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St. Albertans motivated by civic duty to cast their ballots

“If you don't take that opportunity, then I believe you forfeit your right to complain about it later. It’s just something that we need to do as Canadians,” said voter Don Petruka on Monday.
2209 vote-streeters CC
Students Marianne Khoury (left) and Christiane Bilodeau cast their votes for the first time in a federal election. The students said voting is important to their generation. JESSICA NELSON/St. Albert Gazette

Foot traffic in the mall was quiet but steady at St. Albert Centre when the polls opened on Monday morning.

It was the final day of the 44th general election and voters across the country casted their ballots in what has been projected to be a tight race between the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Christiane Bilodeau, a student at the University of Alberta, voted for the first time this year. She decided to vote because she feels like it’s her responsibility.

“I think it's kind of always been a thing with the younger generation, promoting voting, even celebrities and public figures you see on the Internet. I've also always kind of felt like it was my responsibility, too,” she said.

Marianne Khoury is also a student at the University of Alberta. She said she came out to vote because voting gives her a part in being and seeing a change.

Both Khoury and Bilodeau said politics are something they have discussed with their friends.

“I think especially since we're first-time voters, that's a big deal, right? So, then you’d want to participate,” said Khoury.

Peter Shipka is a chiropractor in St. Albert who has voted in every election for the last 30 to 40 years. He believes in the democratic process.

“Especially as close as it is with the Liberals and Conservatives being tied, I wanted to make sure that my feelings about our current government were represented,” he said.

Shipka thinks calling an election was the wrong choice.

“I’m not pleased about it, especially with the cost … I just wish it was a provincial election,” he said.

Shipka said this election was the smoothest he has experienced, and Elections Canada has done a great job.

“They're doing a great job with the pandemic mandates of trying to keep people separated during the process. And it was very easy. It was really well done,” he said.

Noelle Appleby, a registered nurse in an intensive care unit, went to vote Monday morning after completing a 12-hour shift. She feels the election was inappropriately timed.

“Maybe our resources could have been placed to different crises that are happening right now, especially our health-care crisis right now,” she said.

Amy Appleby, who works in the federal government and was with Noelle, said she feels the same.

“If it really did cost $600 million like they're saying, we could have put that toward the shortages, the nurses, the health care, helping people,” she said.

Noelle said she came out to vote because she feels it is her duty and she is disheartened that some people don’t feel that same sense of duty.

“Listening on the news this morning, they were saying that a lot of people are indifferent, so they just won't vote. So that's disheartening. Hopefully everybody does,’ Noelle said.

Appleby hopes fears about the pandemic aren’t going to keep people at home.

“I do hope people come out because it would be really disheartening to know that people were afraid, because of COVID they didn't come out and vote. And I think that there are those people out there,” said Appleby.

Ryan and Jayne Degenhardt also cast their ballots Monday morning. Ryan said he is trying to do his part.

 “I remember reading the indifference of good men is what kills humanity so, here I am trying to do my part — whether I want to or not,” he said.

Jayne said she was finding the selection a little difficult to choose a candidate.

“But [I] also feel that it's important to exercise that democratic right and be part of the be part of the process and hopefully part of the solution,” she said.

Don Petruka is a contract mechanic and said voting is an opportunity to have a say in what’s going on in the country.

“If you don't take that opportunity, then I believe you forfeit your right to complain about it later. It’s just something that we need to do as Canadians,” he said.

Petruka said the timing was unnecessary in his mind, but he hopes the election brings in change.

He said he has strong political opinions, but he has been holding in his opinions both personally and on social media throughout election because he wants everybody to make their own decisions.

Petruka said Monday he posted on social media about the election for the first time.

“It is taking me a lot of self-control to go through this entire election campaign without giving [people] my opinions. I will not tell you who to vote for. I only ask that you get out and vote tonight,” he wrote.

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