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On October 1, get out and vote for a provincial party that supports your values

From health care to education, don’t miss your chance to be heard in the Quebec general election
September 25, 2018
By Meagan Boissé

All votes are important. An image from the All votes are important ad campaign by Élections Québec.

The weather may be chilly and the lines could be long. Perhaps you’ll feel more inclined to binge watch Netflix. But on October 1, Quebec’s political future will be decided, and it will be all the better with your participation.

“Too many people wrongly assume their vote doesn’t count, but it’s not true,” says Harold Chorney, a professor in the Department of Political Science.

“A lot of election ridings are won by fewer than 500 votes.”

He emphasizes that Quebec may be experiencing a political pivot toward the election of a more conservative party, the Coalition Avenir Québec, who have been leading in the polls. This could represent a considerable change in terms of the province’s social and economic policies.

“No matter your political leaning, it would be a mistake to think there’s nothing at stake in this election,” adds Chorney.

Your voice matters

Quebec voter turnout has been in steady decline since the 1995 independence referendum, with only 71 per cent of the electorate turning up for the last provincial election. The numbers are even worse among young voters, with only 55 per cent casting their ballots in 2014.

“When you look at the youth core and discover it's only voting at about a 50 per cent level, there's a heck of a lot of potential there,” says Chorney.

“If the non-voting section of the electorate could be motivated, it would have a huge impact on the outcome of the election.”

Carolyn Loutfi (BFA, 14) is the director of Apathy is Boring, an organization that encourages young people to take charge of the conditions that they live in. She cites many reasons to account for the lost youth vote, including lack of interest, logistical barriers and government distrust.

“There needs to be a stronger focus on civic education in schools," says Loutfi. "We need to hold governments accountable in terms of keeping their promises. We need to ensure they maintain a relationship with youth between elections.”

Loutfi adds that young people should realize these elections matter because the provincial government is responsible for education, health care and much more.

“For a lot of young people, these are top priorities,” she says. “October 1 is your time to be heard on these issues. By not voting you're letting someone else, who may have different values than you, decide your place.”

A civic obligation

Chorney agrees that political apathy has become a problem among Quebec voters. He notes that many people are tired of politicians, due in part to the rise of populist rhetoric. Reforming the electoral system — from a first-past-the-post system to something that includes more proportional representation — is one way to engage people politically, he says.

However, even if you don’t love the current system, he believes it’s no excuse to avoid participating in the election process.

“Democracy is a very precious institution, and too often people only appreciate it when it's gone or being damaged,” Chorney says, citing how Quebec had an authoritarian government under former premier Maurice Duplessis.

“We don’t want to go back to those dark days, and it seems that everywhere we’re seeing a rise in the anti-democratic right. This is not a good thing.”

Get informed

Both Chorney and Loutfi suggest people inform themselves of their options prior to casting a vote on October 1. From reading up on different party platforms and seeking out commentary from various sources, to engaging friends and family in political discussions, there are plenty of ways to find out where you stand.

“Look around the world or to different provinces in this country. Notice the different ways a government can influence the everyday lives of its citizens. Depending on your individual priorities, vote for someone who will have the impact you want for your community,” Loutfi urges.

“We have the collective power to decide who governs our province. If you're reading this, I'm asking you to have your voice heard and exercise that power.”

If your October 1 is booked up, you can register to vote at an
advance polling station!

Find out more about Quebec’s provincial parties and their platforms.


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