Walking around Toronto’s neighbourhoods, reading the newspaper or checking the Facebook profile of your poli-sci friend makes it pretty hard to ignore the impending election, which is taking place October 19th ; and frankly, you shouldn’t. At every age, there is a new privilege we are able to take advantage of: at twelve we rush to sign up for the red cross’ babysitting course, thirteen makes you a teenager, fifteen is an age significant enough for Taylor Swift to write a song about, sixteen legally allows you to not only hold the keys to vehicle but actually drive it and eighteen is the age which makes a Canadian citizen eligible to vote.
It truly is a privilege to have the right to vote, and unfortunately many students find themselves too busy to vote, unsure of the process or just plain uninterested in the politics of our country. U of T educates a huge number of international students, many of whom do not qualify to vote in elections – however, I have learned from my politically inclined international friends that it can be exciting to self-educate on current Canadian politics and stress the importance of voting to those who can. Take my dear friend Steven, for example. He is originally from Australia and came to U of T to take a break from all the scary spiders and make friends with a moose or two, and along the way found a passion for Canadian politics. It was Steven who really inspired me to vote this election, by stating in a Facebook status that his friends with a Canadian citizenship would be voting for the leader of the country he resides, that my vote would impact his Canada and to vote, and most importantly vote wisely.
These words rang in my head as I walked into the Graduate House last Wednesday between classes to vote for the first time. I had decided to vote in the advance polling, after realizing that my vote would have the most punch in my “back-at-home” riding, Grey-Bruce-Owen Sound. I walked into a room where a bunch of U of T student poll clerks sat at stations ready to register, give first-voter pointers, and check IDs. For those of us who are eighteen, you will already know that there aren’t many exciting things that your ID can do for you… sigh no more; voting truly is a thrill (disclaimer: this is my inner political nerd talking). Regardless of the excitement level casting your ballot gives you, if you can – educate yourself on the party options and get yourself to a voting centre and enjoy your 18+ Canadian duty! For all the international students out there, get involved and remind your Canadian friends to take advantage of a right you have not been given. Over 42,000 students voted during the advance polling period, and with numbers like that, we are showing the Canadian government that we are young, present and ready to take action when it comes to deciding the leader of our country. Spread the word, take time to vote this October and help make Canadian history.
Are you planning to vote in the election? If the answer is yes, remember to bring two pieces of ID with your address on them or one ID with a piece of mail using your current address, a lease agreement, etc. to the voting centre. If you need information on where to vote on election day, here is an article from U of T News that has it all!
Tweet or Instagram using the hashtag #UofTiVoted and share your voting experience with us!