Jean Swanson - Voting is a Privilege & a DutySaturday, October 20, 2018
Voting for me is a privilege that I do not take lightly. Because I was born in Argentina upon reaching the legal age of18 while living in Mexico City and in Austin, Texas it never occurred to me to vote via absentee ballot. In those years, the late 50s politics was of no importance to me.
Then I suddenly became patriotic and I traveled to Buenos Aires in 1966 for my two year conscription in the Argentine Navy. The law then in Argentina was that those in the military could not vote.
But I did “vote” in a way I would have never predicted. I was sent with a contingent of sailors, soldiers and airforce conscripts to surround the Casa Rosada on the 28th of June 1966. The officers in charge gave the freely elected (and very honest country doctor) Arturo Illía an hour to leave. He went home in a taxi.
The next day the junta abolished the Argentine Constitution that I had sworn to defend months before in a lovely ceremony, the political parties and pretty well declared an emergency.
Then for many years I was not able to vote because the government in my country was a dictatorship.
By the time I arrived in Vancouver I had little respect for politics. But once I became a Canadian citizen my viewpoint changed. Since then and thanks to my jobs with magazines I was able to meet and photograph many of the politicians of this country.
I fondly remember going to a local meeting at a community in which John Turner, who was running for prime minister, was the speaker. We were served coffee and doughnuts.
Today my Rosemary and I walked two blocks to vote for Vancouver municipal elections. We were met by a pleasant man wearing a loud tie and a huge smile welcoming us in. I could not have begun to explain to him that in my former country and in others in Latin America the voting places would have had soldiers with machine guns outside. The whole process was smooth and free of bureaucracy.
I believe that some members of my family have never voted. Perhaps someday they will come to understand that voting is a privilege not often had anywhere else. And it is an obligation, too.
While I don’t particularly want to tell anybody whom I voted for (that is most personal) I will make one exception. Years ago I met Jean Swanson and I was most impressed by her when I took my photograph.
I voted for her and I will drop one more hint, my Rosemary and I voted most feminist.