As we approach November’s municipal election, it is important that we start preparing now as voters.
While the process of voting and casting your ballot may only take a few minutes, the actual process of making an informed decision of choosing your desired candidates to lead the city for the next four years should be an educated and extensive process of research and reflection. The candidates you choose for mayor, councillors, and school board trustees should reflect your values and the direction in which you wish to see your city go.
It seems that often, the time and effort required for a well-functioning democracy is underestimated. Democracy depends on the true engagement of individuals like you and I. This can be reflected through the questions that we ask of our candidates and the research that we do on critical issues affecting our community.
On election day, we should select the name on the ballot based on who we think can help our city progress. Furthermore, we should continue to exercise our political engagement even after we have cast our ballots, so that we can hold our elected officials accountable for the promises they made prior to being elected.
For future elections, let’s all commit to making an informed decision at the ballot box. In fact, I would suggest discussing political matters with your family and friends and making this conversation a part of your dinner table.
You can also infuse the political and civic spirit in youth by discussing these topics with your children and understanding their viewpoints on the social issues occurring around us.
Youth will also realize that social studies are not confined solely to a textbook or classroom setting but are to be applied in real-world contexts.
It is vital that political and social issues are discussed with one’s family and friends so that these matters are not seen in an isolated manner or in a context where they are separated from our everyday life. Discussing them will allow us to discover the links between the issues facing our city, related to topics such as crime and poverty reduction, public transportation, electoral reform (e.g. analyzing the pros and cons of the ward system and current at-large system), and infrastructure development and how they affect us.
While social media has its many benefits, let’s also discuss these issues in-person.
We must all realize the significance of the coming election and the critical role that we play. After all, the future of our city depends on it. It is easy to forget amongst the campaigning and various other events going on during election time that ultimately it is us, the electorate, that must make the most important decision about who we wish to choose.
Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University. He writes regularly for The Leader.