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Christopher Radojewski | Fulcrum Staff

POLITICIANS WANT YOUR vote and that is all.
The one time they truly care that you pay attention is at election time. Every politician you can think of is in favour of better voter turnout and encourages the fundamental right, but as soon as the election is over, you may not hear from them all that often—until four years later.
If there is a problem with Canadian politics, it is not the increasing presence of voter apathy—it’s the long-term attention span of Canadian citizens. If Canadians are not constantly engaged, they won’t know what happens between elections. This is where we as voters can make mistakes, since we largely don’t know the true record of politicians. All we hear is opinion and rhetoric, but we need to be able to find the truth within the shop-talk—messier than finding a needle in a haystack.
The problem is that people don’t often take the time to inform themselves on the actions of the government. As boring as politics may sometimes seem, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground, because when an issue that does matter appears, it sometimes goes unchallenged.
Take for example the Idle No More movement. It rallied people across the country and it brought important issues into the light. But it was too late—the movement was reactionary and by the time people banded together to fight the parts of the omnibus bill they disagreed with, decisions had already been made. The bill passed with a majority in Parliament.
There is evidence that action does work, but it requires attention and fast action. When Bill C-30 threatened people’s online privacy, citizen action was swift and determined. People clamoured and banged, emailing, calling, and tweeting MPs, and it forced the government to give it a second thought. This clearly shows there is power outside of elections.
Being engaged is not just about attacking the government. It’s about thinking critically on many levels. What is the current government doing? What are they telling me? Am I being represented in the House of Commons? What is the media telling me and what is their angle? These questions have to be asked constantly of those that represent our interests and give us the news.
We have a choice to not be informed on current politics, but what are the consequences? To not engage is to let someone else determine your values and beliefs—which I guess is fine if you don’t have time to choose your own. Even better, you become the politician’s perfect voter…engaged, but not too engaged. Just enough to re-elect the same people time and time again. Imagine the difference we could make if we took action instead of reacting; we just might change the world.