Everything you need to know about the student vote and elections

The student vote offers youth a chance to get involved in politics.

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The federal election is on October 21, and although those under the age of 18 may not vote, there is still a student mock vote they may take part in. This mock vote allows students to simulate the process of voting in their schools. It takes place on Thursday, October 17 in Block B at Riverside Secondary. The student vote is a national initiative created by the organization Student Vote which allows students in schools across Canada to participate in a mock vote during elections.

Student Vote has resources for classrooms to help students learn about politics, democracy, and voting procedures. Any Canadian school can register to receive ballots for their students to use in a mock vote.

Ms. Caroline Ross, a teacher at Riverside Secondary, says the student vote is an important initiative to promote political engagement in students. “It is an opportunity for students to practice the democratic process of voting for their government and to learn a bit about how the electoral process works,” said Ross.

We need to get involved in politics to change our future.
Thea Erickson

“I think the student vote is important because it offers us a chance to learn about politics and how real voting in elections may work,” commented Ainsley Enos, a grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary.

The student vote allows youth to get involved in politics, which is vital in today’s society. “You are part of this society, so you should have some sort of say. Just because you’re not eligible to vote doesn’t mean you don’t have a voice,” said Mr. Ben Lepore, a teacher at Riverside Secondary.

Thea Erickson, a grade 12 student at Riverside Secondary, says the student vote promotes voting when youth become of age. “So often, youth aren’t interested in or don’t understand politics. This is dangerous because then when they turn 18 they don’t vote,” said Erickson. “We need to get involved in politics to change our future.”

Some say the current voting age of 18-years-old should be lowered to 16. “I think there are a lot of 16 and 17-year-old’s who are prepared to vote. So, why not extend it to that age? Especially since the earlier you vote, it will become a habit and then you start to engage,” said Lepore.

Although most students are not of age to vote, the student vote gives them a chance to get involved. Voting entails researching candidates and their parties, which may be a hassle, but is vitally important in this era of disinformation. Here is information, relevant to youth, on the parties running in this election.

The Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberals, led by Justin Trudeau, are one of the parties running for government in this election. If the Liberals are re-elected, they say they will implement a minimum wage of $15/hour, which will also be set to rise with inflation. On the topic of the environment, the Liberals say they will introduce legally binding targets to make Canada carbon-neutral by 2050; as well as, plant two billion trees over ten years as a part of a $3 billion fund for natural climate solutions. The Liberals say they will also establish a Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government to help promote human rights and democracy worldwide. They say that under a Liberal government, an additional $3 billion per year would be invested in Canadian transit to ensure stability and predictableness. Liberals promise new legislation to improve the quality of healthcare for Indigenous people, as well as, maintain the commitment to improve Indigenous people’s living conditions; this includes the elimination of all long-term drinking water advisories by 2021. Find out more about the Liberal Party of Canada and their promises here.

The Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservatives, led by Andrew Scheer, say they will cancel the carbon tax and work to develop green technology if elected. This includes emissions-reducing technology for vehicles. The Conservative’s goal is to make Canada energy independent by 2030; they say they will introduce a Green Public Transit Tax Credit, which will give Canadians a 15% refund on bus passes and other public transit costs. They also say they will repair relationships with key allies and continue to strengthen the alliances currently had with other democratic countries. Another promise they have is to boost the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help families save for post-secondary education, as well as ensure universities foster a culture of free speech to receive federal funding. On the topic of immigration, Conservatives say they will end illegal border crossings into Canada and close loopholes in the Safe-Third Country Agreement. They say they will ensure that infrastructure projects involve consultations with Indigenous peoples at the forefront of the planning process. Find out more on the Conservative Party of Canada and their promises here.

New Democratic Party of Canada (NDP)

Canada’s NDP, led by Jagmeet Singh, say they will aim to institute a national minimum wage set at $15/hour and all unpaid internships outside of school programs would be banned. They say they will declare a climate emergency and look to make Canada a world leader in greenhouse gas emissions. Another promise involving the environment they have is to invest in energy-efficient green technologies to stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. They say they will also make all federal vehicles electric by 2025, electrify transit and municipal fleets by 2030, maintain the federal carbon tax, and set a goal of powering all of Canada with net carbon-free electricity by 2030 while moving to 100 percent non-emitting electricity by 2050. Involving education, the NDP says they will work with provinces to reduce tuition fees at post-secondary institutions while working towards integrating it into the public education system, eliminate interest on student debt, and transition away from loans and offer more grants. They say they will work towards making public transit more affordable and eventually fare-free. The party also says they will create a National Action Plan for Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Find out more about the NDP’s promises here.

Green Party of Canada

The Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, say they will establish a federal minimum wage of $15/hour and ban unpaid internships. On the topic of education, the party says they will work towards abolishing tuition, eliminate student debt over $10 000, and increase federal student grants by 25 percent. They say they will end the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and increase immigration where there are worker shortages. Another promise is to abolish the federal Indian Act, allow Indigenous peoples to govern themselves, and work towards a National Healing Strategy to right previous wrongs. Involving the environment, the Green Party says they will work to reduce Canadian greenhouse gas emissions, put a price on carbon to ensure it’s revenue-neutral, end all subsidies to fossil fuel companies, and establish a Federal Ministry of Energy Transition Plan to coordinate a transition from the fossil fuel-based economy to renewable energy. Find out more about the Green Party of Canada and their promises here.

People’s Party of Canada

The People’s Party of Canada, led by Maxime Bernier, say if they are elected, provinces will make their own decisions about carbon taxes and emissions, Pharmacare, education, housing, transit, and childcare. They also say they will not fund government interventions to fight climate change, would abolish the federal carbo tax, use constitutional powers if necessary to ensure pipelines are built and withdraw Canada from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Involving immigration, the People’s Party say they will reduce the number of annual immigrants to between 100 000 and 150 000, which is lower than the current goal of 330 000; they also say they will reduce numbers in the categories of family reunifications and refugees. Another promise from the party is to change or abolish the Indian Act to create a new relationship with Indigenous people and they say they would respect the treaties already signed. Find out more about the People’s Party of Canada here.

Voting is important, and the student vote gives youth an opportunity to learn and experience what voting in an election may feel like. The earlier youth get involved in politics and voting, the stronger their ability is to take control of their own futures.

Riverside students, make sure you participate in the student vote happening this Thursday, October 17 in Block B.