The most animated that my family gets comes during election time. Growing up with a family of teachers, a social justice centered mother, nurses, immigrants, incredibly vocal students and the odd farmer tossed in there, every two years, dinner discussion is dedicated for talking about municipal, provincial, or federal elections.
My first real memories of an election came during the Mike Harris years, mostly hearing about my dad’s experiences on the picket lines, but also seeing how my hometown changed. Dad would come home from a day on the lines and I would listen to my parents talk about the politics during dinner, calmly explaining the different parties and why voting is such a big deal.
My grandmother immigrated over with my grandfather and her three daughters, including my mother, in 1974, during a time that the Azores and Portugal were under a dictatorship. Even after becoming a Canadian citizen, my grandmother has faithfully voted in every single Portuguese election, remembering very clearly the years that Portuguese people could not vote.
Perhaps it is my upbringing from two people who have constantly advocated on poverty and education issues, or perhaps it is that both of my families left horrid political climates to come to Canada.
Maybe it is the fact that we lived on a teacher’s salary until I was in grade 7, or that discussing politics and elections were just a common occurrence in my upbringing, but I cannot imagine a time where I would not vote.
The right to vote is something we as Canadian citizens and citizens of Waterloo Region should not take for granted.
We should be thinking about how our actions will impact the next seven generations to follow.
Think of the things that matter to you right now: the cost of paying off student loans, childcare, accessible transit systems, social services, employment opportunities, the growing needs of your family.
The current policies, services, and systems in place were not decided over night nor were they put in place right after a party was elected. They were created after rounds and rounds of decisions made by people who were elected long before this election.
The people we elect this year will be deciding and creating pieces of legislature that will be discussed during our childrens’ lifetimes.
These are the people that we need to think of when we vote, not just our current situations. What if my child fell below the poverty line as an adult and couldn’t afford childcare for my grandchildren – would I vote the same way?
What if my child was about to leave post secondary education as a teacher or nurse, only to realize that their only option for work was a few precarious contract jobs or retail – would I vote the same way?
What if my child owned a business and red tape just made it impossible for the business to attract clients – would I vote the same way?
We are so fortunate to live in a nation that regularly allows its citizens to exercise their democraticcrights on voting, to be a part of a system that can impact the lives of our childrens’ childrens’ children, not just our current system.