June 24, 2022

Political candidates ignore young voters at their peril, advocates say

Canada’s youth showed considerable voting strength in the 2015 federal election, where 57.1% of young people turned out at the polls, an 18% increase from the 2011 election.

But the trend over the past four decades has seen youth voter turnout drop from 73% in 1965 to 44% in 1997.

Daunte Hillen is one of those rare young people with an early education in politics and will be an enthusiastic voter in the next election. Volunteering for NDP candidate Monique Taylor, the incumbent representative for the riding of Hamilton Mountain, Hillen said politicians need to talk to young people about the issues.

“Some of these young people could be the next premier of Ontario or a candidate,” he said.

Among eligible young people aged 18 to 24, 66% voted in the 2021 federal election, down 2% from 2019. However, Ontario recorded higher turnout rates among young people in the province. 77% in the last elections. According to the latest census, more than 3.5 million Ontario residents are between the ages of 18 and 25.

Hillen, 14, who will start Sherwood High School in September, said he learned about Ontario politics as a page in the Legislative Assembly.

The page program accepts approximately 150 young students from across Ontario to experience the four-week term in which the provincial Legislative Assembly is in action.

“I picked up things and followed different politicians,” he said.

In school, young people learn civic government in grade 5 and then in grade 10.

Hillen acknowledged that while he keeps abreast of municipal and provincial politics, he views federal politics as less interesting.

Elections Canada found in its 2015 National Youth Survey that two major barriers prevent young people from voting: motivation and access. Other reasons have been identified: less interest in Canadian politics, the belief that the vote does not make a difference, the belief that the government does not care what it thinks, and the tendency to consider the vote as a choice rather than a duty. Young voters also did not receive voter information cards, were less aware of how to register and vote, and found voting too difficult.

Candidates typically narrow their youth issues, focusing only on lower tuition fees, activists say, but young people are interested in a variety of causes, including the environment, housing, affordability, jobs and wages.

Hillen said issues he would like to see the parties address include affordable housing, rising costs of living, mental health, education, climate change and Indigenous issues.

“I know the NDP has a very good plan,” he said. “I would like to see them put the plan in motion and not wait. Do everything you can.

Earlier this month, more than 70 people gathered in downtown Hamilton for a rally sponsored by the Justice4Work campaign to support various ideas such as decent work, a higher minimum wage and paid sick leave. These are issues they say are supported by the NDP and fought by the Progressive Conservatives, while the Liberals support some of the issues – such as paid sick leave and protection for gig workers. For the Green Party, there are more question marks than answers, except that the party endorses paid sick leave.

Future Majority, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit youth civic engagement organization, says on its website that it wants to make sure politicians start paying attention to young voters who make up about 40% of voters. ‘electorate. He says candidates are not looking out for young people, a strategy that has led to a decline in youth voter turnout.

He also endorses lowering the voting age to 16 to ensure youth issues are taken into account by politicians.