Dear Canada: Here’s why you should join a political party
Only 271,774 Canadians had a say on who the top two candidates on our ballots were in this past election.
Our most recent Canadian federal election was held on October 21. It was especially contentious for many voters who felt strongly about one party or simply against another. In the weeks leading up, many of us took our convictions to social media and then did our part on election day and voted. When it comes to politics, I think we’ve all noticed the sudden rise in interest comes about like clockwork every four years and fizzles out days after the election. This is because many of us don’t realize there’s more we can do, and it starts way before any election— we can join a political party.
What do I mean?
You can register to join the Liberal, Conservative, or NDP party. Joining the party means you get the opportunity to vote for that party’s leader.
That means you can vote for the person who will be the next Liberal, Conservative, or NDP party leader.
Let’s not wait for another federal election to encourage people to vote. Our ballots are so limited by then.
We’ve all heard the complaints:
“There are no good options.”
“Why isn’t there a ‘none of the above’ option on my ballot?”
There are always other candidates, we just can’t leave it till election season to get involved.
For example, we could have had Lisa Raitt run against Justin Trudeau in our recent election instead of Andrew Scheer. Raitt has an impressive career and education (she’s a chemist and a lawyer). She’s a mental health advocate, a self-described feminist, and she was a candidate who ran against Scheer, among others, in the Conservative Party leadership race in 2017.
But most of us didn’t fill out a ballot.
There were 259,010 Conservative party members across Canada, and 141,000 of them voted for their party leader in 2017.
Now let’s take a look at the Liberal Party members. There were approximately 300,000 Liberal party members across Canada and 130,774 registered to vote for their party leader in 2013. These were the other candidates from the Liberal Party leadership race in 2013 when Trudeau was elected.
Let’s put these numbers in perspective: If 141,000 people voted in the Conservative Party leadership race in which Scheer got elected, and 130,774 people voted in the Liberal Party race in which Trudeau got elected, it means that a total of 271,774 Canadians voted for the two biggest party names that would appear on our ballots in this past federal election.
A total of 271,774 people voted in the 2013 Liberal and 2017 Conservative leadership races.
Therefore, the votes of only 271,774 Canadians resulted in Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer being selected as the candidates of the top political parties in our 2019 federal election.
There are more than 27 million Canadians who are eligible to vote. This means we had less than 1.007% of eligible voters choose our top candidates for us.
Only 66% of registered voters actually voted for who would become our Prime Minister for this term. And a total of 271,774 Canadians decided for us what the two most critical names on our ballots would be.
Some of us may be apathetic when it comes to politics. However, it’s clear that most of us just didn’t know there was more we could do.
Now with all that said, there’s a really great takeaway from this:
You really can make a difference. If all Canadian voters joined a political party, we would have a far greater impact on who the names on our ballots would be. The cost of joining a party is minimal. For about $25 you can have your say. It’s a no-brainer.
Let’s get the word out about this until every Canadian knows they can have their say on who their party leaders will be. This way we’ll have no excuse to wait until the week before a major election to have an opinion or complain about the options.
And who knows, maybe joining a party will inspire us to take a much deeper interest in politics and end this superficial partisan rhetoric. If you believe left and right politics are synonymous with good and evil, I encourage you to look beyond media soundbites and your social circle. Let’s become more intellectually motivated. Maybe one day all of us will have political opinions that are as equally well-informed as they are impassioned.
But we’re not entirely to blame. We’re taught that we should never discuss politics on dates, at work, or with new acquaintances. So without practice, how can we learn to keep our emotions in check and have a healthy debate without it getting out of hand? If we spend so much of our lives avoiding these discussions, it’s unsurprising many of us don’t invest the time to take a deeper interest.
Anyway, the bottom line is this: You can make an impact on our country’s politics by joining a party. If you want to be really strategic about it, you can join your least favourite party that has the greatest likelihood of winning. That way you can help improve the status quo by voting for the best (or least worst) candidate in that party’s leadership race.
We simply can’t have 1% of the eligible voters in Canada make these decisions for all of us.
So without further delay, here are the links for the top six parties:
Pro tip: You may want to filter your party’s incoming emails until there’s a leadership race so they don’t flood your inbox. It’s also worth mentioning that if you join a party and you don’t like where things are heading, you’re not obliged to them.