07/23/2013 05:43 EDT | Updated 09/22/2013 05:12 EDT

It's Time to Celebrate Everyday Political Citizens

You could almost hear the Canadian electorate breathe a collective sigh of relief this year when legislatures across the country went on their summer recesses. With scandals dotting the land and dominating the headlines, it hasn't been the best year in Canadian politics.

Given political goings-on it's no wonder people are checking out of the political world and channelling their energies elsewhere. Samara's most recent survey revealed that while 55 per cent of Canadians do some sort of voluntary work, only 10 per cent have volunteered in a political campaign. That's unlikely to change if politics doesn't put a better foot forward.

On the other side of things, the Canadian electorate can also play a role in increasing political participation. While initiatives like "National Volunteer Week" that exploded on Twitter this year create a culture of appreciation and respect around volunteering, social cues don't exactly push us to get involved politically. In fact, a recent study in the U.S. showed that most parents don't want their children to become politicians, and it's not a stretch to think that many Canadian parents don't either.

But imagine if, in the same way we celebrate volunteers, we celebrated people who take the time to be political. Everyone knows the type, the campaign volunteers, the community organizers, and the advocacy groups who work behind-the-scenes and engage with the political system, despite its shortcomings, to improve their communities.

Through Samara's Everyday Political Citizen project we've heard many great stories about such people. Like Pascale Halliday, Tristan and Cayley Sparks, young students from the Yukon Territory who wanted to save their high school gym and ended up organizing a peaceful protest and presenting a petition to the Yukon Legislature to achieve their goal. Or Dr. Ryan Meili whose experiences working abroad and in Saskatoon's medical system led him to write a book about government health policies and to run for leadership of the NDP in Saskatchewan.

What this project is making clear is that getting a little bit political doesn't have to mean pretending you own a home in PEI. It can mean attending a PTA meeting, speaking out about same-sex marriage, writing to your MP about a community centre in your neighbourhood, or choosing to buy "made in Canada" products. All of these everyday activities are political, and maybe if we take the time to celebrate people who do them, then more Canadians will get on board.

If you know an inspiring Everyday Political Citizen, send us your nomination here.

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