It’s official–Canadians are going to the polls on September 20, 2021. As a former political science student and as a current Christian, politics remains an area I follow closely and think of as extremely important. Following is a guide to help get you started in this important part of the democratic process.
On Faith and Politics
One of the most harmful narratives some will try to push is that faith should be kept out of politics. Truth is, that that is impossible. It is impossible because faith and politics are both fundamentally concerned with the same issues; both are about right relations with our neighbours, with the environment, etc.–the only additional element faith adds is concerning itself with right relations with the Divine.
My faith informs my politics, and denying that is foolhardy. I am committed to LGBTQ+ affirming, antiracist, intersectional feminist, wealth redistribution policies BECAUSE of my faith, not in spite of it.
Voting: Values-Based Approach
I won’t tell you who to vote for, but I will offer you some advice on how to choose. The biggest thing I think is important to recognize (again, informed by my faith) is that no political party or candidate is going to meet every criteria and issue you hold dear. As a Christian, I remain adamantly non-partisan for exactly that reason. My personal beliefs lead me to vote with the “Anything But Conservative” camp, but I am not and will never be in complete alignment with the Greens, Liberals, or NDP either. For me, God is Lord over the world, and my first allegiance is to the Spirit, not any human authority.
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, I recommend a values-based voting approach. It works like this:
- Identify 2-3 values and/or issues that you are most concerned with
- These can be issues that affect you personally, your local community, the nation, or even the globe
- Research the candidates in your area
- Pay attention to the values they hold
- If they are the incumbent (current MP running for re-election), check their voting record to see whether their actions match up with their words
- Research the political parties involved
- See whether your values are related in their platform
- Remember that Canada’s political parties have tight “whipping” rules–ie. the party leaders can very easily demand an MP to vote with the party rather than according to conscience and very few MPs can dissent if they wish to be re-elected and/or remain in the party.
- Remember that even if you vote for a candidate from a party that doesn’t have a broad base of support in your riding, some tax money gets allotted to that party based on the proportion of the vote–so no vote is wasted!
- If you find a candidate in your riding and/or a political party that aligns the most closely with your earlier identified values/causes, this is the one I would recommend voting for.
This values-based approach is the easiest method I’ve found for people to discern who to vote for; it works for both people of faith communities and secular citizens trying to discern who to vote for without knowing much about the political process.
Misinformation & Disinformation: How To Spot It
One of the sad realities of elections is that misinformation & disinformation will spread quickly and easily; this is nothing new, but we sadly remain easily affected by it. However, there are a couple of things to watch out for:
- If you read something that provokes an intense emotional reaction like anger, fear, despair, or disgust, take a deep breath and do some extra research and visiting fact-checking websites like Snopes; because posters know that emotional reactions will work around our logic systems, they tend to make their posts controversial and emotionally provocative. Taking a moment to double-check such content is an excellent defense
- In general, during election season, anything you read/watch/hear that refers to a political party, group or organization, candidate, or known supporter, is good to look further into. Make careful note of the source (ie. is it coming from a legitimate news outlet like CTV, CBC, Global?) and the original poster (ie. is this viral content that originated on a Page or account with a known bias or lack of legitimacy?).
List of Resources:
Elections Canada – Voter Registration: https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=vot&dir=reg&document=index&lang=e
I highly recommend visiting this website as soon as possible. It’s easy to check whether you are registered to vote at your current address and update your address if need be; this saves a lot of headaches on Election Day.
Elections Canada – Employment Opportunities: https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=emp&document=index&lang=e
Applying to be a poll worker, administrative staff, etc. during an election is an excellent way to support the civic process and get some quick cash in your pocket! I worked an advance poll location last federal election, and it was an excellent experience which also gave me some cash I desperately needed at that time in my life.
CBC Vote Compass: https://votecompass.cbc.ca/canada
This is an excellent way to do a quick check on your alignment with the political parties of Canada. Use it with a grain of salt, but keep it in mind.
An excellent fact-checking site that will be your friend during election season to guard against disinformation and misinformation.
Hope that helps you all to get started. Other than this, read, watch, and listen widely; diversify your sources of information and think critically about both what they are telling you, how they are you telling you, and why they are telling you. Remain curious and ask lots of questions. And most of all: CAST YOUR VOTE AND HAVE YOUR SAY.