Blog by Mary Cleaver

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The (Great?) Debate

Watching the televised Provincial Leaders Debate this week has got me thinking about everything but real estate!

  I participated in a focus group on Monday night. Along with 34 strangers, I watched the debate and recorded in real time whether or not I was persuaded by the arguments presented by the candidates.

When it was over, we split into groups (male and female) to discuss our impressions and opinions with a moderator. I didn't contribute to the conversation for several minutes, wanting instead to listen to the other women in the room. I had a pretty good idea of who I thought had performed well and what surprised, impressed, or disappointed me.

The biggest surprise of the night came when I heard the wide variety of differing opinions around that table. I felt at certain moments that I must have been watching another channel during the previous 90 minutes! Leaders' arguments I agreed with were being ridiculed, personal attacks I found offensive were being applauded, talking points that have lost all meaning to me having been repeated throughout this campaign and others, were resonating with my fellow British Columbians.

I know I shouldn't be surprised by this. Why would I think that a group of randomly selected citizens spanning generations and demographics would receive the same message and have the same reaction?

But here is what it brought home to me. Vote.

Some of my readers probably believe the system is so flawed, the debate so media driven, the politicians so dishonest as to render the whole exercise meaningless. Perhaps some believe that by not voting, they are speaking more clearly. I disagree with this premise - the parties could attribute a low voter turnout to the weather or any number of factors.

If we don't vote, we are passing up a chance to directly participate in our government.  And you can bet the other people around that table are exercising their right to be heard.

So vote. Vote strategically, vote for the party with the best platform or the party that best reflects your values, spoil your ballot, or vote for a candidate with no chance of winning. But get to the ballot box in advance or on May 14.

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Thanks for reading!