If you don’t vote, don’t complain

October 6, 2011 at 5:17 pm Leave a comment

Today is election day in Ontario, an opportunity to have our say in who represents us in provincial parliament for the next term. As Luisa D’Amato wrote in today’s Waterloo Region Record, “Voting is a form of free speech… a collective decision about where your community stands and what it believes in.” It’s a right that too many disregard or don’t care to take a part in, and yet, even those who take no interest are affected by what happens in provincial politics.

My polling station is close enough to walk and on this beautiful sunny day, I took the opportunity to get some exercise and walked there. I arrived midmorning and learned that I was the 29th person to vote in my poll area. I showed my ID, handed over the card that came in the mail, and got my ballot. (Having worked in other elections, I know how helpful those cards can be.) I marked my ballot, refolded it as asked and dropped it in the large ballot box.

The poll station was not overly busy at this time and so I chatted briefly with the women, one of whom is my neighbour. I inquired if many names had been stroked off from early polls and they indicated there had been a good number of them, and the one who had worked in advance polls said it had been quite busy.

Further to history in voting, D’Amato noted years when immigrants were given permission to vote.  It wasn’t only immigrants who needed to fight for their vote. Women in Manitoba finally received permission in 1916 under the Bill for Enfranchisement of Women, passed by a unanimous vote, but after much groundwork laid by women suffragettes. A few months later, Alberta and Saskatchewan passed bills allowing women to vote in federal elections. Quebec women had to wait until 1940 to get their vote. Women also received the right to run for office.

Nellie McClung, of Chatsworth, Ontario, was a member of two organizations, the Canadian Women’s Press Club and the Political Equity League. McClung, though she lived a peaceful family life, had not been blind to the needs of other women. She and four other women (known as “The Famous Five”) fought the Person’s case all the way to the Privy council in Britain, and in 1929, the council reversed this decision, callng it barbarous to exclude women.

Agnes McPhail, of Grey County, Ontario, was the first woman to  be a member of Parliament and one of the first two women to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. She promoted prison reform, disarmament and international relations, old age pensions; she established the Elizabeth Fry Society.

Much work has been done to achieve the vote for women, and the right to run for government, which women in our community have been taking up. Voting is a privilege that many women in the world do not enjoy; voting is also a responsibility. Why would we neglect it?


Entry filed under: government. Tags: , , .

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