29 November 1999
Pay Up - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
VANCOUVER - Should we, the voting public, pay a fine when we choose not to vote?
Mayor Owen, in his utter brilliance (the writer says sarcastically), has suggested that the municipal voter should be liable to fines if they do not exercise their right to vote. Now, in the past in this column, I have bitched publicly about the apathetic nature of the Canadian voter and their lack of conviction to vote. I think those who choose not to vote are somewhat foolish, but levying a fine on them if they don’t mark that ballot, is utterly inappropriate.
One of the cornerstones of this democracy is choice. Need it be where we want to live or the schmuck we elect to the highest position in the land, we can do as we wish.
In my almost 5 months inhabiting this column, 5 days a week, I approach this issue with a great deal of difficulty. Making voting compulsory would be an ideal plan for us to take up, but attaching a fine would be abhorrent to a democratic society. At least, one that I would want to live in.
As the article in the November 23, 1999 edition of The Vancouver Sun said, we’d be taking up the example of democracy in Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands, but we’d also be taking up the example of undemocratic nations like Argentina, Ecuador and El Salvador. In a democracy we can choose whether we want to vote, but in Mayor Owen’s ideal democracy, we’d be abusing those rights and rendering our society a failing bill of health.
An editorial in the same paper suggested that instead of this foolishness, we adopt a ward system. A ward system would be like our federal or provincial system where this town is divided into regions. I don’t think a ward system is a good idea either. If we cut up this town into ridings or something to that effect, we’ll end up with jockeying, like the provincial and federal races. We’ll turnoff more voters than we’ll attract, plus it’s been put to referendum twice, and the responses were mild at best. We’ll then bitch and complain like we do with the other elections.
There is no solution. None at all. Don’t ask me, because I just write the damn things. What we can do though, to shut His Worship up and please everyone, is get out and vote and put this bugger of a ward system and this silly compulsory voting deal, to rest.
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