Federal Election

For ten years and half my life, one Prime Minister and one political party has led the Canadian government. The upcoming federal election will be the first time that I have the right to say which political party I would like to lead Canada’s government.

As a young Canadian, I used to fall somewhere between people who were passionate about Canadian politics, and those who didn’t care at all. I tried my best to keep up with current events, but more often than not, I was just passively aware of what was happening in Canada.

Before working at Alternatives Journal, I knew almost nothing about the upcoming election except for maybe the party leaders who were running and I had a vague idea of when it was going to be held. It scared me to think that there had to be other Canadians who knew less than this.

Every article on youth voting is quick to remind us about the disappointing voter turnout of young Canadians at the 2011 Federal Election. That 38.8 per cent of youth voter’s aged 18-24 won’t seem to leave us alone. As a Canadian I have the right to vote and I do not want to be categorized as part of the group of young Canadians who don’t vote.

I did the only thing I thought I could do in this situation, which was to educate myself and bother everyone I knew to do the same.

Prior to the advance voting days, I often felt that I was not immersed enough with the political platforms to make an informed vote, even though I spent a good part of each day updating myself with election coverage.  I was confused even though my job gave me an advantage over other young Canadians. It was part of my job to know what was happening with the election and I knew what topics and issues to look out for. For the average student, knowing how to vote and knowing who to vote for seemed to be a task that they were not up for.

Convincing my peers was a challenge and to my surprise I received some resistance. Through those resistances, I found that there are definitely some barriers preventing youth from voting. The lack of knowledge and information on voting procedures and political platforms were the biggest barriers that I discovered, tied in with the lack of motivation to seek out that information. I heard some peers tell me that they didn’t know who to vote for and that was enough to initially convince themselves not to vote. 

I experienced the disengagement between young Canadians and the importance of their vote, what it means for the country and how it will affect them. Most of us don’t know what career or field we want to get into, we don’t own property and we don’t have young children. Many of us don’t think our vote will matter and with all the media attention calling young Canadians “unreliable voters,” and using that to the advantage of some political parties, it’s easy to fall into that that belief that young Canadians don’t care about this election.

However, I now know that it is far from true.

Last week I voted on campus as part of the Elections Canada pilot project, nearly 5000 other students joined me. As I arrived I saw that many campus initiatives were going on to encourage students to vote. There were Facebook events and group that provided voting information and allowed for election discussion.

Driving my family to the advanced voting polls stations on the weekend, I saw high school peers with their families casting their ballots. During the advance election days, I found that many of my young Canadian friends were encouraging others to vote on their social media accounts.

Countless young Canadians are frequently showing that they care more about Canada than the older generations give them credit for.

To all young Canadians, lets not let another horrible statistic follow us around for another four years, if you haven’t already, vote on October 19th.

Eunize Lao is the Editorial Intern and a third-year Environment and Business student at the University of Waterloo. 

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