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Your Vote

Thursday July 10, 2014

It’s been a strange few months.

To be honest, part of me doesn’t feel like acknowledging what has happened in a column because I feel like it’s been addressed enough on social media, but this isn’t social media.

This is a column in a newspaper, it’s not something that is posted instantaneously online in a blog or on a Facebook status update.

There is a huge responsibility on my part for what I write in this paper, this column. I would never write anything inappropriate, I wouldn’t try painting any one subject, or a race of people, with one brush.

So getting down to it, it’s no surprise that a lot of people became immediately upset, disturbed, angry, and horrified at what appeared in the daily newspaper in Thunder Bay a month ago.

That now infamous ad by the Ontario Libertarian party that made national news and sprung a media conference, an anti-racism rally, and a lot of angry posts and messages on social media because of the content.

And judging from an interview the candidate did with CBC’s Jody Porter, the content wasn’t very informed, as the candidate said she has only read a book about Indigenous people in Mexico, and did not read about Section 35 of the Constitution nor the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People.

Nevertheless, the content still irked readers.

I was very surprised at how in your face and wrong that ad seemed because it was, in my humble opinion, in my face and just plain wrong.

It was a full-page coloured ad with a full body shot of the candidate leaning against a barstool in a power suit, alongside 11 statements that perturbed the city and First Nations leaders who claimed it was blatant racism.

The paper explained why it had to run the ad in a letter and not everyone agreed with it.

Supporters, and non-supporters, of the ad claimed “freedom of speech,” which is something I have no qualms with. People are able to say what they want, to an extent at least, and that’s great.

It’s just sometimes the way people who handle the response they get for voicing their opinion makes me worry.

If someone states their opinion ever so publicly, and it isn’t agreed with by most, they lay down the “freedom of speech” defense yet there is no freedom of speech for those who oppose or question it. There is no room for compromise or open discussion. They are banished, deleted, blocked.

Who wants that authoritarian quality in any elected leader?

“My way or the highway.”

Well, nine-hundred-and-twenty-two voters agreed with the ad and the rhetoric in it.

And they are entitled to their vote, their choice on Election Day. That is the world we live in.

I’ve seen one very vocal supporter online state that 922 people went out in the rain to support “truth and equality” on Election Day and only 25 went to support a June 26 anti-racism rally on a sunny day.

As if that comparison makes any sense.

More than 900 people may have went out in the rain to vote for the Libertarian party and their beliefs, and to support those 11 statements that appeared in the ad, but more importantly 26,761 people went out in the rain and did not vote for them.

The 26, 761 voters chose otherwise.

The 26, 761 people made a different choice.

I think that’s what people need to focus on, that’s what we need to remember.

Yes, statements you will read online, and sometimes in the paper, will make you angry. They will make you upset, they will make you want to vent and in some cases, judging from the screenshots that appeared on the Libertarian candidate’s social media profile, can make you send threats.

Threats are uncalled for.

There is no reason to send anybody threats.

I know it’s sometimes hard to pay attention to politics, and it can be easier to not utilize your vote but this last election shows just how important your vote is.

It shows just how important it is to pay attention to who is the running, to what their views are, to how them potentially being in power will affect you.

Though, according to one well-known individual on Twitter, what her platform entailed was
“comparable to a teen promising a three-day school week at a student council election, you have no jurisdiction,” she was still able to run on said platform in this past election.

We can all register to vote, we can cast ballots. We have that option to vote, to choose.

As ugly as this last election got, it’s awakened something in myself at least that proves just how much a vote counts, how important it is to pay attention to who is eyeing up leadership roles.

I hope some of you also realize how important your voice and how much your vote matters, too.
Municipal elections are happening this fall in the city of Thunder Bay.

I, for one, will definitely be paying a lot more attention to who gets my vote and who doesn’t.

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