Archive

Tag Archives: Youth Engagement

By: Chris Burke

The stated goal of The 1837 Society is to, “provide a forum in which Canadian youth may discuss and analyze in an informed, academic manner domestic issues of policy, governance, and democratic engagement”.  While the editors have worked hard to create this forum and ensure its continuance, I feel that we could be doing more to engage youth, but how do we go about this?

Should our writings focus more specifically on “youth” issues?  In my writings, I tend to not make “youth” my focus.  I’m not excluding them on purpose, but the issues I tend to address affect all age groups, e.g., climate change.  Could it be that we are putting ourselves into a small frame of view, if we only focus on “youth” issues?  Further, what exactly do we define as a “youth” issue?  The first thing that comes to my mind would be affordable education.  However, this concern isn’t exclusive to youth.  A trained workforce should be the concern of older age groups as well.  Rarely does an issue take place in isolation from another one.   This leads to another question.  Rather than asking, “How do we focus on youth issues?”, maybe we need to ask, “Should we focus on youth issues?”

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By: Clement Nocos

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the schoolyard bullying and trash-talking taking place recently within SO 31 Members’ statements. Liberal leader MP Bob Rae has criticized the recent state of the SO 31:

“(Members’ statements) were not intended to be partisan rants that are written by 25-year-old enthusiasts in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

You’d think this has had something to do with the unprecedented number of young people in the House of Commons today. Such juvenile language during debate and misuse of members’ statements could only be perpetuated by the immature baby MPs that sit on the backbenches, right?

Looking through last week’s debate hansards (i know, thrilling), I’ve picked out each SO31 made by every MP, 30 years of age or younger, who have made stood for a members’ statement from October 15th to the 19th. Here’s what young MPs have said in their SO31s:

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By: Clement Nocos

Speaking at last month’s inaugural Jack Layton Lecture at Ryerson University was McGill professor emeritus, Charles Taylor, on the topic of “reimagining, restoring, and reclaiming democracy” in Canada. He pointed to the combination of dynamic shifts in Canadian public and political culture, the growth of socioeconomic inequality since the 1970s, along with divergent generational experiences as some of the reasons behind the declining trend in voter turnout in Canada and throughout Western democracies in recent decades. Taylor suggests that there is a rise in doubt amongst youth and other particular segments of the electorate in existing political organizations, institutions, and traditions which he describes as a decline in the notion of “citizen efficacy”; the effectiveness of citizen participation in producing results.

These points aren’t surprising; according to Samara Canada’s democracy report, The Real Outsiders, politically disengaged youth have cited feelings of exclusion from the political process.  Young Canadians, though they bear the brunt of recent social and economic hardships, have come to feel as though there is little to no benefit in traditional forms of civic participation such as voting although collective political action could reverse these burdens. There is a sense of “civic inequality” that accompanies the socioeconomic inequality that dissuades youth from voting in numbers. When today’s young people, a generation with much less wealth than older age groups, feel that money has an even greater influence on politics than their own votes, it can be easy to see why youth can doubt our democracy.

It is also hard for youth to feel like they are insiders in a political system where they are virtual outsiders. Until very recently, young Canadians have had little real representation of their age group in the House of Commons. Environmental and Internet issues, topics that resonate deeply among the youth electorate, are at the backburner of government agendas. As 21 year-old MP Charmaine Borg remarked recently, in regards to House reaction over her Question Period statement on Internet security, “I think they’re still getting used to young people being in Parliament.”

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By: James Rimmer

On Aug. 30 I attempted to vote at the advanced poll for the Kitchener-Waterloo byelection located in the University of Waterloo SLC. I was turned away because as a co-op student I had no current documentation indicating I held an address in the riding that I have lived in since 2008.

My question is this: how could I have voted? How can I ensure this does not happen again? Would it be possible to broaden the documents accepted to allow students like myself to vote?

I am a University of Waterloo co-op student. I move every four months between school and work terms. As a result, I have all my mail — bills, T-4s, tuition statements, postcards, and letters — sent to my parents’ address in Ottawa as it would be far too much effort to constantly update my address. Due to the short nature of my residency I, and many other UW co-op students, tend to sublet and do not sign leases.

What am I to do? How could I have voted? At the polling station they indicated that documents indicating residency was now required even for the oath. Is this true?

I honestly do live in Waterloo. I wanted to honestly vote and engage in our democracy. Yet because of the educational path I have chosen, because I am a co-op student, I was denied the vote. I am not alone in this. Many co-op students do not vote because they simply can’t meet your evidence requirements.

We students need to vote in our university town. Practically, it is much more difficult for us to vote in our parents’ ridings. We must either travel extensive distances or mail in our votes if we are away at school when an election is called. To be truly participatory a democracy must be accessible — that is why returning officers are sent to homeless shelters and seniors homes. Yet I must take an eight hour bus ride or mail my vote across the province?

More importantly, we must vote in our schools’ ridings because for us to vote in our parents’ ridings would be a fundamental misrepresentation of our democracy. A riding is meant to be the representation of a community; an MPP is a leader who speaks for the people who make up a community.

When co-op students vote in communities where they no longer live it alters those communities and disengages students with the community they are actually apart of, their university town.

Denying students’ residency only sends the message that we are unwelcome and that we do not belong; that we have no voice in decisions that greatly impact our lives such as public transportation and zoning.

Would it be possible to issue a new document, or accept other documentation like student cards to allow my friends and I to vote? Could we be ruled homeless and be allowed to register with a shelter? I understand preventing voter fraud is important and necessary, but surely something can be done to allow us, active, engaged youth who wish to be part of the communities around us, to vote.

Let us in. Let us vote.

Originally posted in Imprint, UW’s Student Newspaper, 14 September 2012

http://www.theimprint.ca/article/2029-open-letter-to-elections-ontario