Voter Apathy? No Frickin’ Wonder.

I am an Acadian woman. Acadienne and damn proud of it. I eat fricot and chiard and I talk trash and I cry every time I listen to Zachary Richard. That means I am a francophone living outside of Québec. While I am loathe to describe myself via a negative, here goes nothing: I am NOT Québecoise. Are we all perfectly clear on that point?

Good.

Our country is in the midst of an election campaign and this past week saw the leaders of the four federal parties duke it out in televised national debates. True to Canada’s linguistic make-up (as dictated by our Constitution but not reflective of languages that were here prior to European colonization) there was a debate in English and a debate in French. They dubbed the latter “the French-language debate”.

Oh, really?

The questions brought forth in each debate came from Canadian citizens. I don’t know how they were vetted by the journalists in charge of the debate. I do know, however, that the English-language debate fielded questions from across the country. I also know that the French-language debate featured questions from residents of – wait for it- Québec only. Nothing from Acadie, Franco-Ontario, Métis, Franco-Manitoba…I could go on but you get the idea:  NOTHING.

*screams primally*

How the hell is that acceptable in a French-language debate? How do you justify excluding an entire swath of the country’s population in favour of the province whose residents repeatedly and in great numbers tell us that they want no part of that very country?! Just sayin’.

*bangs head against wall*

But we do know why, don’t we? All the francophone communities outside Québec put together cannot possibly affect the results of the election one way or another. The same as tuition fee hikes don’t matter because students don’t tend to vote in great numbers. The same as there aren’t enough informed and engaged women to rally against the Harper government’s assault on women’s equality programming. The same as how Métis, First Nations and Inuit continue to struggle with poverty, inadequate housing, food insecurity and unsafe drinking water: there aren’t enough of them to make or break anyone’s political aspirations and the rest of Canadians are too bigoted to care, anyway.

It’s a game of numbers. I understand that. And I hate everything about it.

No wonder people are apathetic. Every time we turn around we’re being told by our so-called leaders and our complicit media that we simply do not matter.

So, here’s an idea oh-holy-media-consortium-that-sets-the-rules-for-these-debates: how’s ‘bout next time you call the French-language debate what it really is? The Québec debate.

If I don’t matter to you or to this ever-decaying democratic process, just tell me. At least then I could respect you for being honest and I could tune out for once and for all.

*slams door*

(Well, it’s a virtual slam of a virtual door, but you know what I’m getting at)

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Vote, Woman, Vote or Don’t Make Me Come Over There!

Until May 2nd, I’m going to harass the hell out of my two lovely nieces who live in Ottawa and I want you to do the same. OK, so not exactly the same. Get your own nieces.

I want you to identify two young women in your life; two young women who are of voting age and I want you to do everything in your power to get them to vote.

I don’t even care who they vote for.

OK, so we all know that’s a lie.

But what matters is that they vote, that they pay attention, that they participate.

Some of you may accuse me of being one of those ageing feminists who constantly bemoan the lack of engagement and commitment and awareness of young women today. Something like…oh, I don’t know… (fade out on wavy screen)

In my day we didn’t have voting booths. We gave one shoe to the candidate we wanted and we liked it! All walkin’ around with one shoe for the next year, one foot always cold and dirty, wearing out our socks and developing a limp ‘cause we believed in democracy. That’s how it was and we liked it!

That Dana Carvy…so funny. I also miss Church Lady. She would’ve voted Conservative, for sure.

But where was I? Oh yeah, I was in feminist curmudgeon mode…

So be it. Think that if you like. The fact remains that fewer and fewer people- fewer and fewer women- are exercising their right to vote in this country and that leads to bad government, no matter what political stripe you wear.

Imagine if a full 51% of eligible voters cast their ballot on the basis of what mattered to them: childcare, pay equity, affordable housing, education, hunger, violence, same-sex marriage, indigenous rights and yes, abortion, to name but a smattering (and not to say that all women place equal weight on all of these issues). Imagine the message we would send to our leaders.

We would tell them that they ignore women at their political peril.

Whose voice will you encourage this election?