Monday was election day here in Canada. If you’re not from here, you might be thinking «canadian politics. what could be more boring?» and you would be right, in a way. Apart from a little separatist movement in Quebec that has already lost two referendums in the las 25 years, not much excitement in canadian politics.
And it’s true, voting in Canada is not a very exciting thing to do. In fact, just 65% of the population exercised their democratic right. It’s more than in the US (55% last time), and more than the last time (60.9% in 2004), but one person out of three decided not to vote, for whatever reason. Not exciting enough, perhaps.
The actual voting station I was assigned to was in a church basement right next to the day care, so I went in first thing in the morning, right at the opening. It was just the usual boring volunteers sending you off to your table, elderly people sipping bad coffee in styrofoam cups, everybody speaking softly and smiling those polite little smiles you smile to people you don’t know on important occasions like, um, elections. And that was it, five minutes, in and out, and on with the rest of the day. Very not exciting.
So I was going back outside and I couldn’t help thinking of how easy and boring a non-event this was. And then it crossed my mind : how many people on this planet were this lucky? This banal exercise in (seemingly futile) democracy, how many people would – and have – given their very lives to defend, establish, or even approach. Voting in Canada is as dull as buying a bus ticket. And just as dangerous.
I truly feel that I live in a blessed country. I don’t have to think about my safety. I don’t fear for my life. I can say whatever comes off the top of my head, even if the government doesn’t agree. I’m not afraid of my government or the police. I can walk in my city at any hour of the day and the night, and not be afraid of being robbed, murdered, kidnapped for my kidney, or blown away. Even women can do this! And most of the other people that live on this planet, the vast majority (yeah, BILLIONS) don’t even have the shadow of what I have. I was born in Chile, where Pinochet was dictator for 17 years. My family has seen first hand what the government can do when it turns against its people. So fucking right I’m gonna vote. In a very calm and not exciting way.
Outside, it was snowing.