Are you ready to vote?

Connecting the Dots - Talk it over with your kids!

From the time I was a young child I was quite aware of politics. I knew my mother and father differed, particularly in federal and provincial politics. I really don’t recall much fuss over who guided the municipal affairs of the day.

So, I knew there was a choice to be made.

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Are you prepared to vote? What about 18-year-old voters?  What prepares us to vote?

When you have been supporting yourself, paying your hydro, food, fuel bills, seeing a chunk of your “wealth” siphoned off for taxes, and benefitting from government programs, this helps put politics into perspective.

We hear impassioned advertising, including attack ads. Sorting out fact from fiction, and applying information to one’s perceived needs, that of our community and our country, that’s our job as voters.

Young voters have limited personal experience and I wondered, what besides the media prepares youth to vote?

So I did some thinking about what has prepared me to make sense of the rhetoric and the leaders’ platforms, not to mention the perception of personal character of both party leaders and riding candidates.

I also did a little research into what kids learn these days and I was pleasantly surprised by the courses I saw offered at Virden Collegiate Institute. Some of the electives include: the study of Canada’s history, background of the economic and social events in the context of “average” Canadians.

There are courses on business, entrepreneurship, marketing and the like.

The preamble to the VCI student handbook encourages parents and their kids to discuss the choices available before the students select their courses for the year of study.

So what about political ideologies? Some of the courses in high school will definitely help young voters think through the issues.

While student learning and news media can be a big influencer, I believe that family discussion is important. If, over the evening meal or in the car on the way somewhere, the discussions remain civil, open to new ideas, it can help parents and their kids think more clearly about what is important.

While Mother was not a feminist of her day, she knew her own mind and knew that it was important to be true to herself. She was educated and an educator who had seen much of Manitoba in her ten plus years in her profession.

My father raised purebred cattle, but thought it would have been interesting to have become a scientist, or so he told me when I was 10.

One parent preferred conservative John Diefenbaker, the other, the liberal Lester B. Pierson.

I respected both of their perspectives, as I did my neighbour, Maud Lelond, who ran for the NDP for some years.

I had a choice to make.


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