Over 5,000 schools registered for Student Vote

September 16th, 2015 by CIVIX
Last week the federal campaign reached its midpoint, and CIVIX officially launched Student Vote 2015 in schools across Canada.

As of noon today, 5,735 schools are registered for Student Vote, representing all 338 electoral districts, and shattering our registration records in the previous federal election by more than 1,400 schools.

You can view all participating schools on our interactive map:

The team is working around the clock to serve these schools to the best of our ability. On Monday, we’ll have our team split between four locations across the country: in our Toronto office responding to calls and emails from teachers, at our East York warehouse preparing and mailing packages, and in both Calgary and Montreal running Democracy Bootcamp teacher training conferences.

More than 400 teachers will attend a Bootcamp on Monday, all of whom are registered Student Vote Team Leaders. They will learn about how to best bring the election to their classroom, as well as hearing directly from local candidates and pundits like Kathleen Monk, Jaime Watt, Scott Reid and Tasha Kheirridin.

In addition to distributing thousands of free resource packages to schools across the country, we are preparing Student Vote participants for their election days by simultaneously producing the most current and relevant content possible.

We are proud to have The Globe and Mail as our official content partner for this election. On Monday, we spoke with The Globe’s Jane Taber about what to expect in tomorrow’s leaders’ debate on the economy. You can watch here: 

We will have more to share with you next week and throughout the final month of the campaign,


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Democracy Bootcamp Ontario 2015

April 16th, 2015 by Dan Allan

More than 200 educators from across Ontario are set to gather in Toronto today and tomorrow for Democracy Bootcamp!

Hosted by CIVIX at the Royal Ontario Museum and the Arcadian Court, Democracy Bootcamp will cover the basics of elections, voting research and trends, and techniques and tools to educate and engage students in our democracy. The conference is intended to improve the political knowledge, interest, and instructional capacity of classroom teachers, and enhance their delivery of the Student Vote program.


Democracy Bootcamp is made possible with support from Elections Canada, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The schedule for the two-day event includes an all-party forum on federal politics hosted by Althia Raj, a pundits panel featuring Amanda Alvaro, Robin MacLachlan and Stockwell Day, and an insider’s look at election campaigns hosted by Desmond Cole and featuring Kathleen Monk, Jaime Watt and David Herle. Additional discussions will feature Vote Compass, Samara Canada, Abacus Data and Twitter Canada.

CIVIX has organized Student Vote projects in Ontario during the last four federal and four provincial elections, as well as two municipal and school board elections (including the most recent municipal and school board elections in the fall of 2014). During last year’s provincial election, more than 170,000 Student Vote ballots were cast from over 1,300 schools.

A British Columbia Democracy Bootcamp took place in Vancouver in February; photos are available here. Bootcamps in Quebec and Alberta are being planned for later this year.

The first Democracy Bootcamp for Ontario teachers was held in April 2011. Videos of the panels are available here. You can watch a video recap of the event here:

Follow us at @CIVIX_Canada and @studentvote to keep tabs on #DemocracyBootcamp.

Please contact hello@civix.ca for more information.

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Bringing the Vital Signs Report to Student Vote classrooms across Toronto

February 26th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Rahul Bhardwaj, President & CEO of the Toronto Foundation, recently met with a group of “budding city councillors” at a Toronto high school. These students were a part of a joint initiative between the Toronto Foundation and CIVIX, to bring the Toronto’s Vital Signs® Report into Student Vote classrooms across the city.

Coinciding with official election periods, students learn about government and the electoral process, debate the issues, and participate in a parallel vote on the official local candidates.

In the fall of 2014, 1,640 schools registered and 133,202 ballots were cast as part of the Student Vote program for the Ontario municipal and school board elections. Toronto’s civic elections were particularly exciting, and more than 30,000 students from across the city cast their ballots for mayor, council and school board trustee.


To increase engagement, CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation partnered to bring the Vital Signs® Report into nearly 300 Toronto schools.

One of 191 Community Foundations in Canada, the Toronto Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that connects philanthropy to community needs and opportunities across the city.

Published annually by the Toronto Foundation, the Report identifies the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in Toronto. It aims to inspire civic engagement and provide focus for public debate.

The Report and a specially developed classroom activity were distributed to registered Team Leaders in Toronto to accompany other Student Vote resources. Through the Vital Signs® Report, students learned about issues affecting their city in more detail, and encouraged discussion about how different candidates would address those questions.


One participating teacher said the Toronto Vital Signs® Report, “fostered interest in municipal politics and inspired my students to advocate for issues affecting their community” and added that it “gave us a lot of knowledge about our city and also provided an important framework within which I was able to bring up issues that were a part of municipal politics.”

Teacher Alicia Roberge and her Grade 9 geography class at Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute provided a great example of how Student Vote and the Report could work hand in hand to increase youth civic engagement.

Alicia’s students created a series of videos and presented their work to Toronto Foundation President & CEO Rahul Bhardwaj on November 27, 2014. You can watch a video recap of the visit here.


“CIVIX was delighted to work with the Toronto Foundation last fall and have the opportunity to provide interesting research and statistics to participating schools in Toronto. We know it fostered great dialogue in classrooms about important issues facing our city. It was a valuable experience for all involved,” says Taylor Gunn, President and CEO of CIVIX Canada.

Overall, the partnership between CIVIX and the Toronto Foundation was successful in providing students with a greater understanding of the issues at hand in the municipal election. We look forward to working together again during the next Toronto election!

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Legislatures set to return for the fall session

August 28th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Over the next few months, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons will return for their respective fall sessions. Here’s our recap of the dates when each legislature is expected to resume:

One legislature has not yet set a date for their fall return:

Stay tuned for the latest news!

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International Election Digest

August 14th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Turkey, Sweden and Fiji are in the midst of elections! Here’s our breakdown of the latest news.


Turkey hosted their presidential election on August 10. After the first round of voting, current Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (representing the Justice and Development Party) won the election with 51.9 per cent of the vote. Opposition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu secured 38.3 per cent of the vote.  There will not be a run-off due to the “huge margin” of victory.

During this election campaign, Erdogan said that if elected he will amend the constitution to transform the ceremonial post of president into a “US-style executive powerhouse.” Ihsanoglu expressed no interest in supporting an executive-style presidential system.

During the last presidential election in 2007, Abdullah Gül was indirectly elected as the president by the members of the Grand National Assembly. Constitutional amendments were made to allow the president to be elected directly to serve a five-year term.


The Swedish general election will take place on September 14, 2014. As per the constitution, the election must take place every four years in September to allocate the 349 seats in the Riksdag (Sweden’s parliament). At the same time, elections will also be held for municipal assemblies and county councils. The Swedish electoral system uses proportional representation.

The last Swedish general election was held on September 19, 2010. After the official ballot count, the center-right “Alliance” – comprised of the Moderate Party, Centre Party, Liberal Party and Christian Democrats – secured 172 seats in parliament and won a second term. The “Red-Greens” – comprised of Social Democrats, the Left Party, and the Green Party – secured 157 seats in the parliament. Voter turnout was at 84.6 per cent and over 6 million voters participated in the election.

Presently, there are ten political parties participating in the fall election. According to opinion polls, the Social Democrats are leading with 30.8 per cent of voter support.


Fiji will host its first general election since the 2006 military coup on September 17, 2014. The election writ was recently drawn up by acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, confirming the election date.

Prior to the adoption of a new constitution in 2013, Fiji had a bicameral parliament comprised of a Senate and the House of Representatives. Fiji now has a parliamentary system comprised of 50 seats, with each member serving for a five-year term. Members of parliament will be elected by a “multi-member open list system” of proportional representation.

On March 5, 2014, Rear Admiral and interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama successfully handed over the Fiji military command to Commander Brigadier Mosese Tikoitoga and announced his plan to run in the election as a candidate. Later in April, Bainimarama announced Dr. Jiko Luveni as the first candidate to join his Fiji First Party (FFP). There are currently five political parties participating in this election.

To ensure a free and fair election, Fiji will set up a task force to monitor the way media outlets report on the campaign.

Stay tuned for more international election news and coverage!

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Leadership Race Update

August 7th, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Over the next few months, ten political organizations from across Canada will elect new leaders. Here is our breakdown of the latest news surrounding these leadership races.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador leadership race began when Kathy Dunderdale announced her resignation as the premier and party leader on January 22, 2014. On January 24, 2014, Tom Marshall was sworn in as interim party leader and the province’s 11th premier.

Nominations for the position of party leader closed on July 7, 2014 and Paul Davis, Steve Kent and John Ottenheimer were announced as leadership candidates. The election will take place during the PC leadership convention on September 13, 2014.

Prince Edward Island

Olive Crane stepped down as the leader of PEI PC Party on January 31, 2013. On the same day, Steven Myers was appointed as the party’s interim leader. The PEI PC leadership convention was to be held this fall, but the convention date is being reconsidered now that the next provincial election will be held in 2016.

Nova Scotia

Darrell Dexter stepped down as the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP on November 23, 2013 and Maureen MacDonald was appointed as the party’s interim leader. The leadership election date is yet to be decided. Both Maureen Macdonald and Peter Stoffer have declined to run for the leadership position.


The Parti Québécois leadership race began with Pauline Marois stepping down as PQ leader after her election defeat on April 7, 2014. The PQ caucus chose Stéphane Bédard as the interim party leader. The leadership election date is yet to be decided and the campaigning isn’t expected to start before this fall. Prospective candidates include MNAs Pierre Karl Péladeau, Bernard Drainville and Jean-François Lisée.


Tim Hudak stepped down as the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party on July 2, 2014. Following his resignation, the PC caucus elected Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson as the interim leader. Although no date has been decided for the leadership election, preparations have begun to seek a new leader. So far, Whitby-Oshawa MPP Christine Elliot has declared her candidacy and other possible candidates include MPPs Lisa MacLeod, Vic Fedeli and Monte McNaughton.


James Beddome resigned as the leader of the Green Party of Manitoba on November 16, 2013 and Alain Landry was appointed as the interim leader. The date for the leadership election has not yet been decided.


The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) leadership race began when Alison Redford announced her resignation as the party leader and premier of Alberta on March 19, 2014. On March 20, 2014, caucus members elected Dave Hancock as interim leader and premier.

On June 2, 2014, the PCAA introduced Jim Prentice, Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk as official leadership candidates. The leadership vote will be held on September 6, 2014 in a “two-round” voting system. If no candidate wins a clear majority, the two leading candidates will move to the second round of voting on September 20, 2014.

Alberta’s New Democratic Party leadership race began after Brian Mason announced his resignation as the party leader on April 29, 2014. The leadership election date is set for October 18 and 19, 2014. So far, Edmonton-Calder MLA David Eggen, Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley and former candidate Rod Loyola have declared their candidacy.

British Columbia

The Green Party of BC is still in the process of electing a new party leader.  Jane Sterk stepped down as the party leader on August 13, 2013 and Adam Olsen was appointed as the interim leader. No date has been finalized yet to formally elect the next party leader.

Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

Shawn Atleo resigned as the chief of Assembly of First Nations on May 2, 2014. During the 35th Annual AFN Conference in Halifax, native leaders voted to elect a new leader. Grand Chief David Harper of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak said “any of the candidates to replace Mr. Atleo will have to campaign on promises of reform.” The leadership vote will take place in Winnipeg this December.

Which leadership race are you most looking forward to?

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11 Things to Know about the 2014 Indian Election

April 22nd, 2014 by Abhi Saini

Over the course of next month, Indian voters will elect 543 members of the 16th Lok Sabha, the lower House of Parliament. Here are eleven key things you need to know about the 2014 Indian general election and the Indian political system:

  1. As many as 814 million eligible could cast their ballots in this year’s election. The last general election in India took place in 2009 with 713 million eligible voters. Due to the large number of voters, the election will be conducted in nine phases spread across five weeks. The election commenced on April 7th and will conclude on May 12th. The final results will be announced on May 16th.
  2. According to the Election Commission of India, 930,000 polling stations have been set up across the country to execute the electoral process. Polling stations have been equipped with 1.7 million EVMs (electronic voting machines).
  3. India’s government is structured as a federal system and is constituted as a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic. Like Canada, the country’s government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Also similar to Canada, India uses the First-Past-The-Post electoral system where the candidate with the most votes wins.
  4. India has a bicameral legislature which is based upon the British Westminster system. There is an upper house (Rajya Sabha, or the Council of States) and a lower house (Lok Sabha, or the House of the People).
  5. The Lok Sabha is comprised of 545 seats, out of which 543 seats are directly elected and 2 are appointed by the country’s president. According to constitutional requirement, Lok Sabha elections must take place every five years.
  6. The executive leader – the prime minister – is appointed by the lower house. The party holding a majority in the lower house elects its leader as the prime minister. If no party holds a majority of seats, parties forms coalitions until they acquire the required number of seats to elect a prime minister.
  7. India has a multiparty system. There are two are major national parties and an additional 50 state or regional parties. According to the Association of Democratic Reforms, there are a total of 1,600 political parties in India. The majority of such parties register with the Election Commission of India but never participate in any election.
  8. Party coalition plays an important role in Indian politics and legislative policies. No political party has won a majority since 1989 and support from other parties is required to form a working government. The United Progressive Alliance coalition (UPA), led by the Indian National Congress, along with the opposition Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has been in power for past 10 years.
  9. This year’s election will primarily be contested by three major political parties: the centre-left Indian National Congress party led by Rahul Gandhi, the right wing Bhartiya Janata Party led by Narendra Modi and the centre-left Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal.
  10. Nepotism and criminality continue to undermine credibility of the candidates in the upcoming election. According to research, “nearly 30 per cent of current members of parliament are from political families; for parliamentary members younger than 40, the figure rises to two-thirds.” Furthermore, according to a recently published research, almost a “fifth of candidates in India’s upcoming elections are facing criminal charges.”
  11. Indian youth will play a key role in this year’s election. It is estimated that 150 million Indian youth between the ages of 18 to 23 years will cast their vote for the first time. 

It will be interesting to see how the election unfolds and if any of the major political parties will manage to secure a majority or once again rely on regional support to form a coalition.

You can also read Abhi’s blog on Republic Day of India and the Indian electoral system.

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New Staff Profile: Vicky Mochama

April 16th, 2014 by CIVIX

Hi, my name is Vicky Mochama. I am joining CIVIX as a Campaign Communications Assistant. I will be supporting communications for various Student Vote projects.

It was actually thanks to a civics teacher in my high school that I got involved in politics. I was invited to join the Model United Nations team in tenth grade and I loved everything about it from researching to making speeches to negotiating. Because of that experience, I believe that regardless of how old you are, everyone can have an opinion on political issues and has a right to have their opinions heard.

Vicky Mochame

At Carleton University, I studied communications and political science which let me combine my passion for politics with my love of popular culture. More than just watching MTV and writing about it (yes, yes, I did), I was also very involved on campus. I joined the Carleton Model UN Society – first as a delegate and then as president – and also helped organize Relay for Life.

In my spare time, I volunteer at the Revue Cinema in Roncesvalles as a volunteer coordinator. I like reading, watching movies and playing board games. I’m a sore winner at Scrabble and a delighted loser at Twister.

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Canadian legislatures head back to work

January 22nd, 2014 by Abhi Saini

*Updated on March 24, 2014

Most provincial and territorial legislatures, as well as the House of Commons, will head back to work over the next few weeks.

Here’s our breakdown of the dates each legislature is expected to return:

Experiencing a legislature in action can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Check out the website for your local legislative assembly to find out how to visit or schedule a tour.

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Prince Edward Island: “A beacon of engagement”

November 12th, 2013 by Dan Allan

The Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island reconvenes at Province House today to open the 4th Session of the 64th General Assembly.

PEI has been described as “a beacon of engagement” as “voting is a must for most in the province, not an afterthought.”

Voter turnout during the 2011 PEI provincial election was the “lowest in decades” (76.5 per cent of Islanders voted, compared to 83.8% in 2007), but PEI still consistently has the highest turnout in Canada, at both the provincial and federal level. Federal turnout in 2011 was only 61.1 per cent.

Troy Media columnist Andy Walker wrote last week about the great democratic tradition in PEI:

Tucked between Remembrance Day and Christmas is a highlight of the year for many Islanders – the fall sitting of the provincial legislature.

I have been told there are provinces where the visitor’s gallery at the legislature is virtually empty most of the time and where most people don’t know who their elected representative is. PEI is on the other end of the spectrum.

The visitor’s gallery is usually full and the first 10 to 15 minutes is usually taken up by MLA’s welcoming their constituents. Many Islanders go to the building where the Fathers of Confederation met 149 years ago each sitting day to watch the proceedings. Hundreds more watch on the local cable channel.

The best way to ensure electoral success is PEI is to be “a good constituency person.” Islanders expected their MLA to be at weddings, funerals, anniversaries and birthdays. Every high school graduate gets a letter from the premier. It is not uncommon for an elected politician to help a constituent fill in a job application or apply for a passport – especially if they are a senior and the application involves a computer.

This trend may not be as prevalent as it once was, but it is still too strong to ignore for any politician or would be politician. Watching their elected representatives in action is just a logical extension of that mentality.

The session that begins November 12 should prove to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. 

We’re proud to work with many great educators in Prince Edward Island. Nearly 5,000 PEI students took part in our 2011 provincial Student Vote program, and more than 6,500 PEI students cast ballots during the 2011 federal Student Vote program.

Are you following your MLA on Twitter? Check out our list

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