Sunday, 13 September 2015

Post 62: When Student Life and Real Life Collide: Voting in the Federal Election

I've been feeling a lot of anticipation, stress, excitement, etc. about the upcoming federal election, and being quite an introvert, and having too much on my plate as is, I decided to do the one thing that I comfortably feel I can contribute: write an article for the school newspaper (The Martlet) about encouraging students to vote, expressing what's at stake, and addressing some of the unique factors affecting the student vote.

The two age categories that students predominantly fall into had the lowest voter participation rates in the country during the last federal election: 18-25 year-olds were at 38.8.1%, while the 25-35 year-olds rate of participation was 45.1% (according to Elections Canada).

To me, that means that the concerns, issues, and vision of the future that people my age have are not represented at the federal stage, and indeed, when I look at a number of the policies, goals, and record of the country, I don't see what I value there, whether it has to do with addressing the gender wage gap, coming up with a comprehensive strategy to address climate change mitigation and preparing to adapt to the climate changes that the current emissions scenario has us committed to (In 2013, Canada won the "Lifetime Unachievement Fossil Award" for it's incredibly uncooperative, and unhelpful, and deliberately counter-productive role in international climate change negotiations, which is so disgraceful), decriminalizing marijuana, addressing the high cost of pharmaceuticals in Canada, developing a national clean-tech and renewable energy strategy, having a National Science Adviser and more... there are so many issues that I care about that I don't see being worked on or addressed!

A golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) in my neighbourhood. Lovely splash of colour!
Anyways. I am putting out a big call to friends and their networks: please vote, and get your friends to, too. We comprise 20% of the nation's population, and we can have a significant impact to the vote this time. We need to vote. And -- for the first time, all opposition parties have proposals for proportional representation on their platforms! It's become clear to me that first-past-the-post is an electoral system that belongs in the dinosaur age, and I am very excited to see electoral reform on the national stage. We are one of few modern democracies that still use first-past-the-post.... Citizens for Public Justice put out a great brief of this issue here, and I wanted to include these bits from their conclusion:

"Canada inherited its first-past-the-post electoral system from Great Britain over 200 years ago, at a time when significant sections of the Canadian population, including women, Aboriginal people, and non-property owners, were disenfranchised. Throughout the first half of the 19th century and for 50 years after Confederation, the strengths of our electoral system were evident: it fostered competition between two major parties and provided the successful party with a strong, albeit artificial, legislative majority. Territory, embodied in the direct link between the Member of Parliament and his (for they were all men) constituents, was the most important aspect of a citizen's political identity and the pre-eminent feature of prevailing notions of representation.

Canada's political, cultural, and economic reality has vastly changed; the current electoral system no longer responds to 21st century Canadian democratic values. Many Canadians desire an electoral system that better reflects the society in which they live—one that includes a broader diversity of ideas and is more representative of Canadian society. For these reasons, the Commission recommends adding an element of proportionality to our electoral system."
We need a new system.

So after writing that article (I'll keep you posted on what happens with it...) here's something else I've just seen that I'm really excited about (and with any luck, I'll be able to still include it in the article):

Voting Buddies!

A group of students at UVic are targeting specifically students and younger voters with this campaign: one student to find a voting buddy, and share it on Twitter with @votingbuddy, or submit your photo to Tumblr with #votingbuddy. Tag three other people, and grow the voting buddy movement. This is so wonderful! Voting should be fun, should be done with a sense of community, and it helps when others are involved. Love it!!

A screenshot from their website - so great! (
Now go out and vote, and take a friend!

PS. Elections Canada is still the best resource to go to for your voting information. See them here. And then, since they aren't able to promote the vote themselves, due to the legislation in the Conservative Fair Elections Act, please help them share their info by Tweeting it, if you Tweet!

No comments:

Post a Comment