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

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Weekly Round-Up: November 27, 2015

November 27th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

NL election countdown

The Newfoundland and Labrador provincial election is just a few days away! All polls point to a sizable win for Liberal leader Dwight Ball over PC leader Paul Davis, but there is some debate over just how big that lead really is. A CRA poll shows the Liberals “poised to sweep” the province, Forum has the Tories “closing the gap” and the latest numbers from Abacus Data show a “commanding Liberal lead”. We’ll only know for sure when polls close on Monday night.

Students from across the province will also take part in the election through our Student Vote program. We expect that more than 5,000 elementary and secondary students from as many as 48 schools to participate from 31 of the province’s electoral districts. You can view all participating schools on our interactive map. All three leaders also took part in our video Q&A

NWT election recap

The Northwest Territories went to the polls on Monday and the electorate “delivered a blunt demand for change” as eight sitting MLAs lost their seats. The unofficial results are available here. Voter turnout was 43.6 per cent. The newly elected MLAs will meet on December 17 to select the speaker, premier and cabinet.

In the Student Vote, students across the NWT took on the roles of election officials and cast ballots for the election candidates running in the 2015 territorial election. In total, 389 votes were cast from 11 schools representing 13 electoral districts. You can view the results here.

Trudeau meets the Queen

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday as part of his first full bilateral trip. Trudeau later met with British PM David Cameron.

Trudeau will also attend the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Malta starting today, and will attend the first day of the Paris climate summit next week.

Remembering Manmeet Bhullar

Calgary-Greenway MLA Manmeet Bhullar died in an accident Monday when he stopped to help another motorist. Tributes for Bhullar poured in from premiers past and present, as well as other MLAs and politicians and members of the public from across Canada. You can share your condolences with the Bhullar family here.

Question period on Wednesday was dedicated to Bhullar and every question was one he would have asked on the issues he was most passionate about. The day was described as “terribly sad, but beautiful too”, and “one of the legislature’s greatest days”. A state memorial service will be held Sunday in Calgary.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: November 20, 2015

November 20th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Trudeau’s debut on the world stage

Just more than a month removed from the federal election, newly sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spent the past week on a “globe-spanning trip” that has taken him from the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey to the APEC summit in Manila, Philippines.

Among the many notable world leaders in attendance, Trudeau’s meeting with US President Barack Obama was perhaps the most notable during the tour. The two leaders discussed trade, terrorism, the economy, energy, climate and refugees on Thursday – as well as tips for keeping ones hair from going grey.

NWT voters head to the polls on Monday

The Northwest Territories heads to the polls on Monday for their territorial general election. Consensus government is used in the NWT (and Nunavut), and the premier, cabinet and speaker are chosen by elected MLAs shortly after the election. The Elections NWT has a handy Polling Station Locator, if you’re not sure of where to vote.

Elementary and secondary students from across the province will also be casting ballots, as part of the Student Vote NWT program. If you’re looking to learn more about the candidates, we asked each to reply to two student-focused questions through video or a written response. You can view all of the submissions here.

Nominations close in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is in the midst of their own provincial election campaign. Candidate nominations close today, and election day is set for November 30. The Progressive Conservatives, led by current Premier Paul Davis, may not be able to field a full slate of candidates and currently trail in the latest Abacus Data polling.

The NTV leaders’ debate took place earlier this week (you can watch a replay here), and the final debate of the campaign is set for Monday. Voter information cards should be arriving in mailboxes across the province, but if you’re not sure where, when or how to vote you can visit the Elections NL website. We will also be running a Student Vote program for schools.

Conservative leadership update

Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose has named Denis Lebel to serve as deputy leader of the Conservative caucus, and former-speaker Andrew Scheer to take over as the party’s House leader. The party’s official leadership race is not yet underway, but there are rumblings that MPs Maxime Bernier and Michael Chong could be considering bids.

The Conservatives lost a member on Wednesday, however, when New Brunswick Senator John Wallace quit to sit an independent, citing “irreconcilable differences” with the party. There are currently seven other independent senators in the upper chamber.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: November 13, 2015

November 13th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Canada’s new prime minister

We were unable to post the ‘Weekly Round-Up’ last week, so had to wait to share that Justin Trudeau was officially sworn in as Canada’s twenty-third prime minister by Governor General David Johnston, along with the members of his cabinet.

Who made it to cabinet? You can read a full list here. There is regional balance and, because its 2015, it is evenly made up of men and women. You can see all 31 cabinet members in action when the House of Commons returns on December 3 with a speech from the throne.

The (interim) leader of the Opposition

The first Question Period of the 42nd parliament will be led by Rona Ambrose, the Conservative’s party interim leader and interim leader of the Opposition. Ambrose was chosen for the job last week.

In British Columbia, John Horgan will stay on as provincial NDP leader for the next election, scheduled for 2017. Horgan received 95 per cent support at the party’s convention as part of a mandatory leadership review.

Quebec by-elections

Four provincial by-elections were held in Quebec on Monday, and the Liberals won three of them. The Liberals won in Fabre, Beauce-Sud and St-Henri–Ste-Anne, while the Parti Quebecois took René-Lévesque in the Saguenay region.

Voter turnout was low for all four by-elections, ranging from a low of 22 per cent (in Fabre) to a high of 43 per cent (in Beauce-Sud). Full results and statistics are available on the Elections Quebec website.

Provincial/territorial election update

Did you know that the Northwest Territories and Newfoundland and Labrador are in the midst of their own elections? The NWT heads to the polls on November 23 and NL voters cast ballots on November 30.

Polls in Newfoundland and Labrador suggest a Liberal “landslide” win, with Dwight Ball’s party poised to take about 66 per cent of support. This puts them well ahead of the Progressive Conservatives, led by current-premier Paul Davis, who are currently polling at 19 per cent.

With just more than a week remaining until election day in the NWT, one seat has already been determined! Jackson Lafferty was acclaimed in the Monfwi electoral district as he was unopposed. A full list of candidates is available here.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 30, 2015

October 30th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Government transition continues

Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has announced that the House of Commons will reconvene in December. The specific date has not yet been set, but a speech from the throne will be read to lay out the new government’s agenda. Trudeau’s will be sworn-in and announce his cabinet next week.

The old PM has to resign before the new one take over, and Stephen Harper will formally step down on November 4. The Harper family is moving back to Calgary, while the Trudeaus are set to move into Rideau Cottage (rather than 24 Sussex). Harper plans to stay on as the MP for Calgary Heritage (and may also have an airport named after him).

Judicial recounts underway

The federal election is over but there’s still a chance that some ridings could change hands. Recounts are underway in four ridings: Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte (108 votes), Montmagny–L’Islet–Kamouraska–Rivière-du-Loup (269 votes), Hochelaga (541 votes) and Regina–Lewvan (132 votes). A fifth recount was completed in Edmonton Mill Woods and confirmed the Liberal victory.

Judicial recounts are mandatory if the vote margin difference between the first and second-place candidates is less than one one-thousandth of the valid votes cast. They can also be done at the request of a candidate if there are questions about miscounted or rejected ballots.

The final Student Vote results

In total, 6,760 schools participated in Student Vote this election with 922,000 students casting a ballot, representing all 338 electoral districts. You can watch the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge break down the results in this video:

Like the results of the official election, students elected a Liberal majority government and a Conservative official opposition. You can access the final results here. Wanted to keep your class engaged with their democracy? There’s still time to take part in the National Democracy Challenge.

Budget day in Alberta

The Alberta NDP presented their first-ever provincial budget in Tuesday and Finance Minister Joe Ceci unveiled the plan that will see the province run its largest deficit to date.

What did the budget include? The Globe and Mail has put together a list of ‘nine takeaways’, or you can read the entire document here.

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

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Weekly Round-Up: October 23, 2015

October 23rd, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Canadians elect a Liberal majority government

The results are in! Canada’s 42nd general election took place on Monday and Canadians elected a Liberal majority government led by Justin Trudeau. The Conservatives came in second and will form the official opposition, while the NDP finished in third place. Complete results are available on the Elections Canada website.

Voter turnout jumped to 68.5 per cent for this election, up from 61.1 per cent in 2011 and 58.8 per cent in 2008. This is the highest level of turnout since 1993, when Jean Chrétien’s Liberals won a majority (and the Blue Jays won the World Series).

The Student Vote results

The Student Vote program also saw record participation, with more than 900,000 students under the voting age casting ballots from 6,500 elementary and secondary schools across the country. Like the adults, they elected a Liberal majority with a Conservative opposition. The complete riding-by-riding results are available here.

The program, and the results, have garnered some great media attention from across the country. They were covered by the Globe and Mail, Radio-Canada and many other local and regional papers and stations. Thanks again to the thousands of dedicated and enthusiastic educators who helped make the program a success!

Transition of power

Having won the election, Trudeau’s team has begun the transition to power. The prime minister-designate met with the outgoing PM on Wednesday afternoon before coming together again with Harper on Thursday morning to lay a wreath in remembrance of the two Canadian soldiers killed last October.

Trudeau will name his cabinet on November 4 and has committed to it being gender balanced. The House of Commons will return shortly thereafter, with electoral reform possibly at the top of the agenda.

Leadership races underway

Monday’s election result has sparked at least two leadership races. Gilles Duceppe has (once again) stepped down as Bloc Québécois leader, and Harper resigned from the Conservative top job. Thomas Mulcair and Elizabeth May are staying on as NDP and Green leaders, for now at least, although there is a petition for May to become the Liberal environment minister.

No date has been set for either upcoming leadership convention, but potential Conservative candidates have begun to make themselves known. Diane Finley has expressed interested in the interim job, and Michelle Rempel has mused about running on Twitter.

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

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Principled not partisan: A lesson from students on the future of Canada’s democracy

October 22nd, 2015 by CIVIX

In the early days of summer, before the election was even called, CIVIX began planning a project that would give young Canadians a voice throughout the campaign, rather than just at its close. Too often, students are only heard from after official polls close and the results are already known. We wanted to change this by inaugurating the Student Ambassador Network: an online initiative to share what future voters have to say about the 2015 federal election, and foster dialogue among high school students with those outside of their own personal and political circles. 

Beginning in September, students registered to become a Student Ambassador and received mandates from CIVIX each week. I have had the pleasure of reading and responding to these mandates, and was finally able to complete one myself last week after travelling across Canada to document the Student Vote experience.

From Halifax, to Edmonton, to Calgary, I found that students of all political stripes want a democratic process that is “civil and substantive”. This sentiment was first expressed in the Student Ambassadors’ live commentary on the leaders’ debates and has been echoed throughout the country and throughout the campaign.

Last Tuesday morning in Halifax I attended Prince Andrew High School’s all-candidates’ forum at the invitation of Keshav, the Student Ambassador responsible for organizing the event.  Representatives from every level of government were in attendance, including the mayor of Halifax Michael Savage, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment Andrew Younger, provincial leader of the opposition Jamie Baillie, and all four federal candidates from Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Even Joel Plaskett was there to perform!

In front of these dignitaries and a packed auditorium, Keshav made an opening remark that I won’t soon forget:

“We have the opportunity to create change, an opportunity that many youth around the world don’t have. There is nothing more influential than an informed group of youth. We need to find a passion that we believe in and build on it. It’s about being principled, not partisan. It’s about the policies that are best for Canada.”

Keshav perfectly articulated an idea that so many Canadian youth seem to share – “principled, not partisan”. Could you imagine how robust our democracy would be if every Member of Parliament abided by the same standard?               

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Keshav and all four federal candidates in Darthmouth-Cole Harbour.

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Obligatory post-forum selfie!

 

The sentiment followed me to Edmonton on Wednesday, where students from Victoria School of the Arts were participating in #CBCAsks. The CBC and Student Vote teamed up to find out what matters to Canada’s future voters, and I was there to represent CIVIX and raise awareness about the issues, concerns and hopes that high school students voiced about the election.

The first question posed to students was: What attributes are important in a leader? The first response was respect.

Our conversation quickly turned to the use of negative advertisements by all political parties in attempt to gain voter favour. One student raised her hand, “I think that policies should show the contrasts between parties, not attack ads. Leaders should tell us more about why their party is the right choice, and less about why the others are the wrong one.”

On Thursday morning, the conversation continued across the country in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver with similar answers repeated by future voters from east to west. Tweeting from the event at East York Collegiate Institute in Toronto, CBC news anchor Reshmi Nair picked up the trend.

In what The Globe and Mail’s Gary Mason and others have deemed the most “belligerent and divisive and, ultimately, un-Canadian” election in recent memory, the want of our youth for considerate and cooperative government is refreshing.

More than 922,000 future voters cast a Student Vote ballot, making sure their voices were heard in Canada’s 42nd federal election. Young Canadians from coast to coast to coast are willing and able to engage in our democratic process in an unprecedented number. Though none of their ballots affected the official outcome of the election, their shared idea could decide the future of our democracy.

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The Student Ambassador Network documents Student Vote 2015 from coast to coast

October 20th, 2015 by CIVIX

Last week we asked the Student Ambassador Network to document the Student Vote experience at their school. Once again we would like to share some of the outstanding responses that we’ve received. 

 

Nicholas
Edmonton West, Alberta

OCT. 3, EDMONTON – The Globe and Mail visited Blessed Oscar Romero High School to interview students (including Nick) and teachers about their Student Vote 2015 experience.

 

 

Keating
Vancouver Granville, British Columbia  

OCT. 9, VANCOUVER — Students at Ideal Mini School lined up to cast their ballots in the Student Vote Election today.

Ideal Mini School sits in the newly created riding of Vancouver-Granville, which has been a serious battleground for all parties since the beginning of the election. The major parties have been campaigning aggressively; Candidates and staff wave signs, distribute flyers and attend schools for Q&A sessions. Ideal Mini was visited by the NDP’s Mira Oreck, Jody Wilson Raybould of the Liberal Party, and Elain Ng of the Greens. On separate occasions, candidates took questions from the Grade 11 social studies class (Wilson-Raybould simultaneously saw the Grade 12 history students).

When asked if these meetings helped shape his decision on voting day Adam Atbi, 16, said the following: “Yes it did. It helps to get face to face with the person who representing you, versus what they and the party stand for. Also, How well they do answering our questions gives a small clue at how they will do with the whole house [of Commons] yelling at them.”

The polling station was open for most of the morning, and featured official Elections Canada ballots and voting screens. Students performed the roles of Poll Clerk, Deputy Returning Officer and Scrutineer.

The Student Vote election results will be broadcast alongside the official election results on October 19th.

 

Francesca
Kitchener South-Hespeler, Ontario 

OCT. 14, KITCHENER – Over 2,000 students at St. Mary’s High school participated in a mock federal election by voting for the candidates from each party that represented the Kitchener South-Hespeler riding.

Since the beginning of the school year, the St. Mary’s Student Vote Team worked diligently to create posters, banners and a master slide show that would help inform the students of the school. Not only did they advertise and educate about the most important and relevant points of each party’s platform, but they also shared some background information on each candidate.

Though it took a significant amount of time to prepare and conduct each duty, the actual voting process happened fairly quickly. Most of the members of the Student Vote Team were signed out of their first and second period classes to distribute the ballots to each class, and then to later tally them.

This year, the Student Vote Team also offered mobile polling stations where two or three members of the Student Vote Team would go to specific classes and explain the platforms and concerns of each party and candidate. Civics classes, history classes and ESL classes found these mobile polling stations to be very effective, as each Student Vote Member would answer questions regarding each candidate and would also remind them of the importance of having the right to vote. It was also a more authentic experience for these students, as each mobile polling station would provide portable voting stalls for each voter to vote in during the event. This simulated a real voting experience.  For those classes that did not request a mobile polling station, they watched the PowerPoints that we previously made on each candidate and their party platform.

Overall, Student Vote Day 2015 was by far more successful than the previous municipal election last year. More students seemed to be engaged, either through the posters, banners and general conversations fostered by the Student Vote Team. The advertising throughout the media, from Twitter, radio stations and TV commercials have garnered the interest of not only eligible voters but also future voters. Mr. Justin Trudeau’s youth and the exciting electoral debates between him and Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair generated a lot of interest in the younger demographic. It is exciting to see that more and more students are willing to contribute to the political dialogue that affects the country.

 

Kitchener South-Hespeler

Student Vote 2015 at St. Mary’s High School in Kitchener South-Hespeler.

 

Emily
Sarnia-Lambton, Ontario

 OCT. 15, LONDON – Nearly 300 students from London District Christian Secondary School cast a Student Vote ballot on their local candidates.

London District Christian Secondary School was one of many schools that participated in CIVIX’s Student Vote 2015. Approximately 300 students from the London, Ontario high school learned about the electoral process through a vote for under-age citizens. The school’s grade 10 Civics and Citizenship ran the vote just like a real vote, with polling clerks, ushers, scrutineers, and deputy returning officers. Results are yet to be released. Students, as well as all Canadians will know the results of the Student Vote and the adult Vote on Tuesday, October 20.”          

 

Keshav
Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

OCT. 15, HALIFAX – Keshav organized an all-candidates’ forum at Prince Andrew High School to engage the student body. Representatives from every level of government were in attendance, including the mayor of Halifax Michael Savage, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Environment Andrew Younger, provincial leader of the opposition Jamie Baillie, and all four federal candidates from Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. Even Joel Plaskett was there to perform!

 

Peyton
Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Ontario

OCT. 15, KEMPTVILLE – Peyton wrote a blog post to share the election excitement at St. Michael Catholic School. 

Students at Peyton's high school in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Island and Rideau Lakes

Students from St. Michael Catholic High School in Leeds-Greenville-Thousand Island and Rideau Lakes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paolo
Langley Aldergrove, British Columbia

OCT. 17, LANGLEY – Students at Pacific Academy got informed and excited about Canada’s 42nd election through Student Vote 2015.

When the time came for my class to vote, it was an exhilarating experience! We had a discussion in class about where each party stands on certain issues, and also had a discussion about each leader. Though the people (parents, teachers, and by extension, students) in my school overwhelmingly support one party, the discussion swayed some students after finding out more about policies and leaders. There was an air of energy in the line as ballots were cast.

Most students based their votes on matters that affected them personally, such as which party benefits their family the most financially. However, they also considered what they thought would be best for Canadians and looked to the future when casting their ballots, considering what each party had to say about the environment, healthcare, and electoral reform.

Initially, some students were apathetic to the whole voting process, since they didn’t see the importance of voting and didn’t really understand the differences between the parties. However, students who closely follow the election, myself included, filled them in on some of the issues and made them realize the importance of voting and making your voice heard. Through the general interest the majority of students had in the election, it’s an encouraging sign that Future Voters will turn up in large numbers and be genuinely interested in politics once they’re able to vote in a “real” election.

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Weekly Round-Up: October 16, 2015

October 16th, 2015 by Dan Allan

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

Federal election countdown

Election day is Monday! Polls are open for 12 hours and you can find out where and when you can vote on the Elections Canada website.

Canadians casting their ballots Monday will join the 3.6 million people who already voted during advance polls last weekend. That’s a more than 70-per-cent increase in turnout over advance polls during the last federal election!

A last look at the polls

They say that ‘the only poll that matters is on election day,’ but it’s still always interesting to see the latest projections before the official results start streaming in.

The Globe and Mail’s Election Forecast favours the Liberals to win the most seats. The CBC’s Poll Tracker also shows the Liberals ahead and gaining support.

National Student Vote Week

Canadian adults aren’t the only ones casting ballots. This week, Canadian elementary and high school students from more than 7,500 schools are participating in Student Vote, representing all 338 ridings across Canada.

From Victoria to St. John’s, and Toronto to Yellowknife, more than 700,000 students will be voting in their schools on the official candidates running in their riding. Results are released at the close of polls on election night.

#CBCAsks

As part of the 2015 Student Vote program, we partnered with Canada’s national broadcaster for #CBCAsks this week. High school students from five cities across Canada were invited to express their issues, concerns and hopes about the federal election.

These events took place on Wednesday and Thursday of this week – just days before the federal election – and featured CBC personalities like Matt Galloway and Adrienne Pan joining students in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto. You can follow the conversation online through the #CBCAsks hashtag.

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

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Student Ambassadors cover the campaign, making headlines in the process

October 12th, 2015 by CIVIX

Last week, we asked the Student Ambassador Network to show or tell us how the 2015 federal election is unfolding in their electoral district. We would like to share some the outstanding responses that we’ve received, including interviews with candidates, interviews with family and friends, and experiences at all-candidates’ debates.

COVERING THE LOCAL CAMPAIGN

Isabella in Victoria, British Columbia

The Campaign in my community is a two-way race between NDP candidate Murray Rankin and Green Party candidate Joanne Roberts. The Liberal Candidate resigned after some controversial Facebook posts, and the Conservative Party hasn’t won here in over 25 years. I have been to many NDP events and have volunteered on my local NDP candidate’s campaign. It has been harder to campaign these days as one of the biggest ways to gain or solidify support is to call people, but now with caller ID, over 70% of the people do not pick up. Many Canadians also don’t read flyers in their mailbox. The biggest way to get voters is social media, but that can be problematic if the candidate posts anything that can be misinterpreted. I would say the NDP is still going to win this seat, because a lot of people know Murray Rankin and support to him, but Joanne Roberts is definitely giving him a run for his money.

Simonne in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, British Columbia

My community of Pitt Meadows shares a riding with the city beside us, Maple Ridge. We have 5 candidates running in this election: Bob D’Eith of the NDP Party, Mike Murray of the Conservative Party, Dan Ruimy of the Liberal Party, Peter Tam of the Green Party, and an Independent, Steve Ranta. Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge usually votes either Conservative or NDP, with Randy Camp from the Conservative party winning the last election. This year there was a prediction of a tight race and it has held up to be true. When driving around looking at the campaign signs, it is close between Mike Murray and Bob D’Eith. There are more Conservative signs in Maple Ridge, whereas the NDP seems to have more support in Pitt Meadows. I love driving around and seeing all of the support for our local candidates and seeing people so proud of their party that they want to show off who they’ll be voting for. Signs have been up since the middle of September and it seems like on every morning walk to school there are more and more. There have been three debates held for all of the candidates this year. The first was on September 29th, which had a turnout of over 100 people, and the last on October 6th, drawing a crowd of 200 to our local private school.  The discussions centred around affordable housing, Canada’s international reputation, the C-51 anti-terror Bill, and mandatory vaccines for kids before they go to school. Even though the economy is a big part of the Conservative Party’s platform, it was not really discussed at any of the debates. When I talked to the adults in my life, my teachers, parents, and neighbours, I found the issues that were important to them are healthcare, seeing an increase in available family doctors, housing costs, aid for middle income families, job security (especially for teachers), and funding for seniors. It has been a tight race so far and everyone I have talked to seems to be leaning different ways for a variety of reasons. I love seeing all of our local candidates campaign with a common goal of being elected and making a big difference for our community. It has been an interesting campaign and I am looking forward to finding out who gets elected in my riding and who will be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

Callista in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia

I had the opportunity to attend a Green Party rally in Squamish featuring my local green candidate, Ken Melamed and the party leader, Elizabeth May. The event was called, ‘Defending Our Coast Green Party Rally.’ It was an interesting event and we had the chance to get a picture with Elizabeth herself. It ended up in the Squamish Chief newspaper. Talking to a lot of Squamish residents and students, the environment and the economy is a hot topic. With the struggle for Woodfibre LNG to set up their base on the Howe Sound, there are lots of opinions for and against the project. There is definitely a clear divide between our environmental concerns and economic development. A lot of people have expressed to me that they want the Green Party to win but they’re worried the vote will ‘split’ so they’re planning to vote for our Liberal or NDP candidate. I personally think that is silly and people should just vote with whom they agree with, and where their values lie for the future of this country whether it is Green, Liberal, Conservative or NDP. My social justice class is also running our school election! Which is exciting and I’m very excited to see the results of the students from my school.

 

Callista at a Green Party Rally in

Callista and friends at a rally with Green Party leader Elizabeth May in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country


Joel in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

Within my riding, the race has been pretty static. Most rural people support Randy Hoback, who is the Conservative candidate. Lon Borgerson, the NDP candidate, has also attracted some support in the rural areas. This is interesting because you’ve got two different worldviews competing for votes in the rural areas. There are plenty of rural people in my riding and not all of them are farmers. There are a lot of people in Prince Albert who commute into town and live out of town. Within the city of Prince Albert, most people are supporting either Borgerson or Hoback. For the past 15 years or so, the Liberal voter base has been shrinking. In terms of the campaign itself, I’ve seen a few of the debates held by the candidates. Mr. Hoback has mostly stuck to defending the record of the Harper Conservative Government, especially in regards to local infrastructure investment and lower taxes. Both Mr. Borgerson and Mr. Gordon Kirkby, the Liberal candidate, have spoken about their party’s plan for change. The campaign has been civil thus far, with no controversial statements made about candidates personally. The campaign here is about different plans for both the riding and Canada, not throwing mud at other candidates.

Nicholas in Oakville, Ontario

Since the end of August, I have had the privilege of being involved in the Oakville Conservative campaign where the incumbent, Terence Young, is seeking re-election. During my time working with  Mr. Young’s campaign, I have gone canvassing in various parts of the Oakville riding which has taught me invaluable social skills as I have had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of constituents and have had very meaningful conversations with them. While working with the campaign, I have learned about all of the important work Mr. Young has done in Ottawa since being elected in 2008, such as being able to secure substantial infrastructure funding for Oakville, creating and passing a bill named Vanessa’s law which protects Canadians from harmful prescription drugs, and continuing to protect Oakville’s interests. After hearing all of his accomplishments and successes he has had while representing my riding, I began to realize that Terence truly devotes all of his time and effort into looking out for Oakville and Canada and works tirelessly to serve our community. Before getting involved with the campaign, I was not very familiar with the electoral process and how elections functioned. Fortunately, my experience over the past two months has taught me all about elections in Canada and I am looking forward to being a scrutineer on Election Day. I am truly grateful for the life changing opportunity I have been given and I look forward to being much more involved in future elections and maybe serve the Canadian people one day.

Robert in Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ontario

Rural ridings, such as Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, have very different values and needs than most urban ridings. Agriculture is a common means of living in this area, and the policies and trade agreements set forth by each of the parties will certainly play a role in the vote. A predominantly middle-class region, many voters are looking for support from each of the candidates and their party’s platforms. However, it goes without saying that countless citizens feel as if the nearby cities of Ottawa and Kingston are encroaching on the area’s long tradition of rural culture and lifestyle. The preservation of natural ecosystems, management of natural resources, and dedication to agriculture is what rural ridings need to succeed, and I feel that whichever party is strongest on these three points is likely to win.

Sydney in Langley-Aldergrove, British Columbia 

My riding is currently being represented by Mark Warawa of the Conservative Party. Warawa was elected in 2006. During his time as a Member of Parliament, Warawa has worked to improve justice, human rights, emergency preparedness, and public safety. Mr. Warawa is now running to be re-elected as an MP and he is competing with Leon Jensen, Margot Sangster, and Simmi Dhillon. Leon Jensen, who is a member of the Liberal Party, is a retired Canadian Forces lieutenant who is passionate about serving his community and country. A member of the New Democratic Party, Margot Sangster, has recently worked in Afghanistan as a technical advisor. She is passionate about delivering solutions to challenges in our community and hopes to strengthen our city and the people in it. The fourth candidate for MP is Simmi Dhillon, and she is a member of the Green Party. Dhillon is dedicated to act on climate change in our community. While I have not had the opportunity to attend a debate or campaign event, I have researched all the candidates. I have visited them on their party’s page, discussed the topic with my peers and family, and paid attention to my local news. After extensive research, I have decided who I would vote for.

 

ALL-CANDIDATES’ DEBATES

Student Ambassadors from four different schools across the country made headlines for their role in organizing and participating in all-candidates’ debates.

Jack in Simcoe-Grey attended a debate held at his high school that featured every candidate in the riding! He was able to meet the candidates afterwards and learn about their party’s ideas in detail. The event was covered by local media, and you can read about it here.

Sadia in Stevenson-Richmond East attended the all-candidates’ debate at her school and took the opportunity to ask the NDP and Conservative representatives about an issue that she says concerns her and many of her fellow citizens. Her question and the candidates’ responses were reported in the Richmond News.

 

RichmondDebate

All-candidates’ debate in Stevenson-East Richmond, British Columbia

 

Shannon in Cumberland-Colchester watched her school’s debate with her Grade 12 Law class. The class had compiled a list of 20 questions to ask the candidates, but weren’t able to because of enthusiasm from the rest of the student body. Her fellow students rushed to the stage of the auditorium to address the candidates directly.

“It was extremely motivating to see how many people in my schools had something to say,” she explains. “It demonstrated how much students care despite not being of age to vote.”

Her school’s debate was featured in the Truro Daily News.

Mahdi and Sophie in Richmond Hill were appointed by their teacher to ask the opening questions at their school’s all-candidates’ debate. Liberal candidate Majid Jowhari commended the Student Ambassadors and their classmates for the quality of the questions they posed.

“I think we should have come here first, before he did the [chamber of commerce] debate because these are amazing questions,” he said.

The debate covered a wide range of issues from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to Bill C-51, to Canadian refugee policy. You can read more about what the students and candidates had to say here.

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All-candidates’ debate in Richmond Hill, Ontario

 

INTERVIEWS WITH CANDIDATES

Peyton in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Ontario

To complete her second mandate, Peyton reached out to her local candidates for a one-on-one interview. So far, she has received responses from Green Party candidate Lorraine Rekmans and Conservative Party incumbent George Brown. You can check out her full blog post here.

Jérémy in Gaspésie-Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine

Jérémy created a YouTube video featuring an audio recording of his interview with NDP candidate Philip Toone.

Olivia in Oxford, Ontario

Olivia also reached out to her local candidates and was able to interview NDP candidate Zoe Kunschner and Conservative incumbent Dave Mackenzie.

Interview with NDP candidate Zoe Kunschner

Olivia and Zoe

Olivia and Zoe

O: What are the main points in your platform, and are there any that relay specifically towards the population in Oxford County?

Z: The pillar of our platform is the 15$ a day childcare, not only will that have a HUGE economic boost, it makes childcare affordable and lets working families get back into the workforce.

Oxford is agriculture under supply management, and very very heavy on the auto industry. Which is why for this entire campaign I have been on about the Trans-Pacific Partnership which has come down today, and is a signed deal. Oxford County is basically the “eye of the storm”, and the two main economic drivers of our county are now in complete jeopardy with what Harper has done.

Our environmental platform is huge. It’s very closely connected with our economic platform. A lot of the green energy jobs that are going to help our country get back on a good economic standpoint is going to be through developing sustainable energy. Oxford County is leading the pack already! The county itself has come up with some great initiatives, and I really think an NDP government is going to help make us a centre of excellence.

I think of how big our platform is, and those three are the main points that really have an impact on Oxford.

O: I was wondering if your platform had anything specific for youth, especially those that are new voters or people currently in school?

Z: We have a fantastic youth platform, not only working with the provinces to properly fund our universities, our government wants to get back into funding the research done by universities. It’s ridiculous how expensive tuition is. Some of the most innovative parts of our country come out of our university programs. The government,

  1. Has to have an active role not only in funding these programs,
  2. But working with the provinces to get tuition rates to an amount where young people can actually graduate with a manageable debt load that you don’t have to spend the next 30 years paying off.

Our youth employment strategy is to use the existing government organizations we have, whether its Crown corporations, municipalities, provinces to create job opportunities. We’ve put on the table 40,000 youth jobs just by getting young people working in government. We want to make sure that people trying to get into the workforce get paid internships. Why should you still having to pay rent, still having to pay living expenses, be working for free? Who is that benefiting? The company, not you. We definitely want to put an end to unpaid internships.

I also personally had a problem when they put in Student Minimum Wage. Is student work any less relevant than someone my age working? No. We definitely want to make sure that our youth are paid fairly and that they have access to jobs.

O: Why do you think it’s important for youth 18-24 to vote?

Z: It’s your future. Why would you want a bunch of what we have right now, old people sitting in Parliament making decisions about your life, about the quality of jobs that may or may not be available for you? It’s one of those things that unless you get engaged at a young age, you’re never going to be engaged. Unfortunately in a democracy, if you’re not actively involved in the democracy, you’re going to end up with what we have right now – a dictatorship that will determine for us what they want done.  

If young people don’t vote, then your concerns won’t be taken seriously and that’s not a way to engage you. I think once we get a government and a member of the local party that’s actually interested in bringing youth to the table, they will ask “hey, what are your concerns and how can we work together?” Having an NDP government is going to be so different for this country because we are about partnership and about listening and about that grassroots movement. The government under its current form is reactionary, whereas with us we’re on the ground and talking to people so our policy basically comes from the ground up, not the other way around.

O: Do you have any advice to youth that want to pursue politics, or want to start getting active with the government?

Z: Just do it! It is so rewarding when you get involved in your community. Whether it’s the environment, or sports, there are so many ways to get involved! Getting involved when you’re younger helps you gain your confidence and it helps you get those connections and helps you build a wonderful resume. My motto is, the more people that we can bring to the table, the more effectively we can bring about change.

O: Thank you so much for your time and best of luck in the Election!

Interview with Conservative incumbent Dave Mackenzie

Olivia and Dave

Olivia and Dave

O: What are the main points in your platform, and are there any points that affect Oxford County?

D: This election we’re going to build on the things that we’ve already done. There will be additional tax credits for widows and seniors, the 2016/2017 taxation year will have home renovation tax credits and it will amount to 15%, up to 5000$. It is good for the contractors in Oxford and others.

The Prime Minister announced a “Hub” of Excellence which will be placed in the Burlington area. This will connect manufacturers with people who need their product, but more importantly it will build the Canadian brand and the brand of our manufacturers.

O: Actually, building off the manufacturing point, do you think that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will affect that at all?

D: No I don’t, because today the Prime Minister announced a billion dollars for the auto industry going forward, and that can be used for a variety of things in the auto sector. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that whenever we do anything there is always that “fear of the unknown”. People always tend to air on the side that it will be disastrous. Interestingly, the Japanese auto manufacturers that are in Canada today export 6 times more cars out of Canada than we import from Japan. So, our auto industry in Oxford has become very efficient and it needs to become more efficient in many ways. Some of this billion dollars will go towards that.

O: Is there anything in the Conservative platform that affects young people, that could entice them to vote?

D: Over the years we’ve made a lot of changes for that group of people. Bursaries and scholarships are no longer taxable, they are tax free. We’ve changed the Canada Student Loan and Grant Program, enhanced them for students. We’ve also encouraged funding for the apprenticeship programs because we see more and more people going into trades and apprenticeships, so we’ve worked on that part. There are additional incentives for employers in the trades.

O: Do you think it’s important for young people to vote?

D: Absolutely! People think that their vote won’t matter, but in reality every vote does. If we have 50% of the population thinking their vote doesn’t matter than 50% of the population won’t vote, which really affects the results of the election.

My view is that deciding to vote also comes from your parents. The parents need to make sure to teach their kids about politics and teach them that they have the responsibility to vote because if a person’s parents don’t vote, they most likely won’t vote either. But if you get in the habit of voting early, it will stay a habit for life.

O: Do you have any advice for people that would like to go into politics when they’re older?

D: I think that you should really be involved with your community. It’s the best way that I know to learn about what’s going on in your community.

O: Thank you so much for your time, and good luck in the elections!


INTERVIEWING FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Madison in Battlefords-Lloydminster, Saskatchewan interviewed both of her parents and two friends about the issues that matter to them in this election.

Madison’s Mom: Being a woman with a chronic illness and autism, I have faced many forms of discrimination across all of Canada and throughout the healthcare system that is currently implemented. It is my concern, that I am not the only one who has faced these types of challenges living in Canada. I’d like to see the elected government take steps to prevent abuse within Canada’s healthcare system and to possibly put further funding into programs that deal with both mental illness, and chronic illness, properly and effectively.

Madison’s Dad: Due to the healthcare system discriminating against your mother, I was forced to spend my entire pension plan, and our savings to send her down to the States for proper treatment. What I want to see changed and improved within Canada, is how our government treats single income families and more funding to be added to the Canadian pension plan. I find it to be unfair, that because I make a certain amount every year, I am considered privileged, and yet I am forced to live pay cheque to pay cheque because of taxes and fees. It is unfair to my family, that we can’t afford new winter clothes, or groceries, simply because one of us is sick.

Madison and her dad in

Madison and her dad in Battlefords-Lloydminster

Friend 1: Student loans are currently a huge issue for my family and I. I am unable to move out of my parents’ house and afford rent on my own. The debt will be a constant weight on both me, and my family for the years to come. Education is of the upmost importance to me, however I feel like the cons currently outweigh the pros of continuing on to secondary education. While in school, I am only able to work a part-time job, and that definitely doesn’t cover the debt. My parents have two other children that they have to feed, clothe, and put through school. It’s blasphemy I tell you, blasphemy!

Friend 2: The cost of tuition fees and everything else was too much for my family to be able to afford. Since I live in a big city (Edmonton), the opportunities available are filled up pretty quickly. Employers see a young person, and the first thing they do is stick you in a minimum wage role. Minimum wage doesn’t cover much of anything in this economy. The inherent assumption that students don’t need to be paid as much as working adults grinds on my nerves. Our parents can’t provide everything for us, try as they might. I want Canada to take a completely different approach to both youth employment, and secondary education fees.


THE SOCIAL MEDIA CONVERSATION

Posted in English | Comments Off on Student Ambassadors cover the campaign, making headlines in the process

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