#IdleNoMore at the ballot box

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.