A week from today residents across Hastings-Lennox and Addington will join millions of other Canadians in exercising their democratic right to vote for their Member of Provincial Parliament.
Despite not being the most populated riding voters in H-LA will still have plenty of choices before them with no fewer than six names appearing on the ballot. Some candidates as different as night and day, others just differentiated by a few shades of blue.
There are those who would argue that six is too much for a riding of this size and all it will accomplish is to split the vote. Someone who is considering a vote for the New Blue Party wasn’t likely ever going to vote Liberal, so it’s probably one voter fewer for the Conservatives. On the other hand, someone who supports the Green needs only to look at the available data to see the road to gaining a seat in this riding is a long one so it might be wiser to cast their vote for someone who closest aligns to their beliefs while maintaining a shot at heading to Queen’s Park.
And while the above scenarios may play out over the next few days as votes are cast in advance polls and on election day, we still say choice is always a good thing. Voters are more likely to get involved if they can get behind a candidate that speaks to them and ultimately, for them. That could mean more voters actually turn out and rather than steal votes from similar parties, we may actually see more first time voters or at least some returning after sitting the last few out figuring their voice wasn’t being heard. In 2018 just under 60 per cent of eligible H-LA voters showed up to vote. Granted the end result wasn’t particularly close as Conservative MP Daryl Kramp did take the riding with 50 per cent of the vote, 18 per cent ahead of Nate Smelle of the NDP-but at the same time that margin of victory was still smaller than the number of people who didn’t vote. Early polls forecast show this riding is projected to post similar numbers this time around, but polls have been wrong before. Those numbers shouldn’t scare people away from doing their part to get out and vote-on both sides on the political spectrum. If enough Conservatives decided this riding were safe and there was no need to bother voting, they may regret it come June 3.
If nothing else, casting a vote for a party that may otherwise be considered a ‘long shot’ does send a message. It might just be enough to show other parties that if they hope to be a factor next time around they may want to adopt some of the policies from the parties that finished just ahead of below them. It may also encourage some of the newer parties to try again in four years knowing they do have a base in the region. More choice is never a bad thing when it comes to democracy and new voices should always be welcome-though that doesn’t mean we have to always agree with them, either.