Canadians are just different when it comes to politics

When you drive around Manitoba, it’s hard to tell that we’re headed for a provincial election. But we are. Mark your calendar.

Maybe, though, it’s just a Canadian thing: we participate in elections (by voting, volunteering, donating, etc.) but we’re not vocal and in your face about it like, you know, those people down south.

Americans view politics differently than we do. It seems like they’re always in an election campaign. After all, they don’t elect a president for another year yet the campaigning has been in full swing for months – maybe even years… since their last federal election.

For Canadians: meh, just let us know when and where to vote and we’ll be there. We do it but we’re not as impassioned as Americans. We vote but have no real emotional connection to the ballot.

We hear stories about how Thanksgiving and Christmas leads to screaming matches amid political disagreements in U.S. households. It’s a subject you tiptoe around or warn people about beforehand. At the hundreds of family gatherings I’ve attended over the years, politics has never come up. Ever. Come to think of it, American politics seems to get discussed (read: mocked, laughed at, etc.).

Like most people in this country, I’m not tuned into politics. In fact, it wasn’t until a few yard signs popped up that I even realized we’re heading to the polls in a few days.

Last weekend, in Gimli and Winnipeg Beach yard signs were few and far between. It almost made me wonder if those I spotted were leftover from a recent election. In Winnipeg, I saw barely a dozen front lawns advertising candidates as I walked my dogs with my mom around my parents’ neighbourhood.

Even though historically we have a low turnout in Manitoba, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lineup for early voting at Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg on Monday.

What’s interesting about Canadians, or at least what I’ve witnessed with my fellow Manitobans, is there isn’t loud and proud campaigning for specific candidates, so much as there is encouragement for people to vote in general. We’re not telling each other to get out and vote for so-and-so, we’re just saying to get your ass out there and vote. Usually, we only do that the day before or on election day – certainly not two years before the polls open.

People who rarely talk about politics (if ever) will post on social media or wear an “I voted” sticker to show their participation in the democratic process but not proclaim who got their support.

Again, compared to our American friends who wave flags and wear shirts and chant – riot in some cases — Canadians are much more, I dunno, chill. We’re more about the act of voting than who’s on the ballot.

While I’ve never been one of those people who’s rah-rah-get-out-and-vote-today, there is something gratifying about taking part even if we have little to no interest in the outcome.

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