By Dr. CHRISTOPHER J. MORGAN
Ontarians have chosen the Ontario Liberal Party to lead this province into the next few years. Congratulations to Premier Dalton McGuinty, his candidates, campaign mangers, staff and volunteers.
Congratulations also to Margarett Best, who was re-elected in Scarborough-Guildwood, and first-time African Canadian Liberal MPP, Michael Coteau, who won handily in Don Valley East. Both Best and Coteau had very strong showings in their respective ridings receiving 49 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.
Congratulations must also be given to all the candidates from our community who made a significant sacrifice of time, energy and resources to run in the provincial election for their party of choice. They may not have won their riding but, often, being in the race, standing out for what you believe in, and representing yourself and the community well is in itself a victory.
Last week, of the 8.5 million eligible voters in Ontario, 4.1 million or fewer than 48 per cent went to the polling station. Thirty-seven per cent of those who voted, voted Liberal awarding McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party a third consecutive term in office. One seat shy of a majority, McGuinty will lead a “major minority” government as it strives to sustain improvements made in areas such as health care, education and employment and fulfill its campaign promises.
Last week’s voter turnout is reportedly the lowest in Ontario election history. There may be a number of reasons for this. In the last 12 months, Ontarians have had a federal and a provincial election. We in Toronto have also had a municipal election. Is it voter fatigue or voter apathy? Some will argue that abstaining from voting is a political action.
What motivates you to vote or not vote?
On the morning of October 7, while at my local barbershop, the topic of the provincial election outcome came up. I asked one of the barbers if he voted. He emphatically stated he didn’t. When asked why, he said that “they (politicians) never keep their promises”.
Knowing he was from Jamaica, I asked if he voted when he was there. He said the only time he voted in his life was in 1982 – in Jamaica. I asked why he did not vote regularly in Jamaican elections, and he repeated his earlier response: “they (politicians) never keep their promises.”
We can all relate to being disappointed by broken promises regardless of who made them. For this gentleman, it was enough to discourage him from voting.
Finally, I asked him what would motivate him to vote in a Canadian election. He said if there was someone from our community that he felt he could trust, he would vote for them. I informed him that there were a number of candidates from our community who ran in this provincial election and two won their ridings.
Our conversation soon turned to how our community could change the political landscape by joining and supporting political parties and candidates and running for office. In so doing we would be more effective in having the issues relevant to our community addressed. There are a number of examples where other communities have been successful in fielding and electing candidates and having the ear of the governing party.
Thirty minutes later, I had a really nice haircut and an enjoyable and insightful conversation on political engagement in the Black community – one man’s story.
Whether it was voter fatigue, voter apathy or any other cause that lead to a low voter turnout in this year’s provincial election, in the context of the significant health, social, political, and economic challenges facing our community, we will have to find a way to get in the game in order to change it.
Dr. Christopher J. Morgan is the director of Morgan Chiropractic & Wellness, an interdisciplinary health centre in Toronto, and the President of the Black Health Alliance, a network of community organizations, health professionals and community members working in partnership to advance the health and well-being of the Black community. He can be reached at 416-447-7600 or email@example.com