Last Friday on BC Almanac (a local CBC show) the topic of the call in show was centered on what we need to do to engage youth so that they vote. I have to say that I was stupefied by some of the callers. What came through was a complete lack of responsibility for their democratic obligations.

At least two of the callers said that it was the responsibility of schools to teach them about politics. I don’t know where they went to school but I certainly learned about politics in high school. I also learned that it was my responsibility to vote. I can remember always being engaged in politics.[1] Once I was older and had learned about the various political parties and their platforms there were almost nightly political debates at dinner. Growing up in 1970/80s Alberta when Trudeau was in power, the National Energy Program (NEP) was  always a topic of conversation. My parents were in the oil business peripherally and the NEP impacted their business.

One caller said that youth were too lazy to vote and the solution was to make it easier by introducing online voting. It is so hard to reconcile the protests that have been gripping so many countries as people, mostly youth, agitate for the right to vote. Complacency is a big problem amongst the youth. It also does not help that the national parties do not try to engage the youth vote. They realize that the youth would likely support more left wing and environmentally friendly parties like the NDP or the Greens. Perhaps that was part of the reason Elizabeth May was kept out of the debates?

If we are to engage youth to vote, parents must start at home creating a culture of political participation. This of course means that the parents have to be voting as well. Political education starts at home. Youth also need to take responsibility to make sure they are educated about politics so that they can exercise their democratic obligations. Clearly this cannot just happen during election campaigns. The electorate needs to engage in the political process between elections so that they are able to vote at elections with knowledge and confidence.

[1] Right down to watching the Watergate hearings on TV as a young child.


One thought on “The Youth Vote

  1. I think the reason the youth have not been very interested in voting is because we continue to have the same old stuffy relics to choose from.

    I do believe this election we’re going to see the youth come out in droves. There is a revolution brewing and I, for one, could not be happier! One thing I know is that the youth won’t vote Harper!

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