“I either want less corruption, or more chance to participate in it.”
On October 19 Canadians go to the polls. The race (at the time I’m writing this) is very close, and whichever party wins will likely form a minority government.
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about not voting. There are a lot of reasons (excuses) people use about not voting from “my vote doesn’t matter” to “they’re all the same, what difference does it make?” And while I understand the apathy and frustration, I don’t understand how people of voting age would give up their democratic right to cast their ballot.
I started voting the minute I became of voting age. I believe it to be our civic duty to contribute to democracy, no matter how broken we think it is.
Of course, this isn’t just about poz folk voting. Everyone who is eligible should vote. This is our chance to make a political statement about who we think is most suitable to govern. And with all the various issues, from global warming and oil sands, to jobs, the economy and health care, to me it’s even more vital than ever that people get themselves out and vote.
I won’t suggest for whom anyone should vote, each of us makes that decision on our own. However, there are things to consider and questions you can ask before making your choice. Remember that while candidates are attached to political parties (mostly), it’s the candidate themselves that is representing your riding to Ottawa.
- Which candidate best reflects your values?
- Which candidate supports the work of not-for-profits (including HIV groups)?
- Which candidate supports GLBTQ issues?
- Which candidate has supported HIV work in your community?
- What are the stances of the various candidates on issues that are important to you?
- Which Party platform is most “in tune” with your sensibilities?
Of course, there are many other things you might consider - all of those have personal meaning to you and the community in which you live.
For those of us living with HIV, the issues aren’t really much different; but we might add a few questions about the thoughts of the candidate (and Party) on
- criminalization of HIV
- the availability of PreP
- the equitable distribution of HIV meds across the country (e.g. a National HIV treatment plan)
- reproductive issues and HIV,
- safe consumption sites, and more...
And it doesn’t matter your socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity, voting is your way to make a statement about your personal beliefs.
There are many ways to find out what the Party platforms are - call the local candidate’s office, go online and read for yourself, attend candidate debates, follow Twitter feeds or check out Facebook pages.
And after all my ranting many people will still think their vote means nothing. To those people I say “then don’t complain when things go sideways”. If you don’t like what you see in politics - be part of the change you want to see, be a part of the common voice and exercise your right to be heard.
And ask questions. It’s your right.