A ballot with my breakfast special

My voter information card arrived in the mail recently and is attached by magnet to the fridge. It’s a reminder to make sure I get out to vote today.

I get to cast my vote at the Mill Pond Restaurant in Carnarvon. I usually go to Zion United Church but because it’s up for sale, the owners couldn’t guarantee they would have a polling station on election day. I think it’s pretty cool I get to vote at my hunger hang-out.

Location aside, voting is never an easy prospect for me. First of all, I am a journalist. Since journalists are supposed to be non-partisan in their reporting, I always have an internal debate as to whether or not I should vote at all. By choosing a party, or candidate, am I showing a bias? Will it affect my coverage? Then, I feel guilty. People have died fighting for the privilege of voting around the world and so I feel I should exercise my democratic right.

Growing up in Sudbury, the daughter of a steelworker, my early voting patterns were modelled on that of my parents, so without a great deal of thought I habitually marked down the NDP on my ballot.

Since then, I have opted for other parties over the years – at both the federal and provincial level – generally basing my decision on what the party stands for, asking if their values match my own. It’s the same with candidates. Do they reflect the values I hold near and dear to my heart?

This weekend, I took one of those online quizzes to see how things were looking this time around. I went with I Side With … since it had an extensive 2019 political quiz tackling everything from housing, to foreign policy, healthcare, crime, the economy, immigration, the environment, education, social issues, science, domestic policy, transportation, electoral and local issues. I won’t share my results, for obvious reasons, but I wasn’t overly surprised at the outcome.

The federal election also naturally came up at a social function or two over the weekend. We talked about the nuance between local candidates and national parties. For example, the people we were visiting with were impressed by Green Party leader Elizabeth May but were fairly confident her local candidate, Elizabeth Fraser, would not be elected.

Others said they liked incumbent Conservative Jamie Schmale, but they were not convinced by the Conservative platform this time around.

The age-old question of voting for candidate or party was bandied about. Others said none of it mattered since they thought Schmale would get in anyway, regardless of who else is running.

That was countered with a vote for Fraser, which would show support for the Greens and their environmental stance.

At the end of the day, voting is a very personal thing. Your choice does reflect who you are and what you believe in and sometimes it does involve factoring in how to make that vote strategic.

All that really matters is that you do vote. I’ll be heading to the Mill Pond Restaurant Monday and instead of ordering my usual breakfast special, I’ll be exercising my democratic right to choose who I want to see lead Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock and Canada through the next four years. I encourage you to do so, too.

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