I was always told that there are two things you should never talk about in public; politics and religion. Politics and religion are contentious topics and finding consensus can seem impossible. Debates around politics and religion have caused tremendous amounts of pain and suffering around the world. Millions of people have died for their belief in a set of political or religious values. It can often seem like an impossible task to reconcile the diverse political and religious beliefs that we see in our society.
We live in a society that accepts our right to disagree on important topics. Consensus is not forced upon us, and open debate on important issues is embedded into the fabric of Canada. We can celebrate the values we share and gain a better understanding of what makes each and every one of us different. We are free to discuss topics like religion and politics without fear of persecution. These freedoms were given to us by the fathers of confederation, and we have a responsibility to continue to be a part of these very important conversations. We live in a society where your voice matters and you have a direct say in how your country is run.
2015 is going to be a very important year for Albertans politically. We have a looming Provincial election on May 5 and there will be a Federal election this fall. Early speculation suggests that voter turnout will be very low for both elections.
It is easy to be cynical about politics. I can tell you from experience that it takes great courage to run for elected office. The vast majority of Canadians who put their name on a ballot are doing so to play a role in creating a better world for future generations. The beauty of Canada is that we have the right to disagree with our government, and we have an opportunity to choose candidates that best reflect our beliefs and values. It is our responsibility as Canadians to educate ourselves on who will best represent us in the upcoming elections.
In 2006 my nephew, Corporal Shane Keating, was killed by a suicide bomber while serving his country in Afghanistan. My nephew died while handing out school supplies, balls and biscuits to local children in hopes he could help the people of Afghanistan forge a better life for themselves. The Canadian forces fought to give the people of Afghanistan the same freedoms that we enjoy here in Canada. To date over 150 Canadian soldiers have given their lives for this cause.
In 2004 Afghanistan held Presidential elections, the first elections of any kind in Afghanistan since 1992. After casting a vote, the people of Afghanistan had their fingers dyed blue to avoid having anyone vote twice. The people of Afghanistan began to take great pride in having their fingers dyed. This symbol of their involvement in the electoral process became their badge of honour. For many this was the first time they had ever cast a vote in their entire lives.
Since 1914 over 114,000 Canadian soldiers have died serving their country. They gave their lives for a belief in a country that promotes freedom, tolerance and the protection of the vulnerable. These heroes, including my nephew, gave their lives for their belief in Canada. They died to protect our right to partake in an open and democratic society. I honour my nephew’s memory by making my voice heard and involving myself in the political process. He paid the ultimate price so that Canadians could enjoy the freedoms that are often taken for granted. In 2015 wear your own badge of honour; it is a responsibility that 114,000 Canadians died to protect.