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  Weekly Feature: June 5, 2004
 

 
Canada's Federal Elections
Helen's Weekly Feature

 

Why vote?

“We cannot work or eat or drink; we cannot buy or own anything; we cannot go to a ball game or a hockey game or watch TV without feeling the effects of government. We cannot marry or educate our children, cannot be sick, born or buried without the hand of government somewhere intervening.” Senator Eugene Forsey—from his handbook How Canadians Govern Themselves (5th Edition)

Voting is the way we choose who will represent us in government. Elected representatives will ultimately govern how citizens live together. The right to vote is a basic right in a democratic society. It is vital that members of governments be elected and thus accountable to its citizens—the electors.

Voting is a powerful way to influence who will govern and how they will do that. Every vote counts, so every voter is important to making the election process valid.

By casting your ballot, you send the message that those elected need to be responsive to the issues you care about.

Who Can Vote?

You can vote in a Canadian federal election if you are a Canadian citizen and 18 years old or older by June 28, 2004.

You should be on the voters list to vote. The National Register of Electors is a database of basic information about Canadians who are qualified to vote. The information consists of name, sex, date of birth, and address. This information is used to prepare the preliminary list of voters.

If you have provided this information, you will receive a voter information card in the mail soon after the election is called. If you don’t receive this card, simply call Elections Canada at 1-800 463-6868 —toll free.

To find your electoral district go to Elections Canada and find a space to type in your postal code. This link will provide the information you need, including the name of your MP (member of Parliament) and the names of the candidates in your riding. Here, you will also find a list of all registered Political Parties and their leaders.

Why Vote?

“The legitimacy of a government lies in the fact that it is elected. Low voter turnouts may call into question this democratic legitimacy.” —Elections Canada

Youth Too?

It’s important that young Canadians vote. Research shows that only ¼ of 18-24-year-olds voted in the last general election. That means that 75% of our youth did not participate in choosing their representatives in government. Read more about this at Young Voters

Election slang, jargon, slogans:

Check out Susan Munroe’s Guide to Canada Online Glossary Terms on Elections in Canada.

—“First past the post” — the candidate with the most votes in an election wins a seat in the House of Commons. (Federal) The leader of the party which wins the highest number of seats is asked to form the government.
in dead heat — tied — equal numbers
PMO — Prime Minister’s Office
pundit — a commentator on political affairs (activities)
social safety net — government assistance programs
Grit — Liberal Party member
Tory — Progressive Conservative Party member
Husting — any place where a candidate meets with electorate
Boondoggle — government-sponsored make-work project or program — usually refers to a project that loses money or fails its purpose
Two-tier — one level of social service offered free (for taxes), another for extra fees
Universality — free access for all people to government services and programs regardless of income levels
24 Sussex Prime Minister’s official residence in Ottawa
sustainable & affordable — being able to keep this present level of public services e.g. health care
campaign trail- Series of appearances and speeches made by candidates
party standings — which is first, second etc. in number of vote

Election Vocabulary you may hear or read:

Candidate — one who is campaigning for election

Political party — political group organized to campaign for election

Registered party —officially listed with the chief Electoral Officer —gives political status and brings with it certain obligations and benefits

Election platform —basic policies a party offers to electors

Riding —Geographical area represented by MP

Electoral districts —geographical divisions represented by MPs (308 in Canada)

Scrutineer —the one who carefully examines the conduct and results of a ballot (at the polling station)

Returning officer — responsible for the preparation and conduct of an election in a specific electoral district

Intervene —prevent or modify the course of events or results

Campaign —organized action to get public interest Enumeration —number one by one —e.g. names on voters’ list

Federal Elections Vocabulary Quiz 1

Federal Elections Vocabulary Quiz 2

Election Links:

Elections Canada

About Canada's Elections

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

Canada's Parliament

 

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Adjectives and Adverbs

 

Weekly Feature Index (Includes all 2002-2004 Weekly Features with descriptions)

 

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