The Confederation of Canadian Unions initiated a political education drive aimed at increasing voter turnout for the October 6, 2011 Ontario election.
The CCU received responses from a questionnaire it sent to the major parties at the beginning of the Ontario election campaign. Named “Have A Say, Vote Your Way,” the questionnaire relates to issues that matter specifically to wage earners and working class people.
“For far too long, elections and political parties have ignored the concerns of workers, and it has caused millions of them to stay at home on voting day,” says CCU President Joanie Cameron Pritchett. “That’s why we asked the parties directly about their views on unions, wages, collective bargaining and workers’ rights.”
The fifteen questions in the document also discuss the environment, health care, education, jobs and the economy, and the responses received from the Liberals, NDP and Greens are posted on the organization’s website.
The CCU initiated a similar campaign for the federal election in May 2011. “The education drive we organized for the federal campaign in the spring was a huge success,” says Pritchett. “We think this initiative at the provincial level will further raise awareness about important issues.”
Voter turnout has been rapidly declining, and statistics show that it is especially low-income and working class families that aren’t exercising their voting rights. “There were many organizations throughout the province engaged in the election,” says Robin Smith, a CCU delegate. “Our program, however, was designed specifically to speak to the concerns of workers and progressive-minded people in Ontario today.”
The CCU believes their “Have A Say, Vote Your Way” campaign is the best way to engage working people in Ontario. “There were some surprising answers on a few of the issues,” says Smith. “But there’s nothing more genuine than asking politicians direct questions and getting straight answers, without the fluff and spin. The voters of Ontario deserve nothing less.”
Have A Say, Vote Your Way – Questionnaire
The CCU sent Ontario’s four major parties a document consisting of fifteen questions on economics, labour, health care, education and the environment. Click on the party logo to download the responses.
A Letter from CCU President Joanie Cameron Pritchett
The 2011 Ontario Provincial Election will be exceptionally important for working people in the province.
I often hear friends and colleagues say that their vote doesn’t matter. As Ontarians who care deeply about freedom and democracy, we need to dispel this notion and demonstrate, especially to young people, that every vote counts.
The Confederation of Canadian Unions is spearheading a voter education drive called “Have Your Say, Vote Your Way.” We have sent questionnaires to the four major parties and have received responses which are posted on our website at www.ccu-csc.ca. The questions deal with economic issues, health care, education, the environment and workers’ rights, among others.
The right to vote is just that – a right. This hasn’t always been the case. In Canada’s early days, voting was a privilege that only a select group of wealthy men could participate in. It has only been about 90 years since men and women of any class have had the right to vote, and even this says nothing of the huge barriers faced by Aboriginal peoples in Canada, who for decades were preventing from voting.
There are a number of websites to help voters understand the issues and how policies will affect their lives. It is important to review the parties’ websites, those of your local candidates and interest groups, pamphlets you receive in the mail, and articles in the local media. You will learn a great deal and empower yourself with confidence to make the right voting choices on October 6th.
I also often hear that people are confused and turned off by the misinformation and constant stream of negative media images from the five major political parties. Although there is a great deal of conflicting information, it is vital to fully understand the positions of the parties and their leaders on important issues.
There are also opportunities to attend a local debate or speak to your candidates when they come to your door. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions that pertain directly to you or a problem you’re facing.
I encourage people to do some research and involve your children in understanding our political system, one that they will one day inherit. I hope to see a record voter turnout on October 6th. I encourage all citizens who are eligible to have your say, vote your way!
Joanie Cameron Pritchett
President, Confederation of Canadian Unions