Student Vote Day in Saskatchewan

March 23rd, 2016 by Dan Allan

On March 23 and 24, Saskatchewan elementary and high school students will cast ballots for the official candidates running in the 2016 provincial election.

The Student Vote program provides students with the opportunity to cast ballots for the official candidates after learning about the democratic process, researching candidates and party platforms and debating the future of Saskatchewan.

As many as 20,000 elementary and secondary students are expected to participate from more than 330 schools representing all 61 provincial constituencies. You can view all participating schools on our interactive map.

In addition to election materials, a wide variety of online tools has been made available to participating schools. The Student Vote Saskatchewan website includes an online resource library with lesson plans, handouts and worksheets, as well as other educational tools like videos and PowerPoints.

Students were invited to submit questions to the party leaders and submissions were shared with all provincial political parties. The questions focused on election issues like the economy, energy, health care and education and responses were received from Brad Wall (Saskatchewan Party), Cam Broten (NDP), Victor Lau (Green) and Darrin Lamoureux (Liberal). The questions and answers can all be viewed here.

CIVIX has partnered with Elections Saskatchewan to provide the Student Vote program to elementary and secondary schools across the province for the 2016 provincial election.

This will be the sixth Student Vote program conducted in Saskatchewan. During the 2011 provincial Student Vote, more than 20,000 students cast ballots from 285 schools.

Like the results of the official election, students elected a Saskatchewan Party majority government with an NDP opposition. The complete results are available here.

The 2016 Student Vote Saskatchewan results will be released at the close of polls on Monday, April 4 (8:00 p.m. CST).

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Democracy Bootcamp BC 2016

February 25th, 2016 by CIVIX

More than 100 teachers from across British Columbia will gather in Vancouver today and tomorrow for Democracy Bootcamp BC 2016!

Democracy Bootcamp is a professional development conference for elementary and secondary teachers, designed to improve their own democratic engagement, strengthen their commitment to civic education and enhance their delivery of the Student Vote program.

The very first Democracy Bootcamp in BC was held exactly a year ago to prepare teachers for the 2015 federal election. Analysis of participation statistics demonstrates that Democracy Bootcamp produced committed and enthusiastic teachers that were more likely to register for Student Vote, involve more colleagues at their school, and engage more than 50 per cent more students compared to non-Bootcamp teachers.

Illustrating extraordinary growth and scope, the story of Student Vote participation in British Columbia was one of the highlights of the 2015 federal election. In total, 179,202 students from nearly 1,100 schools across the province cast a Student Vote ballot for their local candidates.

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Hosted by CIVIX at SFU at the Harbour Centre and the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Democracy Bootcamp BC will facilitate discussions among educators about the successes, challenges and best practices from the recent Student Vote campaign, and conversations about how the program can be improved in advance of the 2017 provincial election.

The schedule for the two-day conference is filled with insightful speakers and special guests. Tonight, teachers will hear from Dave Meslin and Max Cameron on electoral reform and the future of Canada’s democracy.

Friday morning will kick-off with an experienced panel of political strategists offering their analysis on the recent federal election. The panel includes Stockwell Day, Kathleen Monk and Jaime Watt and will be moderated by The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason.

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After lunch, a panel of provincial pundits featuring Keith Baldrey of Global TV, Justine Hunter of The Globe and Mail and Vaughan Palmer of the Vancouver Sun will share their thoughts on the provincial political landscape and expectations in the year leading up to the next election.

Democracy Bootcamp BC 2016 is made possible with the generous support of Elections BC, Elections Canada, British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and Vancity.

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Elections SK and CIVIX launch the Student Vote program in Saskatchewan

February 24th, 2016 by CIVIX

Students throughout Saskatchewan will have the opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and practice the habits of informed and engaged citizenship.

Student Vote is a parallel election for elementary and high schools coinciding with official elections. Students will learn about government and the electoral process, engage in the campaign and cast ballots for the official local candidates.

Elections Saskatchewan and CIVIX are partnering to coordinate the Student Vote program for the April 4 provincial election. The program kicked off today during a media event at Miller Comprehensive High School in Regina with Grade 11 and 12 students along with Elections Saskatchewan and CIVIX.

“As we prepare for the 28th General Election the Student Vote program is a great opportunity to engage these future voters,” says Dr.Michael Boda, Chief Electoral Officer of Saskatchewan. “Students are the next generation of voters, and increasing their interest in democracy and elections is important.”

“We encourage all teachers to get involved in Student Vote Saskatchewan and join over 250 schools across the province. It is a privilege to receive the support of Elections Saskatchewan, and our team looks forward to helping teachers make the best learning experience out of this election,” said Taylor Gunn, President and Chief Election Officer of CIVIX.

Schools can register for this free program up until March 14, by signing up at www.studentvote.ca/sk2016 or by calling 1-866-488-8775. Registered schools will receive activity guides, posters, constituency maps, ballots and ballot boxes.

In addition to young students participating in Student Vote, they are also invited to witness democracy in action by attending the voting places during advance voting and election day. When they arrive with their parents, grandparents or other eligible voters, each child will receive a “Future Voter” sticker.

Elections Saskatchewan is the province’s independent, impartial, professional election management body. Given a mandate from the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly, it organizes, manages and oversees provincial electoral events, including the April 4, 2016general election. Information for voters, workers, media, candidates and parties at www.elections.sk.ca.

CIVIX is a non-partisan, national registered charity with a mission to build the skills and habits of citizenship among young Canadians. CIVIX organizes experiential learning opportunities to help young Canadians practice their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Since 2003, CIVIX has coordinated 29 Student Vote programs across Canada. In the recent federal election, 922,000 students cast a ballot from 6,662 schools.

For more information contact:

Taylor Gunn
President and Chief Election Officer
CIVIX Canada
taylor@civix.ca
1-866-488-8775
Tim Kydd 
Senior Director, Communications & Outreach
Elections Saskatchewan 
tim.kydd@elections.sk.ca
(306) 787-7355

Posted in English, Student Vote | Leave Comments »

Register for Student Vote Manitoba!

February 9th, 2016 by Dan Allan

The 41st Manitoba general election is scheduled to take place on April 19th, 2016.

CIVIX is pleased to offer the Student Vote program to elementary and high schools across the province with support from the Government of Canada, The Winnipeg Foundation and Elections Manitoba.

Student Vote provides students an opportunity to learn about the workings of government and our electoral system, research the parties and candidates, and experience the voting process firsthand.

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The Student Vote program provides an excellent way to educate students about their rights and responsibilities and provides a teachable moment to discuss important issues and the future of Manitoba.

Student Vote is free and materials are offered in English and French. You can register now at: http://www.studentvote.ca/registration/ or by calling us at 1-866-488-8775.

All registered schools will receive educational resources, campaign posters, ballots and ballot boxes, voting screens, ballots and an election manual, and access to online tools, such as videos and slide decks.

This will be the sixth Student Vote conducted in Manitoba since 2004. In the recent federal election, 34,579 Manitoba students cast ballots from 337 schools. You can see the results for Manitoba ridings here.

In the Brandon Sun, École secondaire Neelin High School teacher Kerri Malazdrewicz says “I think it’s really important so that the kids actually understand what they will have to go through when they actually do vote for their first time. My Grade 9s have just taken it and run with it… They were so excited to cast their ballot and do their due diligence.”

Join hundreds of schools across the province for the upcoming Manitoba provincial election! 

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Celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage

January 28th, 2016 by CIVIX

A hundred years ago today, women were officially allowed to vote in a Canadian election. Suffrage (the right to vote) was extended to Manitoba women, allowing them to cast a ballot in their next provincial election. Most other provinces quickly followed suit, and by 1918 women were allowed to vote federally. Now women make up a larger percentage of the Canadian electorate than men!

The path to women’s suffrage was a long and arduous one. Although instances of women voting in Upper and Lower Canada in the early 19th century are documented, they were rare exceptions. Formal complaints were lodged against them and the provinces enacted laws to prohibit women from voting. Canada’s Constitutional Act, 1867 entrenched the right of provincial governments to decide which of their citizens could vote federally and women were effectively excluded.

Beginning in the 1870s, women campaigned for change with petitions, speeches and public protests. The women’s suffrage movement grew and chapters were formed in every province. The only exception was Quebec, whose conservative culture forced women to take up other issues, such as the right to equal education. Without much support from politicians and the general public, women introduced bills in provincial legislatures that would grant them the right to vote. If their bill was defeated, it was reintroduced again and again until it was passed.

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The early 1900s were changing times for Canadian women. The First World War saw them excel at jobs generally reserved for men. Transportation and modes of communication became more accessible and women could gather information, advertise their message and travel to meetings in different cities much more easily. The suffragettes – as these women came to be nicknamed – used creative ways to gain followers and supporters.

For instance, in January 1914, a play sponsored by the Manitoba Political Equality League was performed in which women adopted the roles of legislators who were listening to men demanding the right to vote. Nellie McClung, one of the more famous suffragettes, played the role of the provincial premier and rejected the idea. “Man is made for something higher and better than voting. Men were made to support families. What is a home without a bank account!” she declared. McClung, who was said to have met several times with Manitoba Premier Rodmond Roblin to discuss the women’s vote, imitated him so well that the audience burst into laughter.

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Manitoba became the first province to approve women’s suffrage on January 28, 1916, closely followed by Saskatchewan on March 14 and Alberta on April 19. British Columbia extended women the right to vote on April 5, 1917, and Ontario Suffragettes celebrated their victory one week later on April 12. These important provincial decisions mounted pressure on the federal government to do the same.

On May 24, 1918, women aged 21 and older were granted the right to vote in federal elections, and in July 1919 they were allowed to run for public office. It was not until 1929, with the help of the “Famous Five” – a group including Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise Crummy McKinney and Irene Parlby – that women were declared “persons” in a Supreme Court case, and could be appointed to the Senate.

Suffragettes paved the way for a more inclusive future, but to many women in Canada even the 1929 decision was not cause for celebration. Members of several ethnic and racial minority groups, such as Canadians of Chinese and Japanese origin, were excluded for several decades after women achieved the right to vote. Aboriginal peoples had to wait until 1960 to be able to cast their first ballot. It is important to remember the legacy of the suffragettes on this day, but also to recognize that it took quite a while longer for the title of “persons” to apply equally to all citizens of Canada.

Adelina

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Register now for Student Vote Saskatchewan!

January 25th, 2016 by Dan Allan

The 28th Saskatchewan general election is scheduled to take place on April 4th, 2016.

CIVIX is pleased to collaborate with Elections Saskatchewan to deliver the Student Vote program to elementary and high schools across the province.

Student Vote provides students a chance to learn about the workings of government, debate important issues concerning the province and their community, engage with the candidates and experience the voting process firsthand.

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“For many students, this program is their first introduction to our electoral process. Introducing these topics to your students in the classroom environment, and at this young age, helps build habits of informed and engaged citizens. Your students are the next generation of voters, and increasing their interest in democracy and elections is important to us,” says Dr. Michael Boda, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Province of Saskatchewan.

The Student Vote program is free and materials are offered in English and French. You can register now at: http://www.studentvote.ca/registration/ or by calling us at 1-866-488-8775.

All registered schools will receive activity resources, campaign posters, ballot boxes, voting screens, ballots and an election manual, and access to online tools, such as videos and slide decks.

This will be the sixth Student Vote conducted in Saskatchewan. During the recent federal election, more than 33,000 students cast ballots from 385 schools in Saskatchewan. You can see the results for Saskatchewan ridings here.

In the Prince Albert Daily Herald, Prince Albert Collegiate Institute teacher Greg Walker says “[Student Vote] uses actual ballot boxes and the ballots that the students are using look very similar to the ones that you would use in an actual poll… so when the students actually go through the process they’re getting the experience of what it would be like to actually vote, which then should make it less intimidating for them when they turn 18 to go through the process.”

We hope that you will join us for the upcoming Saskatchewan provincial election! 

The CIVIX Team

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“How to bring discussion about financial issues into the classroom”

January 11th, 2016 by Dan Allan

Last October, the CIVIX team welcomed representatives from the World Bank and the Russian Ministry of Finance.

The 16-member delegation was interested in learning more about financial literacy initiatives for students, as well as our Student Budget Consultation program.

We were also joined by students, and their teachers, from Sandalwood Heights Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario. The students took part in the 2015 Student Budget Consultation (and the 2015 Student Vote), and shared their experiences — including a trip to Ottawa to meet with representatives from the federal Department of Finance.

Ivor Beazley, the Task Team Leader for Budget Literacy Project in Russia, wrote about the presentation on the World Bank’s blog:

The 2008 financial crisis was a “wake up” call to many teachers in the United States and Canada. As families lost their homes and parents lost jobs, they began to appreciate the importance of kids leaving school with some knowledge of the world of finance – especially about how personal decisions are made about finance and how financial decisions taken by government directly affect their lives and future prospects. 

A study group from Moscow and five regions of Russia recently visited Canada and the US to learn more about initiatives in those two countries and to bring discussion about financial issues into the classroom – with the idea of turning today’s students into active and responsible citizens of the future, able to make well-informed personal financial decisions and to engage in discussions about public finances on behalf of themselves and their communities.

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Canada’s “Student Budget Consultation” program is an inspiring example of how to get students engaged and motivated. Each year, students get to debate real budget issues, in real time, and to hear from the real decision makers about the hard choices that have to be made. Students get to look at the facts, hear opinions from politicians, business leaders and other interest groups, debate budget priorities with fellow students, and then express their own views using a survey tool.

The results are then collected from schools across the country and consolidated to express the collective views of students on spending priorities. A small group of students then presents the Student Budget Consultation results on behalf of all the participating schools to the Minister of Finance in Ottawa.

Students told the group that being part of Student Budget Consultation was their first exposure to the topic of budgeting. Having political leaders speak directly to them in their classrooms (via video recordings), and having the opportunity to deal with real life issues, had quite an impact on their thinking, sparking their interest in finance and public affairs and, in some cases, changing the direction of their future studies and career choices.

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Despite a certain fear factor, there was no shortage of teachers willing to get involved and consequently the program has expanded rapidly, with support from governments and non-profit organizations dedicated to civic education and economic education such as CIVIX Canada.

The study group heard some common lessons of experience. First, how helpful it was to involve teachers in the design, testing and evaluation of course materials. Second, how important it is to tie these lessons into the regular student curriculum. Finally, the design of the course needs careful thought about how to engage students’ interest. Introducing the topic of the public budget was easier once students had thought about their personal or family finances.

Real life scenarios, involving real people and events were much more engaging than dreamt-up case studies. And, interactive learning through debate, role plays, and use of technology draws students in. All of this provided much food for thought as Russia pursues its own initiative to promote Budget Literacy in schools.

You can read the original post in its entirety here.

Previously, our team has visited Moscow, Russia and Warsaw, Poland to speak about the Student Budget Consultation.

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Weekly Round-Up: December 11, 2015

December 11th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

MPs back to work

After last week’s Speech from the Throne (which you can watch here), Members of Parliament were back at it on Monday with the return of question period. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet fielded questions on subjects that included Canada’s military missions in the Middle East, the national debt and income taxes.

The current format for question period could soon change as the Liberals plan to introduce a “prime minister’s question period” similar to what is currently seen in the British Parliament. The British prime minister responds to questions each Wednesday from a randomly selected group of MPs. Éric Grenier examined some of the pros and cons of this potential shift.

Electoral reform update

The government has also committed to another change: that the 2015 federal election would be the last to use the First-Past-the-Post electoral system. Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose is demanding the government hold a referendum on any proposed changes, but the Liberals will only commit to a “broad, cross-party consultation process”. Maclean’s and the Globe and Mail also support a public vote on the matter.

Electoral reform is also on the agenda in Prince Edward Island. After six months of public education and consultation, a plebiscite will be held in November 2016 to reconsider the use of First-Past-the-Post for future provincial elections. A similar proposal was rejected by voters in 2005.

Bélanger to serve as honourary speaker

Veteran Ottawa Liberal MP Mauril Bélanger intended to run for the Speaker’s chair but dropped out after he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

On Wednesday, a motion to make Bélanger an honorary occupant of the Speaker’s chair for a day was met with unanimous consent and a “thunderous standing ovation”.

Leadership race rundown

The Conservative Party is “in no rush to select new leader”, according to the Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert. Possible contenders for the yet to be scheduled race include Brad Wall, Jason Kenney and Lisa Raitt.

Will the NDP have a new leader for the next federal election? Tom Mulcair wants to stay on as leader, according to Postmedia’s John Ivison, but “anything short of 75 per cent” at his party’s mandatory leadership review in April could put that in jeopardy.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Weekly Round-Up: December 4, 2015

December 4th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Each Friday, CIVIX provides a digest of the major events in Canadian politics.

Parliament returns

Canada’s 42nd Parliament is now underway! The first order of business was the election of the new House of Commons Speaker, and Halifax West MP Geoff Regan was chosen by his peers. MPs Yasmin Ratansi, Denis Paradis and Bruce Stanton were also in contention for the Speaker’s chair.

For the first time in decades, MPs voted for their new speaker using a single ranked preferential ballot. In the past, a run-off system was used that often saw multiple rounds of voting. In other news from Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed 35 parliamentary secretaries and Former Conservative Senator Jacques Demers will now sit as an independent.

The Speech from the Throne

The new Speaker’s first job will be to preside over this afternoon’s Throne Speech. The speech, to be delivered by Governor General David Johnston, will outline Trudeau’s agenda for the current parliamentary session.

The speech is expected to focus on the immediate priorities of the new government. The speech is expected to be “low-key” and one of the shortest in Canadian history. You can watch the speech online here.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s new premier

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party, led by Dwight Ball, won a “landslide victory” on Monday by winning 31 of 40 seats in the House of Assembly. The Progressive Conservatives, led by outgoing-premier Paul Davis will form the opposition with 7 seats. The NDP finished in third with two seats. Voter turnout was a “record-low” 55.2 per cent.

In the Student Vote, students across NL took on the roles of election officials and cast ballots for the candidates running in their local electoral district. Like the adults, students elected a Liberal majority government. In total, 4,047 ballots were reported from 42 schools, representing 28 out of 40 electoral districts. You can view the results here. You can read more coverage of the results in The Telegram.

Democratic reform update

The results of a new poll from Abacus Data and commissioned by the Broadbent Institute suggests that most Canadians believe the federal electoral system needs to be changed. The Liberals promised during the recent federal election campaign that the 2015 election would be the last contested using the First-Past-the-Post system.

And on Thursday, the federal government announced changes to how Senators will be named to the Red Chamber. An arm’s-length advisory board will be created to consult widely and recommend to the prime minister a short list of five merit-based nominees to fill each vacancy. Five vacancies will be filled in January, and another 17 by the end of next year.

For ongoing updates, follow us on Twitter at @CIVIX_Canada.

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Premier McNeil visits St. Joseph’s – A. McKay Elementary

December 1st, 2015 by Dan Allan

Students at St. Joseph’s – A. McKay Elementary in Halifax had a special visitor on Wednesday, November 25: Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

Grade 6 teacher Paulette O’Connor explains:

One of my students, who became interested in politics as a result of the federal Student Vote, sent the premier a letter and invited him to come to speak to us. His office called to confirm that he was coming and the students prepared questions they wanted to ask him.

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The visit went great with the premier. He was here for an hour and it was all Q and A. The kids were amazing and even tried to teach him the Whip Nae Nae!

There were many great questions, including:

  • How does the government work in Nova Scotia?
  • How do laws get passed?
  • Will you lower gas prices to give us a break?
  • Is it easier to pass laws with a majority or minority government?
  • How will you keep young people from leaving Nova Scotia when there are few jobs?

One girl even asked how she could get into politics. The premier loved the question about the pros and cons about having a majority government.

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Overall, it was a fantastic event that came out of our engagement in Student Vote. The program is a wonderful opportunity to get an inner-city community involved in politics.

We would like to thank Premier McNeil and the students and staff at St. Joseph’s – A. McKay Elementary for facilitating the event and sharing the details with us.

The class also took part in our federal Student Vote program and asked the party leaders a question on refugees: 

The CIVIX Team

Posted in English, Student Vote | Leave Comments »

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