Mandatory voting finds cool reception in political province

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CRA poll finds Islanders opposed to law forcing citizens to cast ballots

Elections Canada ballot box

Islanders take their voting seriously, especially in federal and provincial elections. Nowhere else in Canada are the turnouts higher with percentages usually in the low to mid 80s.

When hurricane Juan blasted the province early in the morning of provincial election day Sept. 29, 2003, more than 83 per cent of eligible voters braved power outages, downed trees and other obstacles to reach polling stations. It was an amazing turnout and the rest of Canada looked on in awe to see our polls open on time, with candlelight only at many locations.

There was a time in provincial elections when the turnout would be close to 90 per cent in some districts. While we take voting seriously, we also have serious issues with anyone telling us we have to vote or support any law that makes it mandatory to cast ballots or face punishment.

At least that is the result of a Corporate Research Associates poll taken on mandatory voting across Canada. More than 70 per cent of Islanders oppose the measure, the highest opposition in Canada to the proposal.

Islanders must wonder why such a measure is needed, given the extraordinary turnouts to cast ballots here. But when the national turnout was approximately 62 per cent in the federal election in 2011, it does give cause for concern. The CRA poll did note that 22 countries, including Australia, have a mandatory voting law.

We cherish our democracy and our freedoms, which includes the right whether we vote or not. Being told we have to vote or face punishment seems contradictory for a democracy.

But when turnouts start to approach 50 per cent in some jurisdictions, there is a growing opinion that to ensure citizens do vote, and continue to take some interest in what politicians say and who will represent us, then yes, such a law may be in the best interests of the nation.

After all, we have to pay taxes, take a driver’s test, register our vehicles and do all kinds of things required by law that we might not like or think is necessary, but we do them. Is voting any different or is it even more essential we continue to support our democracy by making the effort to vote, whether we like it or not.  

We are often admonished “if you don’t vote, then don’t complain.” If more and more of us don’t vote, there’s always a dictator waiting in the wings to fill the void.


Joie de vivre to depart


The Confederation Centre of the Arts is losing its well-known “joie de vivre.” Wade Lynch is much more than just the associate artistic director at the centre. He seemed to be everywhere and involved in everything for a number of years. The popular entertainer always played a key role on or off stage for most productions.

But the time is soon coming to say goodbye as Mr. Lynch is leaving the province in May. He is well-known for playing characters such as The Queen, Tony Whitcomb and Ebenezer Scrooge with great flair and humour.

His departure leaves a huge void for the centre which marks its 50th anniversary this year. The centre will be really turning the corner on a new direction as  Anne Allan, the artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival, also recently announced she is leaving at the end of this season.

It really won’t be the same without the funny and talented Mr. Lynch at the centre which faces a major challenge in finding a replacement. But change is usually a good thing and now it’s time for someone else to put his or her own stamp on the Confederation Centre.

Organizations: Corporate Research Associates, Confederation Centre

Geographic location: Canada, Australia, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • And What If
    January 27, 2014 - 12:20

    And what if we don't think we actually still have democracy . It sure doesn't seem like we do here on PEI . Just what would change with a dictator . They might even reduce the takers and balance our books after they take their cut . It might be better for the rest of us non trough feeders . Our present system is sure not working the way it is suppose to . A new start from scratch might be just what we need .