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En-Cora-gement: Give The Kids The Vote – by Dale Topham

January 31st, 2021 · 7 Comments · Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy, Politics

Here’s a beautiful inspiring story about proactively engaging young people in democracy.  And I mean young people under 18!

It’s a story about generosity and generations, empowerment and inclusion, doing the right thing, and putting your good where it will do the most (as Ken Kesey used to advise).

It’s told by a fellow Canadian Prankster Brother who’s technically named Dale Topham, but is known in preferred circles as “Gubba” — which this New Yorker expanded to “Gubba Gubba Hey!” to refrain a certain hometown punk band.

As Brutha Gubba tells it . . .

In the most recent Canadian election [2019], I let my 11-year-old granddaughter, Cora, choose how I would cast my ballot.

It started because I was in an unusual muddle about whom to vote for.  I generally vote Liberal in Canadian elections.  In 1963, my first time voting, I supported Lester B. Pearson, then became a full-fledged member of Trudeau-mania (for Justin’s father Pierre).  Since then I don’t believe I ever cast a federal vote for anyone but a Liberal, right up to supporting Justin Trudeau his first time out in 2015.

But Justin disappointed me in spades.  Once he was elected he changed 180 degrees from opposing to supporting the Trans Mountain Pipeline [bringing dirty tar sands oil across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean].  And then he used political pressure to intercede in a case against a Quebec-based construction company.

It was clear to me that for the first time in my life, I would not be voting Liberal.

To muddy the waters further, our Liberal candidate, Terry Beech, was far and away the best choice of those running in my riding!  He’s a hard working young man who’s on the right side of all the issues I care about, but all he could do was promise to apply whatever pressure he could when those issues were discussed.

When the election was called, the Conservative candidate was Heather Leung. About a week into the campaign, some film surfaced of her making extreme anti-gay remarks from a Christian religious right point of view. They were so bad that she was kicked out of the party immediately.

To make this tricky choice even harder, the NDP Candidate, Svend Robinson, was once our long-standing Member of Parliament. He was also the first Canadian MP to declare himself openly gay, but had left politics about ten years ago when he was convicted of stealing an expensive ring from an auction house. Now he was back looking for my support. From a philosophical point of view, I would tend to support the NDP over the Conservatives, but a jewelry thief?  I think not!

Among all these flawed choices, there was a young woman representing the Green Party.  She looked like the best candidate to me, but the Greens got less than 2,000 votes in our very populous riding last election. To me, this looked like throwing away my vote.

So there I was.

In other news — once a week I would pick up my granddaughter Cora after school and take her to her climbing class, about a 20 minute drive. All the street-side political signs turned our conversation to the election. I told her about my dilemma with Trudeau, and she told me they were having a mock election at her school, and that they were going to be learning about the issues and about what the parties were representing. I told her that if she could figure out who to vote for she should tell me! And we both laughed.

Over the next few weeks we talked about what she was learning. She told me if the election were held today, she would vote Green, and said it was mainly because of their position on environmental issues and climate change. I said her reasoning was very sound and that I thought young people would probably make better choices than their parents.

And that’s when the lightbulb came on!

I told her then and there that I would give her my vote in the real election, and that if she ever changed her mind from Green (she never did) just to let me know and I would vote for whomever she said.

I told my wife Rene what I had promised Cora and that I would be voting Green. Every time we discussed it, Rene would say something like, “You know Terry Beech (the Liberal) is the best candidate in our riding,” which I would counter with, “… but I just can’t support Trudeau!” Obviously she was still going to vote Liberal, as we always do.

On election day, as we left the polling station, she asked me, “Did you vote Green?”  I said “Yeah.”  And she said … “So did I.”  Boy, was Gubba happy!  And I couldn’t wait to tell Cora!

For the record, our Liberal candidate won, the jewelry thief came second, and the ousted religious zealot came third. Our Green candidate came fourth with over 4,000 votes — but more than double what she got last time.

My granddaughter is so proud & pleased that she was involved. She’s always been very adult and we treat her that way. And now she’s voting before her time and feeling the power of having her voice heard and counted. Of everything we’ve happily given her over the years, we all three agree this was maybe the best present ever.

~ = ~ = ~ = ~ = ~ * ~ = ~ = ~ = ~ = ~

Giving the gift of the vote.

We’re always reminded that “people died” so we could have the right to vote.  Well, now you can give it to somebody who doesn’t have the right — and nobody has to die!

It’s such a mind-flippingly beautiful twisteroo Prankster concept — giving the power to the purity of smart young people who see the world with unpolluted eyes to suss the good guys from the bad, the good ideas from the baloney.  Adults listening to pundits or their pub pals sure haven’t been installing the most evolved visionaries … or even functionaries.  So how ’bout if we go ahead and let some fresh voices in the choir.

Vote swapping is already something gaining popularity in both the U.S. and Canada the last couple elections — how about giving the gift of political engagement to someone younger who will get in the habit of using it including long after the gift-giver is gone.



You can read this story and a whole bunch more in my latest book — Blissfully Ravaged in Democracy:  Adventures in Politics 1980 – 2020.


by Brian Hassett   —

Or here’s my Facebook account if you wanna join in there —


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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Brian // Jan 31, 2021 at 9:42 PM

    Thank YOU for making it a reality.
    May it inspire others.

    Creating new lifelong voters one at a time. 🙂

  • 2 Gubba Topham // Jan 31, 2021 at 5:07 PM

    I can’t thank you enough for liking my little ‘Cora’ story enough to include it in your fabulous book, “Blissfully Ravaged In Democracy.” Thank you again, Brian.

  • 3 Gl Weatherford // Feb 2, 2021 at 10:04 PM

    Gl Weatherford
    Voting: Very important for young people to be taught this and to be educated voters.

  • 4 Brian // Feb 3, 2021 at 12:17 AM

    Yeah! And I love the idea of empowering the young even before they reach voting age.

  • 5 Sandra Goodman // Feb 5, 2021 at 10:14 PM

    Young voters are certainly not going for the old racist Republicans. The more who turn out to vote the better this country is going to be.

    Way to go, Cora and Dale.

  • 6 Jeanne Burgess // Feb 7, 2021 at 10:21 AM

    The kids are alright!

  • 7 Donna Lewis // Feb 11, 2021 at 8:24 PM

    Yay Dale! Yay Cora! Yay Brian!

    More of this, please!

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