Throughout this election the youth-vote has become a topic of discussion. Triggered by an infamous Rick Mercer rant, thousands of students around the country have participated in “vote mobs” – voting at special booths approved by Elections Canada at the universities.
In Canada, an average of only 36 per cent of youth between 18 and 24 vote.
I fall into that category. I’m 19, and this will be my first election as a voter. I’m excited to vote. And apparently, I’m one of the few youth in Canada who is.
Many people say the youth of Canada don’t vote because the issues in the election don’t touch them, that we’re apathetic, that we’re lazy.
Perhaps, they suggest, if voting was online, youth would vote because it’s easy. It would just take the touch of a button.
Recently, Williams Lake Secondary School, hosted an all-candidates debate for the grade 11-12 students from both high schools.
While some students there professed a sure dislike of politics, some others only attended because their teacher told them to, and there was the occasional student sleeping in the back, many students were actually engaged, asking questions.
“What are the economic policies of each party?” One young man asked, “How does each party differ?”
“How do you plan to improve the health-care system?” questioned another.
An upset third-generation rancher demanded to know “What will you do to help the ranches?”
I myself asked about university tuition and how each party planned to help those of us attending post-secondary education in the next few years.
As the debate drew to a close, individual students could be found talking to each of the candidates, getting more information. Learning. So why aren’t all youth interested? I don’t know.
And so, party platforms mostly ignore us, and we continue to be represented by people that only a third of us have voted for.
Weren’t youth once the movers and the shakers of the world? The political activists? Those who created change? The youth are the future and if we don’t vote, what will we think of the world we inherit?
– Tara Sprickerhoff,
Columneetza student intern