Engaging with government officials, businesses and community leaders is part of our Christian witness.
If you are a statistics or history buff, Elections Canada publishes an interesting table of voter turnout statistics that starts with 1867 (with a 73.1% turnout); right up to 2019 when the turnout was 67%, with more than 18 million votes cast (www.elections.ca
Of course, not everyone had the right to vote back in 1867, and the history of the progression of voting and elections in Canada is captured in the book, A History of the Vote in Canada
, also available at the elections.ca site.
Today, as cited on Elections.ca, (which, as you can see, is a deep well of election information),“To register and vote in a federal election, you must be a Canadian citizen aged 18 or older on election day and provide acceptable proof of identity and address.”
The ‘why’ of voting can feel less clear-cut for some of us, some of the time. If we feel our vote “won’t matter,” or we’re so discouraged by the sometimes negative tone of election campaigns and Parliament itself that we turn away out of frustration or disinterest. Or for some Christians who interpret Paul’s idea of a citizenship in heaven as meaning that we don’t need to play a role in our citizenship here, voting might not always feel like a priority.
For the EFC, encouraging Christians to vote feels right.
We encourage Christians to be fully present in their communities and in the issues that concern them, their neighbours and those who are vulnerable among us. Engaging with government officials, businesses and community leaders is part of our Christian witness. Voting is an important part of how we are present in our communities and our country.
When we vote, we are helping to select the leaders who then go on to help shape the laws and public policies that have a direct impact on how we live out our lives in Canada, and how our neighbours are cared for and protected. Elections determine who will represent us in Parliament. It is elected MPs who will propose and support laws to protect religious freedom and vulnerable Canadians – or not.
The EFC’s Election Engagement Kit can help voters to engage well in the electoral process. Completely non-partisan, the kit (at www.TheEFC.ca/Election
) offers an array of topics voters might want to bring up with candidates.
We’ve crafted sample questions you might ask candidates – like how they intend to make sure reconciliation with First Nations Canadians is a top priority, and what their thoughts are on expanding medically-assisted dying in Canada.
The kit also explains how churches can be engaged in an election campaign without breaking any CRA rules, such as hosting an all-candidates meeting in a church building (or using an online platform such as Zoom). Hosting such meetings isn’t just for experts. The EFC’s Election Engagement Kit provides a step-by-step game plan to show how such meetings can be done.
We want to help. We believe it is important for Canadian Christians to vote, as an act of good citizenship and as a gesture of love for our neighbours and our communities, and this year we have another opportunity to do just that.
You can find out all the different ways you can cast your ballot and who the candidates in your riding are by visiting elections.ca