And people wonder why I think voting should be a responsibility — not a right.
Adding more fuel to my fire were Monday’s abysmal voter turnout numbers in a quartet of federal by-elections — two in Ontario and two in Alberta.
Liberals Arnold Chan (Scarborough-Agincourt) and Adam Vaughan (Trinity-Spadina) were declared victors, despite 29.4 per cent and 31.6 per cent voter participation respectively.
If you thought those numbers were paltry, you must not have been paying attention to the by-election battles that were brewing in the Wild Rose Country. Then again, only a handful of eligible voters in the Calgary-based Macleod riding, or the Fort McMurray-Athabasca riding, seemed to know a by-election was taking place.
Even fewer appeared to care.
After winning the Macleod by-election despite only 19.6 per cent of ballots being cast, Conservative John Barlow told reporters, “People, when we were at the doors, just didn’t know it was going on. That was the biggest thing. I don’t think there was voter apathy so much as people genuinely didn’t know it was on.”
So, why didn’t Barlow, or his fellow running mates push harder to make voters aware that a by-election campaign was underway?
I don’t know. Nor do I honestly believe Barlow or fellow Conservative David Yurdiga, who won in Fort McMurray-Athabasca, would have pushed harder to have more people come out to vote.
In Yurdiga’s case, he only received the support of seven per cent of registered voters. Some mandate if you ask me.
Even more insulting to democracy is only 15.2 per cent of Fort McMurray-Athabasca voters cast ballots. Elections Canada believes a new record low voter turnout in Canada was set in the process. These numbers are disgraceful to the democratic process and they flummox me.
The majority of Canadians do not appreciate what they perceive as reckless chatter that propagates during election campaigns at all levels of government, but they should at least let their voices be heard and cast ballots at every opportunity.
Think of people living in countries like North Korea, Iraq and even Ukraine who are restricted from expressing their self-determination in an electoral process. Canada is far from that, but if we are, why don’t all of our eligible voters cast ballots in municipal, provincial and federal elections?
I said it earlier and I will say it again. Voter turnout across our country is abysmal and we should be ashamed of calling ourselves a democratic country when voter turnouts, like they were in the last Moose Jaw municipal elections, are merely worthy of mockery.
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks.