Bishops remind Canadians of their duty to vote in upcoming elections

Canada’s Catholic bishops are reminding people of their duty to be engaged in political issues and to be out at the polling booths on Election Day.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to announce an election by the end of May.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued its traditional pre-election message last month. “Election 2004: Responsibility and Discernment” urges Canadians to be active in politics all the time.

“Engagement in the political process is a constant civic duty, not only during electoral campaigns,” reads the statement.

The bishops’ statement was released after the Canadian government released data showing that voter participation is at an all-time low. At the last general elections in November 2000, only 61 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot – the lowest since Canada was granted its independence in 1867.

The bishops also pose 13 questions for politicians and citizens to ponder as the campaign season approaches. The questions focus on a variety of contentious issues mainly same-sex marriage and the right to life; but also ballistic missile defence, aboriginal rights, medicare and poverty.

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