The Canadian Federal election takes place on October 19, 2015.
Although I'm currently living in France, I made a point to order my voting kit and dropped off my vote at the local Embassy so that it will be counted in the final tally. That required photocopying and sending in some identification documents, waiting for the package in the mail, learning about the candidates in the riding where we we last lived in Ontario, filling out the ballots according to the very specific instructions, and then dropping them off at the Canadian Embassy in Paris.
Was it a hassle? No, it wasn't.
Voting is something I have never taken for granted, because it is a privilege that not everyone shares. Unfortunately, if I stay in Paris long enough it will be a privilege no longer extended to me, either if the newly changed law stands.
Why? Well, as an expat, the law has recently been changed to forbid Canadians who have lived out of the country for more than 5 years from voting in federal elections. A version of this law has been in place for a long while, but in the past a visit back to Canada could reset the five years. No longer. Those of us who leave the country for an extended period of time are effectively disenfranchised. I have a serious problem with that.
To be honest, I don't know if I will be living in Paris in five years or not. Still, he thought that I could possibly be barred from voting in the country I was born in and lived in for almost 40 years before moving makes me angry. I grew up, was educated, worked, bought property, met my husband, and had my kids in Canada. My family still lives there. I will probably move back at some point in the future. The argument that expats are not as interested in what happens politically in the country is upsetting to me because Canada will always be a country that I am invested in on the most personal level, and my Canadian citizenship should provide me with the right to vote, regardless of where I may reside.
Every federal election is important, but there seems to be something particularly noteworthy about this one. I have been dismayed by some of the campaign issues that have come to dominate the headlines to the detriment of more pressing ones. The niqab debate, the "barbaric practices" concern, claims that brothels and marijuana depots will take over the country should the conservatives lose, and so on. Creating a campaign out of fear and divisiveness is deeply concerning to me. Fear of the other is a tired, outdated tactic used to distract from the real, more pressing issues. Unfortunately, it often works.
Personally, I want to hear parties debate the new trade deal whose details are being held under wraps until after the election, the law that allows Canadians and their children to be stripped of their citizenship under certain circumstances, environmental issues, the muzzling of scientists, and so, so much more. These issues are set to take Canada in a radical new direction, and are the real issues that should be considered when casting your vote. Personally, I think it's time for change. What about you?
On October 19th Canadians have the chance to make their voices heard. I made sure that mine was. Don't miss your opportunity to do the same. Need more information on how to ensure you're registered, where to vote, polling times, or anything else regarding the election? Go to the Elections Canada Website.