According to Elections Canada, the last decade has shown a significant gap between younger and older age groups when it comes to voter turnout.
The organization even conducted a National Youth Survey in 2015, which ultimately found motivation and success to be the two biggest barriers that prevented youth from voting.
It also found that compared to older voters, many Canadian youth are not only less interested in politics, but also don’t necessarily feel that voting will make a difference, believing the government doesn’t care what they think and tend to see voting as a choice rather than a duty.
That year, young voter turnout was reportedly more than 20 percentage points lower than that for people in the 65-to-74 age group.
Four years later, that gap increased, with youth at 25 percentage points lower than the 65-to-74 age group.
Not all young people, however, feel so disengaged and are working diligently with various political parties throughout the region to try to increase youth engagement in politics — locally, provincially and federally.
The ‘blue’ sheep in the family
Hale Mahon, 19, comes from a politically diverse family.
A member of the federal Conservative Party since he was 15 and provincially since 2017, Mahon told BarrieToday both of his parents as well as his grandparents are all very politically active, which is what ultimately piqued his interest and prompted him to get more involved.
“Interestingly enough, all of my family are Liberal and NDP, so I’m not sure how I became Conservative,” he said.
After meeting then-PC Party leader Patrick Brown — who has deep ties to Barrie as a former city councillor, local MP and area MPP — while attending a community event in 2017, Mahon says he found the right fit. Despite being cut from a different political cloth than the rest of his family, Mahon says it’s never created any issues for him.
“Everyone who I talked to politically in my family respected my views, even if I didn’t agree with them, and I respected their views,” he said. “You might have different positions on a certain issue, but your end goal is to improve people’s lives. That’s the end goal of all of politics.”
Mahon believes getting involved at a young age is important, especially since they will ultimately be the ones running for public office in the future.
“I think if you get involved now, it really gives you a leg up and a foot in the door in order to get involved in a bigger capacity in the future,” he said.
Anyone interested in volunteering should reach out to their local riding association for more information, Mahon said. Even if you’re not interested in knocking on doors or assisting with a campaign, showing up on Election Day is just as important, he added.
“In the 2015 federal election, we saw a very small vote difference. It was a very tight election and I think it came down to 50 votes or something in that ball park. If 50 people had voted a different way, it would have changed the outcome of the election,” he said.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that one person can’t change anything politically, but your vote does matter.”
Owen Quann’s fascination with politics has been a longtime passion and is what ultimately drove the 22-year-old to begin asking questions and take action.
Quann told BarrieToday he first got involved in politics in 2015.
“I was emailing representatives from different parties asking about policies and how I can volunteer my time, the only party that responded were the Greens,” he said.
That’s when he met Bonnie North, the current Green candidate for the 2022 provincial election.
“She taught me the Green values and what it means to fight for the people and planet that I care about,” Quann said.
Now, more than ever, he says young people are pivotal in securing a sustainable future not only for Canadians but for the whole world.
“We know that too many of our current representatives care not about creating a prosperous society where people and the environment takes precedence over petty profit. The youth of our nation must step up and take control of our own futures,” Quaan said.
He says he’d advise any young person wanting to get involved in any level of government not be fearful to ask questions and meet new people.
“Most people involved in politics are thrilled to see youth engagement. They want to hear your voice, so use it.”
As a young, Afghan-Canadian woman growing up in Barrie, Aria Kamal says she didn’t see a lot of people like her in political office.
“I did not see as much diverse representation and, in particular, intersectional representation, in political spheres, when I was growing up,” said the 24-year-old Lakehead University law student.
Amal, who represented Barrie-Innisfil as the federal representative for Equal Voice’s Daughters of the Vote campaign in Ottawa, told BarrieToday she believes young people provide integral insight into society’s most pressing concerns and issues.
“I think that’s why a lot of significant social movements in history share that one common characteristic, which is youth as the driving force of substantive change.
“For me, I believed my lived experiences provided me with a unique lens,” she said.
It was while in Ottawa that she learned about political institutions and about how the MPs work with the institutions at parliament.
“That’s where I got my driving force to get more involved within the Liberal Party and government in particular,” she said. “In the past, the main difference is youth didn’t feel their voices were being heard or represented… and it was disheartening.
“But I love to see we are getting more youth engagement, specifically because I think now, as youth are approaching more elections in the future, we’re understanding that our priorities are being looked at more seriously and being prioritized.”
Joining the orange wave
Sarah Ortiz credits one of her college professors for spurring her involvement in politics.
Ortiz, 25, told BarrieToday she eventually joined the school’s debating society, which is where she learned of the opportunity to be involved with the upcoming election, and connected with members of the local NDP riding association.
“Prior to starting my post-secondary educational journey, I would never have envisioned myself in politics. I’m an immigrant. My entire family are immigrants in this country. I was born in Italy and came here at a young age,” she said.
“We struggled for years to get our papers, learn the language, and cope with the culture shock,” Ortiz added. “I hated politics and this country growing up because of so many things I saw my family members endure … but now I recognize I have a privilege and duty as a Canadian resident.”
Ortiz says she wants to give back to her community and her country. She says she could not have achieved the things she has — or become the person she is today — if Canada had not invested in her.
“I want to do more to help marginalized communities and politics is a great place to try and do so,” she said.
Ortiz believes it’s essential for young people to be involved in politics for a plethora of reasons.
“Young people are coping with the repercussions of the decisions of previous generations. We have been given debt, a burning, polluted planet, endless systemic and humanitarian issues, and unprecedented inflation rates. Not only do we need to be more active in politics, but politics needs us as well in efforts for anything to positively change,” she said.
“We have learned from the mistakes of generations before us, and it’s time for millennials and Gen Z communities to be validly recognized.”
It’s also a great way to gain public-speaking and debate skills, stay informed on current events, network, meet your community, and build your resume, Ortiz says.
“Volunteering is a great way to give back, but could also lead to a future employment opportunity as well. It’s a fantastic way to make a difference. We want to encourage philanthropic trailblazers. We want to encourage critical thinkers and doers,” she said.
“Young people hold the most power. We can enormously influence the election, at whichever level it may be held (local, provincial, federal), by ensuring young people make it to the voting booths.”
Ortiz’s advice to her fellow millennials is to be bold, fearless, and just “go for it.”
“Talk to community members, ask questions to those already involved, volunteer, delve into some research – do whatever speaks to you and is within your capacities. You don’t have to run an entire election or be the prime minister to be involved in politics,” she said. “Anyone can, and everyone should, participate in politics to whatever extent possible.
“Something as simple as a signature, a phone call, putting up a lawn sign, or even a small one-time donation can go a very, very long way. Stay passionate and stay excited. Politics can be challenging, but also more rewarding than you might think.”
The federal election is set for Sept. 20.
Mail-in delays and recounts: Canada’s election tallying drags on.
Three days after Canada‘s federal election, the final tally of seats remained unclear on Thursday, with mail-in ballots still being counted in some regions and at least one electoral district facing an automatic recount.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals were handed another minority mandate late on Monday, in an election that ended with all the major parties holding virtually the same number of seats they had before the vote was called.
A handful of seats remain too close to call, as election workers across the country continue to count ballots. Those tight races will not meaningfully impact the overall outcome.
“We’re on pace to have all results within five days of polling day, and the majority should be in by the end of today,” said Natasha Gauthier, an Elections Canada spokesperson.
The count is taking time due to both coronavirus protocols and the fact that votes are being counted locally while being monitored by political party representatives.
Trudeau will not speak to media until the results are all in, a Liberal spokesman said.
As of 1:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday (1730 GMT), the Liberals were elected or leading in 158 of the 338 seats. The official opposition Conservatives were leading in 119, the left-leaning New Democrats in 25 and the Greens holding just two. The Quebec-focused Bloc Quebecois looked set to take 34.
Graphic: Canada‘s provisional election results:
One electoral district faces an automatic recount, which occurs when the race is decided by less than 0.001% of all votes cast. Parties can also request recounts in very close races after the count is finalized.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Ocean politics, DNA history and the climate experiment: Books in brief – Nature.com
To Rule the Waves
Bruce D. Jones Scribner (2021)
The oceans are the key zone for potential military confrontation; some 85% of global commerce relies on them; around 90% of global data flows along undersea cables; oceans are central in the global fight over climate change. Those four simple facts are analysed in this penetrating historical and political study. Author Bruce Jones, director of the project on international order at Washington DC think tank the Brookings Institution, fears future oceanic conflict, especially now that COVID-19 has amplified existing international tensions.
The Secret of Life
Howard Markel Norton (2021)
The 1953 discovery of DNA’s double-helix structure might be one of science’s most fascinating and oft-told stories. Yet much about it is still contentious — even who termed it “the secret of life”. Historian of medicine Howard Markel’s fine book focuses on the role of Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray crystallography image of DNA — crucial to Francis Crick and James Watson’s breakthrough — was used without her permission. A hesitant Watson tells Markel that he was “honest but … you wouldn’t say I was exactly honorable”.
A Biography of the Pixel
Alvy Ray Smith MIT Press (2021)
Pixel is short for ‘picture element’: a misleading etymology, writes computer scientist Alvy Smith, who co-founded Pixar Animation Studios in 1979. Pixels are invisible, like computer bits, and not to be confused with “the little glowing areas on a screen, called display elements”. Hence this book’s technical core: how the former is converted to the latter, and the thinkers who paved the way. These range from Alan Turing to the undersung graphics mathematicians involved in the films Monsters, Inc., Toy Story, Finding Nemo and more.
Our Biggest Experiment
Alice Bell Bloomsbury Sigma (2021)
Climate campaigner and science writer Alice Bell’s nuanced and accessible history of the climate crisis describes the legacy of scientists including Eunice Foote, the first to warn that increasing atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would affect global temperatures, at an 1856 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By ignoring Foote’s insight for so long, “we’ve inherited an almighty mess”, concludes Bell. But “a lot of tools” can alleviate the effects of global warming, if used wisely.
Being a Human
Charles Foster Profile (2021)
Vet and barrister Charles Foster won an Ig Nobel Prize for living in the wild as various animals, as described in Being a Beast (2016). In his latest book — controversial, yet oddly compelling — he lives as if in the upper Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Enlightenment periods, and compares human consciousness in each. Ancient hunter-gatherers, he argues, were superior to modern urban-dwellers for their “cosmopolitanism” and “motion”. He savages written language, invented post-Neolithic, for its “wholly spurious authority” over experience.
An anti-green backlash could reshape British politics – The Economist
WHATEVER A British voter’s natural political hue—Tory blue, Labour red or Liberal Democrat orange—these days it ends up green-tinged. The Tory government talks effusively about “building back greener”. Labour wants a “green industrial revolution”. Liberal Democrats have used their position as the third party to argue for everybody to go further and faster. And then there are all the people who want to raze the carbon economy to the ground the day after tomorrow: not just the Green Party but also extremist groupuscules such as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.
Which leaves a gap in the market for something different: anti-green politics. Brexit transformed Britain by tapping into ordinary people’s resentment of distant elites, and anti-greenery could do the same. Environmentalism is driven by populists’ two big bogeymen, scientific experts and multilateral institutions. Green campaigners vie to befuddle the public with acronyms and jargon. Multilateral institutions override democratic legislatures in order to co-ordinate global action. In the public mind, greenery is coming to mean global confabs that produce yet more directives, and protesters who block city centres and motorways.
Greenery suffers from the classic problems of technocratic policymaking, namely offering distant rewards in return for immediate sacrifices and imposing uneven costs. Over-50s, the most reliable voters, won’t be around to see the world boil. Poorer people are likely to suffer more than richer ones from the green transition, not just because they have less disposable income but also because they are more likely to work in the dirty economy. The impression of injustice is reinforced by the fact that many of the most vocal green activists have a material interest in the green economy as bureaucrats, lobbyists and entrepreneurs.
A fuel-price rise in 2018 inspired France’s gilets jaunes; Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland and Finland’s Finns Party have lambasted green hysteria. In Britain, by contrast, anti-greenery is still nascent. Some on the Tory right have complained that their party is in the grip of the green lobby. A few MPs in the “red wall”—once-safe Labour seats in northern England that turned Tory over Brexit—have warned that green levies on driving could see those voters switch back again. The closure of some London streets to through-traffic has sparked protests.
But such rows are about to get a lot louder. Turbulence on the global energy market is drawing unflattering attention to British energy suppliers, which are struggling with the transition from coal- and gas-fired plants to renewables. The more the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, says about there being “absolutely no question of the lights going out”, the more consumers will worry. And other environmental policies on the horizon will also hit them hard. From 2030 the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned. The electric cars that will replace them are rapidly improving, but not yet as cheap or as convenient. For city-dwellers it is hard enough to find parking without having to look for a charging-point too, and long journeys require planning.
Since the discovery of gas in the North Sea in 1965, most British homes have used the fuel to heat their homes. But the government plans to take gas-fired boilers off the market in the coming years, to be replaced by hydrogen boilers or heat pumps. The date for the switchover is slipping, since neither technology is ready for mass roll-out. Air-source heat pumps are larger than gas boilers, produce lower temperatures and cost much more. People’s enthusiasm for greenery may reach its limits if familiar, well-functioning products are replaced by more expensive, inferior ones.
In the past decade climate-change denialism has given way to something cannier and harder to pin down. Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party and a major force behind Brexit, claims that he is as green as the next man—indeed that he voted for the Green Party back in the 1980s—but that he’s in favour of “sensible environmentalism” rather than the establishment kind that taxes “poor people to give money to rich people and big corporations while China’s going to ignore it all”.
Anti-greens are also seeking to reshape politics indirectly: not just by creating new parties, but by changing the hue of the established ones from inside. For neither of Britain’s biggest parties is as deep-dyed green as they appear to onlookers. The Conservative Party certainly has big names who preach environmentalism, like Zac Goldsmith, an aristocratic Brexiteer. But it has always also been the party of homeowners who care about their energy bills, motorists who want to get the last mile from every gallon and older people who don’t want to change their ways. More recently, they have been joined by red wall voters with little spare cash. Labour, for its part, is an uneasy coalition of graduates, who cheer every green initiative, and lower-paid workers, who are nostalgic for the days of well-paid jobs in heavy industry and primarily concerned with making ends meet.
Hot air emissions
How to avert an anti-green backlash? Politicians need to avoid unforced errors, such as making everyone rip out perfectly good boilers before replacements are ready. They need to shield vulnerable groups from the costs of the energy transition, remembering how the mood turned against globalisation when politicians failed to honour promises to compensate the losers. They need to see the world through the eyes of people who accept that climate change is a problem but must ceaselessly struggle to get by in the here and now. The prime minister, Boris Johnson, won easy applause at a UN round table on climate action this week by expressing frustration that the “something” the world is doing to limit global warming is “not enough”. The audience he really needs to convince is the one that laughed along to his provocations before he re-entered Parliament in 2015, such as mocking wind power as too weak to pull the skin off a rice pudding.
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