After ten years of living under one of the most anti-democratic, xenophobic, and ideologically conservative governments in Canadian history, this election is an opportunity to mobilize our votes to oppose the Harper Conservatives and end their disastrous reign in power.

Tomorrow, I am not voting to fulfill any political obligation or duty to vote.

Instead, I am voting against a government that has abdicated its responsibility to govern in a fair and transparent way. I am voting against a government that uses the logic and discourse of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia to exacerbate public fear of racial and cultural differences in Canada. I am voting against a government that has tried to perpetuate the assumption thatindividual success is achieved through the preservation of personal wealth. I am voting against a government that has shaped social policies with a conservative ideology that has badly disenfranchised poor immigrants of colour and temporary migrant workers.

On October 19, I am voting to express my rage against the Conservative political machine. If you feel the same way about our government, I encourage you to get out and vote.

Zenee Maceda is a community organizer and labour activist based in Toronto. She obtained her master’s degree after studying at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute. Zenee is also involved with the women’s rights and human rights movements in Toronto in different capacities, as a member of several community organizations and youth groups.

 

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