Democracy? Or Hypocrisy?

Intense interest in the U.S. election north of the border often doesn't translate to interest in our own elections.

I’ve got a bone to pick with the 20-somethings I know. Yeah, I’m one of them, and while you’re pointing that out you can get off my lawn.

I’m sick and tired of seeing and hearing non-voting Canadians urge Americans to vote this way or that in their federal election. Every time I see it, which in the days leading up to this week’s election has been more often than I’d like, I shake my head and get a little more annoyed.

Has it occurred to any of these people, that if they spent just a fraction of the time they spend promoting an American candidate or criticizing that person’s opponent, that they could be getting informed on the goings on in their very own country?

Yes, believe it or not, Canada has a head of state. His name is Stephen Harper, he represents the Conservative Party of Canada. The NDP rocketed into the opposition party seat last election for the first time ever, with Thomas Mulcair now at the helm. We also have the Liberal Party, represented by Bob Rae at the moment but interesting things are boiling over there thanks to the re-introduction of that very famous “T” word, Trudeau. And then there is a very interesting lady named Elizabeth May who historically won the first seat for the Green Party last election.

Do you know where any of these people stand on the issues that are important to you? Or do you care more about Mitt Romney’s thoughts on abortion, or Obama’s birth certificate?

I don’t care where you stand on Canadian politics, I just want you to stand somewhere.

Our country’s youth voter turnout is embarrassingly low. Our last federal election had only 38.8 per cent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 cast their ballot.

And while we all snicker about the politics going on south of the border like we’re better, America’s youth are besting us year after year.

In America, 51 per cent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 voted for either Barack Obama or John McCain in 2008. That is out of 46 million eligible youth voters in the U.S.

I’m in a unique position as a 24-year-old Canadian. I happen to be the girlfriend of a very lovely American, and through that relationship I have become friends with many other wonderful Americans all over the country.

You want to know what my American friends did today? They voted. One even got in line at 6:30 a.m. to exercise his democratic right. I don’t know who he voted for, nor do I care particularly because it is his country, not mine. The fact is he took the opportunity and did it.

The truth is, the outcome of the American election does have an impact on Canada, and I do have an opinion on who I would prefer to win but I do not have a vote in the American election, therefore who I think should win has no bearing on the outcome. You know what has an even bigger impact on Canada and my life? The person who is our own prime minister.

We have elections just like the Americans. And you know what? We even have a provincial one coming right up in May. That election will actually effect your daily life more than Obama or Romney ever will in your entire life time.

If eligible voters in Canada who are so busy squawking about the American election put just a few minutes into criticizing our own leaders, they just might find out there’s a few things worth a Facebook post or a conversation or two.

They might even find it — gasp! — interesting!

I love my country — in fact I love it so much that I was one of those 38.8 per cent who took the 10 minutes to vote in 2011. Man, am I ever tired of Canadian youth rambling on about American politics when they can’t even take a second to figure out if they agree with what’s happening on our side of the border.

I would fall over backwards in shock if I ever saw an actual line up at a Canadian polling station.

Annalee Grant is a reporter with the Cranbrook Daily Townsman

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