OUR VIEW: Grumble about elections – then vote

It’s easy to get cynical about our democracy

As the acrimonious machinations of federal Parliament spun inevitably into Canada’s third national election campaign in five years, most voters just shrugged their shoulders.

Wearied by years of recession and recovery, higher fuel prices, a yo-yoing dollar, escalating international conflicts and maybe even Charlie Sheen’s ranting, they just want the politicians to do their jobs.

The politicians are quick to blame each other for the $300 million expense of another election that is as likely as not to end up with the very same or similar result as the previous two minority Conservative governments.

In British Columbia, voters face the daunting prospect of as many as three trips to the polls this year—the federal election, municipal elections in November and a possible provincial election if new premier Christy Clark makes good on her pledge to seek an early mandate. We’ll even have a mail-in referendum on the HST in June.

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Bahrain and any number of dictatorial states feeling the stirrings of democracy should have such problems.

As we whine about campaign signs being erected on public boulevards, or vitriolic attack ads cluttering our TV viewing, Egyptians are still trying to figure out what their successful ouster of their president means to their country and Libyans trying to free themselves from the murderous 42-year reign of Muammar Gaddafi are dodging bullets.

For most voters election campaigns are a series of contrived photo opportunities and divisive rhetoric, a test of endurance rather than a celebration of democracy. It’s easy to get cynical about our parliamentary system when it’s all we know. Every time we get the chance to vote, we are given the opportunity to enact change. No international sanctions or no-fly zones required. It’s worth thinking about that when we ponder whether to tune out this federal election.

— New Westminster Leader

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