British Columbia’s first provincial general election was held in 1871.
3,804 British Columbians voted in that election, around the same number as the 2013 election.
Okay that’s an exaggeration but voter turnout in the 2013 election was a historically low 52%. In 1871 only men who owned property could vote, and it took until 1917 for certain women to win their right.
In 1949 all women and men, including Aboriginals, Chinese-Canadians, Japanese-Canadians, and Hindus, were allowed to vote after being disenfranchised. Playoff hockey has been around longer. The Stanley Cup is 125 years old while voting rights for all is a mere 68 years old.
I vote. I vote every chance I get. Municipal, provincial, federal, referendums, I’m all over it. But I enjoy politics. Come election time I began to follow the parties with a voraciousness reserved for hockey fans during playoffs.
Quoting an MLA’s position on Oil & Gas development is like speaking of Sidney Crosby’s best year (apparently Sid the Kid is currently in the midst of it). I try to learn as much of their platforms as possible, which is like reading another language, and I bore my husband into a coma with talk of healthcare policies and environmental regulations.
If people choose to stay home on May 9th and watch Ottawa at New York, instead of getting out to vote, that’s understandable.
Politics and politicians are not overly accessible. They speak and write in jargon, and it can sometimes feel like they are more concerned with towing party lines than representing their constituents. It makes sense that many citizens are disengaged from the political process. I wish that we could unite behind a political party the way we do behind NHL teams. But we don’t because, unlike politics, hockey is accessible. It’s a part of our daily lives. The kids play hockey, our friends and family play or have played. We can relate to the players more than a political candidate. Hockey is a major part of our identity. It unites us, gives us hope, especially during playoffs when we rally behind a team simply because they’re Canadian.
Some social media platforms are paving the way for politics and politicians to become a bit more accessible. There’s a group on Facebook called Double Blind and they have a video that breaks down British Columbia’s party platforms and highlights key issues for the 2017 election in plain English. It’s incredibly informative and only seven minutes long, well worth a watch.
On May 9th, after I set the PVR to record Ottawa at New York, I’m heading down to the voting station to cast my ballot and I hope the majority of British Columbians will do the same.