If an election were to have been held today, and “mandatory” voting was law as Koby has proposed, I would not have voted.
Granted that those who argued against me over in the comments section of Koby’s article did suggest that a valid excuse could be provided, I wonder if my day today would have been a “valid” excuse to some beuracrat given the power to decide on whether an excuse was good enough.
First, my day started quite early. 5:00AM in fact. By 5:30, I was sipping coffee, enjoying my first cigarette of the day, and going through the night’s email. A few urgent messages that I needed to react and respond to if I wanted to ensure some continuity with regard to one of the services my business offers.
That took me about an hour to complete.
By 6:30, I was hard at work on an urgent job for a client. This client employs about 20 people, pays them well, and has their own clients throughout North America. Due to some business changes, they needed some work done asap. There would have been no time between 6:30AM and 10:00AM to shower, dress, and head off to any polling station. Total concentration was required in order to complete this work for them right away.
However, at 9:30AM, I received a phone call from another client that needed to discuss something of importance. After I showered and got out of my pyjamas at 10:30, I returned the message. The telephone call was too important to me to cut off short so I could go to some polling booth. It took about 45 minutes to deal with which meant it was about 11:15 by the time it was done.
I took a five minute smoke break because I wanted to, and then got into some other work that I wanted to complete before a very important meeting in the afternoon.
That very important meeting was with my three year old son, who was looking forward to an “adventure” with Dad.
See, one of my hobbies is winemaking. And nature being what nature is, doesn’t really give a shit about when elections are called. When grapes are ready to be harvested, they are ready for harvest, and they don’t give a shit when Paul Martin decides to call an election for his own best interests.
This year, although the grape crop was lousy in quantity, it was high on quality, and I had already made a committment to myself – and my friends – to do some winemaking from fresh, unpasteurized, Canadian Niagara grown grape must. Two days ago I got the call that the must I had ordered was ready – yesterday I was unable to travel to pick it up, so today was the only day I had.
And I had promised my son a long car ride and an adventure with his dad.
But in order to prepare for what I must do after picking up the grape must, I had to spend some time at a couple of other local shops here in Orangeville. That took up time after I did the other necessary duties for my clients earlier in the day.
I also had to get to where I was going befor a certain time – that time being before when employees go home – and get their own two hours off to vote if necessary.
So, I didn’t have much time to spare, and there was no way I was going to ruin this day that I had promised my son by ending up standing in a line that who knows how long would take. Perhaps it would have only taken 10 minutes by the time I had driven to the polling station – perhaps it might take longer. I just didn’t want to risk having a great day with my son.
And of course, if I really intended on complying with a mandatory voting order, I could have simply hoped I’d get back to my home polling area in time.
David was so excited as we both got into the car, and headed towards Niagara. He sang songs, looked at me in the mirror, laughed, and talked with me. At one point, we had to stop for a train – he was thrilled to see a “choo choo train!”
And I was thrilled to be there with him, in a car, far far away from any polling station.
We saw horses and cows as we travelled, and went over bridges. We saw Lake Ontario and ships when we drove over the Burlington Skyway. I smiled at David as I looked at him in the rearview mirror, recalling my own dad pointing out things to me when I was a little kid. And how much I enjoyed his time and his love. When I was a little kid, I didn’t care about votes or polls or elections. Being with my dad was the best.
I wonder if David thinks the same way. We sure had fun anyhow.
Finally, we arrived at Lakeview Cellars just outside of Beamsville. Poor David had been sitting in his car seat for about two hours, not complaining at all – but – he sure needed to spend some time running around.
If an election were to have been held today, with mandatory voting, well, my son would have got my vote, as we walked around the vineyard, and I watched as he excitedly pointed out grapes on vines to me. “Look, Dad! More wine juice berries! Blue ones.”
Each row of vines, he wanted to check out, and look at the grapes. He was fascinated by it all. Then, as his little legs continued to expel energy, and we arrived at the end of the rows of vines, we saw pretty flowers, and checked them out together. We watched white butterflies with black dots on their wings flying from flower to flower.
We saw a bee. “Daddy, bees just LOVE flowers, you know. See? The bee is stuck on the flower, Daddy!”
Ah, thoughts of elections would have been the furthest from my mind. Oh, I suppose if an election were held today, and there was “mandatory” voting, I suppose, I could have given up more time with David, and being awed by his own awe and discovery.
For what though?
So a bunch of assholes can argue two and a half sword lengths apart about how they will spend my money when I choose to work?
After the drive, David really needed to walk and run around, and by gosh, he was loving it, seeing new things, asking Daddy questions, and even telling Daddy new things! A couple of times, Daddy asked, “Hey David, time to walk back towards the car so we can go home?”
“No! Look at the pretty flowers, Daddy! Look at the wine juice berries. Oh Daddy, did you hear that?” as we listened to the sounds of fake shotgun blasts meant to scare the birds away from the grapes.
“I heard that, David!”
“Let’s take some pictures, David.”
“OK! OK, Daddy! Me and you doing ‘cheese’ together.”
We take some pictures. Time marches on. David and I have been walking around, sometimes holding hands, for the past two hours. It’s about two hours to drive home.
I finally convince David that it’s time to find Daddy’s car. We walk back, but David finds apples on the ground. He wants to play with them. Pick them up. Look at them. See what happens when he throws them. I let him learn. I let him observe.
I learn somethings while I observe David. Valuable things, to me.
David gives me a hug and says, “This is a good adventure, Daddy.”
I smile, laugh, hold his hand, and I don’t give two hoots what Paul Martin, Stephen Harper or Jack Layton are doing. I’m as far away from thoughts of politics as anyone can be. Totally disinterested. I have no anger about what some jerk in Ottawa is doing or planning, or how they might be scheming to try to get those last final votes.
I’m in love. I couldn’t care less if I’m a “Canadian” or not. I couldn’t care less if David is a “Canadian.” I couldn’t care less about the “Canadian way” to do things. I’m in love with my son, and he’s in love with me, and we are sharing that love together.
And we are on an adventure together! An adventure that allows him to learn new things, explore things, observe, try, touch, smell, and feel.
Finally, we get in the car, and I buckle him in to his seat after he spends some time teasing me that he is going to drive the car and I’m going to sit in the back seat. Folks had come out to watch David, and they smiled at him and enjoyed him and his mind and his ways. They smiled at me. The went all “goo goo” when David looks up at me, hugs my leg, and tells me he loves me. People seemed just downright happy to watch a three year old explore and learn about his world, and express love to his Daddy.
We get in the car and drive, and I’m getting tired and want a coffee. I look in my rear view mirror and tell David I’m stopping for a coffee, and he smiles back and says, “Yes. I come with you to get coffee, Daddy.”
We go into Tim Horton’s wait in line until it is my turn. More time spent. I order ten chocolate Tim Bits and an extra large double double. David has no idea what’s in the box that contains the Tim Bits.
He doesn’t even care while he holds my hand as we walk back to the car, and he gets buckled back in again.. but then.. when I open up the box, I watch as his eyes open wide, and he smiles. He know’s that the chocolate tim bit is “yummy” and that he’s going to get one, even though I tease him.. and he laughs and smiles at me.
More time spent.
We drive home, and I keep an eye on David in my rear view mirror. He knows I’m watching him, and he smiles at me. I also watch as he looks around, looks at big trucks, buses, and the scenery flashing by. He asks for another chocolate tim bit. I reach it to him.
We drive home past more horses and cows. He makes “mooo” sounds. I laugh with him. Eventually, we see the town water tower, and David reads off the letters that he can see.
Ten minutes later, we’re home. It’s close to 8PM. He holds my hand after we get out of the car, and then lets my hand go as he races to the door, yelling, “Tell mommy about adventure!”
If there was an election today, the polls would have closed in about an hour. But I went inside the house with David, and listened to him tell Mommy all about his adventure. Things he noticed that I had no idea, like the train crossing arms going up after the train had passed.
I get my must out of the car and bring into the house. David follows me around. Next thing I know, it’s 9PM. Wouldn’t that be about the time the polls would close if there were an election?
I guess I would have missed it.
My excuse? Being a dad. Spending time with my loved one. Doing stuff I personally value and will remember for decades longer than marking some ballot, “None of the above.”
Think that excuse would pass the “fine police?” I bet there are some out there that would even have me thrown in jail for such a “trite” excuse for not voting today, if there had been an election and it was mandatory to vote.
They would throw me in jail because I valued my clients this morning. And then valued my son and his learning and his wonderful adventure far more than I valued marking “none of the above” on a ballot.
Ah, coercion is “ambiguous” to those folk. Well, there ain’t fucking anything ambiguous about loving my son, and spending time doing what I value, far effin more than marking an X or ruining a ballot after being in a lineup with idiots.
So throw me in jail. And when you do, bear in mind you may motivate the creation of a terrorist that resents your fucking god damned rules and regulations that would coerce me into how YOU think I should spend my time – whether it’s five minutes, ten minutes, an hour, or even 30 bloody seconds of my life.
You can see a lot in a child’s face in 30 seconds you know. Don’t you fucking dare try to take that joy away from me, just because you think I should participate in some system that is garbage. Explain it to my three year old son.. how marking a bloody X on a ballot is more important than seeing white butterflies with spots on their wings, or bees hopping back and forth between flowers.
Or more important than a 30 second hug from Dad. Or watching trains. Or looking at “wine juice berries.”
You want me to vote? What if I just say “no.” And you can come pick me up off the ground, with my son hugging me while we say “NO!” to you, together.
As far as I am concerned, adventures with Daddy are far more important than picking some ass that will take my labour and it’s value for what he thinks it should be worth – not for what others are willing to pay – which includes hugs, laughter, holding hands, and watching my wee man grow.
Take your mandatory this and mandatory that and stick it up your rear end for all the good it will do me and my values, and how I choose to spend my time.
A 30 second hug from my son is far more valuable than anything you could ever try to coerce me into doing.
And if you didn’t have a dad that would do the same or think the same for you, well.. I’m sorry about that. But MY SON does have a dad that thinks every 30 seconds is valuable, and by god if I’m going to let you take that away from him, just because you think it is reasonable. I DON’T think it is reasonable.
So yeah, I’ll reiterate: “Piss off, will ya?”