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

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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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