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Opinion: Parents who don't vote do a disservice to their children

Driving home from school pickup on Friday afternoon, my oldest daughter asked me who I was going to vote for in the federal election and I hesitated to respond.

Driving home from school pickup on Friday afternoon, my oldest daughter asked me who I was going to vote for in the federal election and I hesitated to respond.

I know the time to vote is quickly approaching and which issues mattered to me the most, but I hadn’t taken the time to really sit down and research which party was best aligned with my hopes for the future.

It’s easy to make excuses for not voting - especially as a parent.

As a working mother of three young children, I thought my absence from the polls was justified because I just didn’t have the time. As a non-partisan woman who wasn’t politically savvy, I was concerned that I would cast an uninformed vote, swaying the results with an eenie meenie minie moeapproach to making my electoral selections.

I voted for the first time in the 2015 federal election, and I admit my decision to do so was heavily influenced by the commentary that was swirling on social media, and by conversations amongst friends and family.

But before I hit the polls, I did my homework.

I didn’t want to choose a candidate because my parents were doing so, and I didn’t want to vote for the sole purpose of voting against someone else. The biased TV ads didn’t influence which box I ticked, and I certainly didn’t pick at random on the day of voting.

Instead, I read up on the issues, and tried my best to gain a basic understanding of each party’s perspective. I took online teststo see where my opinions fit into the political landscape, and I visited the webpages of each candidate in my riding to learn more about who they were and what they represented.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to politics if you’re not a political savant, but the issues at hand matter and will have a huge impact on both the present, and the future that we’re building for our children.

We’re in the middle of a child care crisis in BC. The cost of daycare has risen faster than inflation in 61 per cent of Canadian cities in the past few years, and Vancouver tops the list for most expensive toddler programs in the country. Our public school system is underfunded, and post-secondary education is becoming an unaffordable aspiration for the children of the future. Our baffling housing market is in dire need of an overhaul before our province loses all of its best people to the more affordable areas that lie outside of our metropolitan centres. We need to take action on climate change now, and in fact, according to a poll from AbacusResearch, 82 percent of Canadians agree that climate change is a serious problem.

These are the matters that will drive me to the polls this year.

We need to express which issues matter most to us as parents, and where we think the budgets should be spent in the coming years.

Thanks to our American neighbours, we’ve seen what can happen when people opt out of their right to vote. Let’s exercise our right to vote, provide proper representation for our province, and have important conversations with our kids about voting so that they hit the polls when they reach the age of 18 with an understanding of how it all works and why it matters.

I plan to vote in this year’s federal election, and so should you.

Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter at @biancabujan and Instagram at @bitsofbee.