It’s civic election season here in Metro Vancouver (and I think throughout the province of British Columbia). That means we’re electing (or re-electing) mayors, city councillors, and school trustees. South of the border, Americans will be heading to the polls next month for the mid-term elections too. Democracy in action, right? Or is it democracy inaction? What if you’re not interested in politics and your eyes just glazed over?
Well, let’s start with this. You’re not alone. A lot of people don’t like politics. They might even hate it. Some people actively avoid getting into anything political, maybe because they think it doesn’t really affect them. Believe me, I get it. I grew up in a household where the narrative said that all politicians are crooks. They’re corrupt, they’re only out for themselves, and they can’t actually help us with anything.
I’ll be honest with you. Aside from a brief brush with the political scene almost 20 years ago, I haven’t been involved in politics at all. And what’s more, I didn’t even know what were the main issues surrounding the 2018 municipal elections here in Burnaby. But I’ve got a young child and these decisions will impact her life (and our lives) now and into the future.
That’s why I attended the all candidates meeting earlier this week. Questions were asked (and answered to a varying degree) about housing affordability, the lack of a homeless shelter, demovictions, sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education, after school care programs, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action, among other topics. This gave me a much better sense not only of the mayoral candidates, but also the candidates for city councillor and school trustee. These are the hot button topics where the line is being drawn in the proverbial sand.
And all of these topics do matter. The housing situation in Metro Vancouver in general and Burnaby in particular is challenging. The curriculum and programs in our schools matter. Should we have laneway houses? Is it a good idea to fund public projects with condo developer money instead of taxpayer money?
As I sat there in the school gymnasium, quietly taking this all in, I could help but notice the demographics of those in attendance. Broadly speaking, they were mostly older and Caucasian, and many were visibly union folk. I think it’s great that they are actively participating in our democracy, but our city’s population is much more diverse than that. Everyone deserves a voice, but your voice will only be heard if you choose to speak up.
Even if you don’t like it, especially if you don’t like it, politics matter.
So get out there and vote.