In Our Words: Last minute advice before election day

Since this is our last issue before the federal election takes place Monday, this will be my last chance to speak with you directly through this column before the results are announced. I have some suggestions, tips and observations about voting and the election that I’d like to share.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. All I want you to do is to do it.

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First of all, if you don’t know who’s running for your region or how this works, you’ve come to the right location. Earlier this month, we sent questionnaires to all 10 candidates running in both northern Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan ridings – five in each. All but one responded with answers. You’ll want to read it before going to the polls.

This tip is going to sound like a no-brainer, but just in case you forgot: you have to be registered to vote. You can register by going to your assigned polling location Oct. 21. If you’re in Flin Flon, that’s either going to be at the Northminster Memorial United Church, St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church or the R.H. Channing Auditorium. Creightonites will vote at the Community Centre and folks from Denare Beach will be voting at the Denareplex. Bring photo ID with you – you will need it.

First time voters, this is for you. Make sure you don’t accidentally screw up your ballot. At your polling place, the agent there will give you in-depth instructions on what you have to do and what you should write on your ballot paper. Listen closely. The last thing you want to do is go through the time and expense of voting, only to realize afterward that you bungled something and your vote wasn’t heard.

I went in and voted two weeks ago at the Flin Flon Elections Canada office. The staff there were helpful and knowledgeable. I’m still a fairly young man and this was only the second time I voted in a federal election – the procedure doesn’t really change but it’s nice to hear exactly what to do from the staff.

Don’t panic. You’re doing your duty as a citizen by voting. I know when I voted for the first time, I had a small-scale freakout behind that cardboard privacy screen.

It’s not like you’re sneaking away a beer from your dad. You’re not doing anything wrong. Just remember what you think is most important, who you feel would be the best Prime Minister or Member of Parliament and cast your ballot accordingly. Also, make sure you are voting for who you think is best - not someone else. The only person who knows who you voted for is you.

No matter how things end up Oct. 21, someone’s going to be upset. Just know that, regardless of who wins or who loses, the world will not end tomorrow. Oct. 22 is going to feel pretty much the same way last week or last month did, regardless of whether or not your preferred person won the day.

Typically, someone’s political beliefs are not a personal attack against you. When they do veer into that territory, you’ve got every right to take things personally and respond in kind. That said, talking about equalization payments or something similar isn’t usually something that you should take personally.

Feeling passionate about a subject isn’t a bad thing and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be personally invested in our country and government – if we all felt that way, this whole thing falls apart.

Election day is the one day of the year where every single adult is on a level playing field. Keep that in mind. The richest person in Canada, David Thomson of Thomson Reuters fame, has a net worth of more than $30 billion. I have several times less than that. I’m not broke, but I’m not… that.

That said, on Oct. 21, we both can only vote once.

One more thing: I know plenty of people who don’t vote because they don’t care, I know others who deliberately stay home from the polls, people who deliberately don’t cast ballots as an act of protest. If you don’t like any of the options on the board, you don’t have to vote.

Just know that, by not voting, you’ve effectively waived your right to bitch and whine. You had your say – now live with the consequences.

Growing up in Flin Flon, I know how much we love our bitching and whining. I’m no exception. We might as well make it our regional sport, along with hockey or fishing. It’s our thing. Bordeaux, Champagne, Tuscany and the Napa Valley have their wine, New York City, Naples and others have their pizza and the north has its fishing and bitching. We do it better here. What kind of person up here doesn’t want to complain? I sure do.

Get out there and make your voice heard.

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