Pooch Poo Politics

Image depicting dog taking a dump This morning, just like every other morning, I walked the Mawlers: our exuberent 90 pound Golden Retriever. Our route is consistent and predictable, much like her constitution and the likelihood that my pockets will contain at least two plastic bags. Upon completion of our task, we commenced our journey homeward past a cornucopia of brightly coloured election lawn signs. The choices, Matt Young for the supposiTories, John Fraser for the Bleeding Hearts, Bronwyn Funiciello for the Trotskyites and Matt Lakatos-Hyward for the Treehuggers, pretty much sums up the lacklustre choice afforded electors.

Taking stock of the bright colours which adorned each placard, (blue, red, orange and green respectively), irony rocketed through my brain faster than Oprah at an open buffet. As I considered the payload I was carrying in the tell-tale doggie-bag which hung by my right side, it occurred to me that the bag's contents was roughly the same colour that would result from an additive mixture of the partisan colours displayed on the election lawn signs. I can only surmise that the outcome of today's election will be qualitatively similar.

I do take exception to the ill-thought-out commentaries of media personalities, such as CBC's Jian Ghomeshi who, in the monologue of his June 11th episode of Q, asserted that "if we don't participate [by voting] what business do we have complaining" and "if we don't vote, we deserve whatever mess we get". Ghomeshi's soliloquy, it would seem to me, is based upon the misguided presumption that a high voter turnout, by default, necessarily ensures good government. Sorry Jian, it does not. So before you blame Ontario's woes on the apolitical or apathetic elector, here are a few facts you should consider:

First, the democratic rights of citizens, as expressed through the rights of a citizen to vote for or seek membership in a legislative assembly, are entrenched in Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Voting is a right Jian, not an obligation, and it's no coincidence that the document makes reference to both "rights" and "freedoms". And inasmuch as you have the right to vote, you also have the freedom NOT to vote.

Second, the Ontario Election Act specifically provides a mechanism through which qualified electors, upon presenting themselves at a polling station, may decline to accept their ballot. Accordingly, section 53 of the Act provides that: "An elector who has received a ballot and returns it to the deputy returning officer declining to vote, forfeits the right to vote and the deputy returning officer shall immediately write the word "declined" upon the back of the ballot and preserve it to be returned to the returning officer and shall cause an entry to be made in the poll record that the elector declined to vote". So Jian, when you ask "if we don't participate, what business do we have complaining" you should probably consider that our right to complain and our freedom to decline a ballot are derived from legislation duly enacted through the democratic process. And in case you're not able to follow the puck there Jian, let me highlight it for you: those rights and freedoms are the very essence of our democracy. I think what's more disturbing, however, is your assertion that "if we don't vote, we deserve whatever mess we get".

Whereas you would advocate that electors must vote for the least deplorable candidate, numerous electors decline their ballot precisely because they view all options as undesirable. In other words, abstinence in a climate of crabs, syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia is more preferable than plugging away simply because you can. So Jian, as you and the unwashed masses mark your ballot today for the candidate that YOU believe will do the least amount of damage in Ontario, please keep in mind that whatever manner of vile actually form the next government, that it was your actions, and those of your like-minded brethren, that have elected the legion of trolls otherwise unworthy of governing. "So no Jian... contrary to your assertions, we do NOT deserve the consequence of YOUR desire to jibe to the trade winds of the least deplorable."

Submitted by Barry Umenema, 12 June 2014