Canada’s direction now in the hands of voters

"If the advance polls proved anything, it’s that many Canadians are engaged in this election and want to participate."

The 11-week election marathon is almost at the finish line.

And while most marathons leave the participants exhausted, this one has hopefully shown Canadians still have plenty of steam left when it comes to the direction of our country.

If the advance polls proved anything, it’s that many Canadians are engaged in this election and want to participate.

With a tip of the hat to the CBC’s Rex Murphy, he eloquently explained that the prolonged campaign was actually a good thing for democracy.

Instead of the usual sound bites and over-blown gaffes, this campaign allowed us to see the candidates work their way through a series of important issues – from the Senate scandal, to the refugee crisis, to immigration issues and federal budgets.

Too often in the crush of national media coverage, real issues get snowed under by inane stories about the paint job on an airplane or a candidate’s flub when playing catch or an angry old man calling everyone names.

While this campaign has had those types of moments, from peeing in a coffee cup to an array of bizarre social media comments dug up from the past, it has also provided voters a chance to closely scrutinize each party’s stance on issues.

Certainly there is a choice out there for the electorate.

As we have all seen in our mailboxes, the Conservative pitch is to continue on the current path, focus on national security and keeping taxes low.

How they achieve that is at the heart of the debate against the ruling party.

While the other three parties – Liberal, New Democrat and Green – offer different takes on how to achieve shared goals, they offer a stark contrast to the current government.

And therein lies the decision.

Stay the course or time for a change?

Much has been said about “strategic voting,” or the “ABC” (Anything But Conservative) campaign, but it still comes down to a personal choice.

That’s the great thing about democracy.

Despite all the attack ads, the double-speak, the promises of billions of dollars and the dream of a strong middle class, it comes down to you and I to make the decision.

When you’re set to mark that ballot, hopefully people block out those annoying ads, those mountains of promises and each party’s spin on all the budget numbers, and vote from the heart and conscience.

That’s where the right decisions are often made and I have faith in the Canadian population that however they vote on Election Day, it will be because they perceive that’s what’s right for our country.

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2008 it touched off celebrations around the world as the George Bush was brought to an end.

I sincerely doubt we will see that type of celebration should Stephen Harper be defeated but there will certainly be a wave of joy flowing over many parts of Canada.

The comment boards to various stories are filled with people hoping to see the end of the Harper regime. While I agree that comment boards aren’t really indicative of the general mood of the population, it certainly is showing a trend.

If I needed any more convincing, it came to me Wednesday morning reading a story on the CBC website. One reader, with a Montreal Canadiens avatar, expressed his desire to see Harper lose the election. A self-professed Boston Bruins fan supported that comment.

If a Bruins fan and a Habs fan can agree on something as polarizing as an election, that’s the best barometer I need to realize there is definitely a desire for change.

On Monday every citizen eligible to vote can play a role in the direction our country will take.

And if you don’t play your role, then you’re simply not trying to help.

Guy Bertrand is the managing editor of the Trail Times

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