#IdleNoMore at the ballot box

by Aaron Wherry

Eric Grenier runs the numbers on aboriginal turnout.

According to a study by Elections Canada published in August 2012, turnout on first nations reserves was just under 45 per cent in the 2011 federal election, compared to 61 per cent among the general population. The limitations of the study related to voter registration, but also the unavoidable inclusion of non-reserve votes into the calculations, mean that turnout on first nations reserves was likely even lower than 45 per cent. (Read the infographic)

That should be of great concern to aboriginal leaders, as a higher turnout in the last election could have prevented some of the recent changes the Conservative majority government has made to legislation relating to their way of life.

It’s obviously simplistic to suggest that the answer to all concerns is to “go vote,” but it’s also a possible solution that can’t be entirely discounted until it’s tried: Do we really know what would happen if aboriginals voted at a higher rate? Do we know what would happen if young people voted at a higher rate? Shouldn’t such groups endeavour to find out, if even just once to see if it would make a difference?

One of the long-term goals of #IdleNoMore (and #TellVicEverything and every other protest movement, large or small, that has risen up over the last few years) should be to make sure that every single person who gets involved, everyone who so much as tweets as a message of support, ends up voting in 2015. It’d be all the better if they donated their money or time to a political party of their choice, but a marked increase in the number of people voting would amount to something that politicians and parties would have reason to take into account.




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#IdleNoMore at the ballot box

  1. The power of the ballot box only works if you use it

    I know of few MPs who’ve ever been on a reserve.

    • Who might those MP’s be?

  2. Much easier for most people (including Native people) to tweet and twit compared to actually going off to the ballot boxes when being called for.

    Most people have a distorted notion of what democracy actually entails. Democracies can’t be perfect, but they do offer us a choice. And when so many people aren’t committed to making an actual choice they also shouldn’t complain about the workings of our democratic state.

    But we should all know by now that the act of inconsistency is the force by which a protest of any order can be run a-ground. If only the inconsistencies were duly pointed out.

    Thank you Aaron for pointing out this inconsistency.

  3. Voting is the key to democratic change. Not Twitter “protests”, not getting a million people to Like your protest page on Facebook, or getting a thousand mentions on the evening news.

  4. The tradition of electoral politics among indigenous peoples in Canada
    is relatively new and counter to their usual practice. Traditionally their
    community decisions have been reached by consensus with the guidance
    of tribal elders .. a kind of direct democracy .. a workable method in small
    tribal groups. Chiefs were only first among equals.
    Indians Affairs forced the current Chief and Council format on them by
    directing funding through that route and denying recognition of the traditional
    process. A lot of the tribes struggled with that for years … maybe some still do.
    At least part of the dysfunction of AFN is due to that tradition.
    Maybe someday they will achieve the soaring heights of white electoral
    participation and we can all be proud.

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