Halalan: Bumoto sa September 20!

OP-ED : 

“Tara na, Kabayan , mag-boto na tayo”!


 Tony A. San Juan, OCT-Retired
The federal election is just around the corner.  Canada’s new Governor-General has ordered the writ to be issued, the Parliament is dissolved, and the whole country, amid the pandemic, is at it. Candidates here and there are campaigning and “selling” their ideas, their promises, and their platforms for us to decide whom best to elect, to renew the mandate of the 43rd government, or to have a “fresh” government.

Yes, folks! It is that time again in our living daylights and waking hours that Canadians are being asked to decide and go to the election booths to cast their sacred ballots, how sacred the exercise is, I didn’t really know much. Election issues generally are traditional in nature,  like balanced budget, child care, climate change, economy, employment, health care, housing, immigration, indigenous relations, racial diversity, seniors welfare, taxation, and many more.

For citizens and Filipinos across Canada, the election is a ritual in parliamentary democracy to choose a candidate whom they want to represent their interest  in whatever station in life they are. Whether one is a student, senior, professional, executive, farmer, worker, unemployed, retired, young mother, single parent, or whether one belongs to the WASPS, LGBTQ, BIPOC, Eurocentrists, Racialized Minorities or the Marginalized communities, the process of election is a right of the free in a free society.
In a healthy democracy, when one is living, working, enjoying, or struggling as a citizen, the vote is very important. It is the choice to be made at the ballot box for the elected government to function, lead, serve, and provide the programs and services for the people regardless of background, race, orientation, or color. But in the real world of politics, power and privilege, these democratic ideals, concepts, and constructs are not usually utopian but oftentimes practiced engagements in hallowed terms and practicalities because problems and disagreements abound between competing ideologies, political persuasions, and realities in governance surface differently.
The federal election is very, very important in a representative democracy, especially for the ethnic and racialized minorities including Filipinos in this adopted country. Indeed it is something that we hope to express our long-felt desire to be  respected and represented “on the table”, so to speak,  to participate and “walk in the corridors of power”. Is it then too bad to dream and hope for? The answer is No! But we have to come out and vote. And vote accordingly. As a warning, “you can not complain if you do not vote”.
Canadian elections actually, are 338 separate elections, one in each electoral riding or constituency. But politically, Canadian elections are ultimately about leadership. Our leaders stand atop their parties, be they  Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats, Bloc, or Greens. Election practice dictates that voters take positions on issues according to the stances taken by the leaders they prefer. Moreover, the issues they assign weight to are those that leaders have suggested and advanced are important. Qualified and discernible voters follow their favored leaders. The evaluation of political party leaders is the paramount factor in the process of determining who can lead and deliver the goods, that is, the all-important platform and promise. In return, this assessment helps in translating and deciding whom to support and vote for the Member of Parliament candidate in your riding. 
Candidates door knock, canvass and glad-hand, and at times, grandstand. Yesiree.They preen and promise and ask for your vote. Some candidates are more on the promise, others are less on delivery when elected. Kaya ang tanong ay: Sino sa pananao at paniniwala mo na makaka-pagbigay ng  bago o patuloy at subok na magaling ng pamamaraan atpalantuntunan para sa kaginhawan sa iyong buhay at pamilya lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya”. Whatever and whichever, it is our moment as voters.  In the end, that’s what counts most . We decide.
Experientially, since 1986, this will be my 10th federal election to vote. Regardless of political stripes and affiliations, Filipinos especially those steeped in Philippine politics consider election as a source for “bread and butter” and others exercise the right of suffrage to foster change or continuity in government.  In our “bayang sinilangan”, sad to state, politics is more on “personality and patronage”. In Canada, I would say, it’s “philosophy and patriotism”.  Realistically, we can not do away with politics. With all its challenges and criticism, it’s the “way of life” in a democratic society. Ergo, election matters. When we vote, we care! Get out and vote! “Tara na, Kabayan , mag-boto na tayo”!!!

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