Make your vote count 

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In general federal elections, it is common for the biggest parties to focus on issues such as the economy, health care, security, and seniors' needs.

But something different has tied the issues together in this election — something I would argue has not been noticeable before — community.

Perhaps it really became obvious after the Conservatives reminded us recently that Canada now has the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, and, voters were told that if re-elected, the government would establish an RCMP task force, and a "tip line" for Canadians who wish to call the police to denounce someone, a neighbour say, for engaging in a barbaric cultural practice.

This is actually part of amendments that were made to the Immigration Act and Criminal code that address actions or behaviours that are already against the law here — honour killings (murder by another name), polygamy and underage arranged marriages to name some.

But the timing of the "tip-line" announcement, coming as it did amongst headlines of the government stripping citizenship from people convicted of extremism, of women fighting for the right to wear a niqab at a citizenship ceremony, raised the profile of the issue to an emotional level and thereby gave it a weight out of proportion to its importance.

Surely it goes without saying that if you suspected someone was involved in an honour killing you would step forward to bring the guilty parties to justice?

But the Conservatives raised this to a level of fear mongering that makes most Canadians shudder.

I would argue this has not worked out the way the Conservatives hoped. Canadians, for the most part, will remain community-minded and will be good neighbours.

In a recent CBC interview on The Current, guest Susan Delacourt, a senior columnist with the Toronto Star and author of Shopping for Votes: How Politicians Choose Us and We Choose Them, said the rise of the community in the election has been, "... a really interesting part of the election campaign. Every election campaign has hope and fear in it and it is usually economic.

"This campaign to me, for good or for bad, is revolving around people's neighbours — do you feel hopeful, do you feel optimistic, do you feel friendly toward them or do you feel suspicious of them, and I think that theme has showed up a few times in (Justin) Trudeau's speeches.

"Harper is the person who wants to make you suspicious of the person next door, whereas (Trudeau's message is), 'I am the person who wants to welcome them,' and that is a really interesting and new theme in Canadian elections."

I would argue the same theme runs through the debates on all issues involving climate change.

Yes the economy is very important to voters but the context has moved away from "take what you can and give nothing back," to taking what is sustainable and for many voters here in Sea to Sky building an LNG plant at Woodfibre is not a "neighbourly" endeavour.

(In case you missed it locally — Conservatives support LNG, Liberals support it with conditions attached, the NDP candidate does not support it and neither does the Green Party.)

It looks like voter numbers are up over the last federal election — thank goodness, as a 61 per cent turn out is shameful — with Elections Canada reporting that 2.4 million Canadians voted in the first three days of the advance polls. On the fourth day of advance voting another 1.2 million cast their ballots.

On Friday Oct. 9, the first day of advance polling, 850,000 Canadians voted, a 26 per cent increase over 2011 and a 90 per cent jump over the first day of advance polls in 2008.

While advance polls are not usually a reliable indication of how many people will cast ballots on official voting day, Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, told the Calgary Herald earlier this week that there are signs that turnout in the Oct. 19 race will outpace that of recent races.

The election is highly competitive and this will likely motivate more voters to cast ballots, Williams said.

It would be dangerous to speculate on what the final outcome will be though as Pique goes to press it appears as if the Liberals are pulling ahead.

But there is also a chance that Canada could end up with a minority government, and we know that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already said publicly that he won't lead a minority Conservative government.

We also know that Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair will not support a minority Conservative party to govern.

If no party wins a majority of the seats in the House, the Governor General will invite the party with the most seats to form the government. And this government will have to work with the other parties in order to actually govern Canada.

So as you head to the polls think about not just our local representatives, but also about what Canada could look like on Oct. 20.



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