Follow-up: Boost the youth vote

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Organizers with Future Majority hope to continue the upward trend in youth voting on Monday.

THUNDER BAY – As young people contemplate an uncertain climate and economic future, they have more reasons than ever to vote, says Simran Bedi.

Organizer of Future Majority in Thunder Bay, Bedi helped organize youth outreach ahead of Monday’s federal election.

She hopes the group’s efforts will help continue a trend of increasing youth voter turnout.

An international student from India, Bedi said that even though she couldn’t vote – at least not yet – she still had a stake in the outcome.

“I am an international student and I cannot participate in the vote, but I still find myself affected by everything the politicians in this country have to decide,” she said. “This is one of the reasons I got involved.”

The group reached out to local youth through in-person solicitations and online “house parties”.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not made their work easier.

“It has certainly been a challenge to get the engagement online,” Bedi said, although some of the virtual events have proven to be popular.

Nationally, Future Majority – a non-profit, non-partisan group supported by the David Suzuki Foundation and Environmental Defense Canada, interviewed leaders on topics important to young people and provided their responses. available online.

This is all so that young people can make an “informed and educated decision” and see the importance of their vote, Bedi said.

“Personally, I have the impression that whatever party is in power, it has an effect on the students and the youth population. I wanted to be more educated and help more people know their rights, why they should vote.

She said young people appeared interested in this election, with issues such as affordability, racial justice, climate change and an uncertain economic future in mind.

She said the issue of climate change resonates more and more as young people begin to see the impacts, like the increased risk of wildfires, firsthand.

Those aged 18 to 34 made up about 26% of eligible voters in Thunder Bay in 2019. While this is an impressive constituency, young people tend to vote in much lower numbers.

It can change, so slowly.

The turnout of Canada’s youngest electoral population, 18 to 24, reached an all-time high of 57% in the 2015 election, an impressive jump from 38.8% in 2011.

The figure fell to 54% in 2019, although the participation of older millennials aged 25 to 34 continued to grow, exceeding 58%.

Youth participation is still lower than the participation of older Canadians, which topped 79% for those 65 to 74 in 2019.

Politicians may be taking note of the surge in youth voting: local town halls run by Future Majority have attracted participation from local MPs, MPPs and city leaders.

They can no longer afford to ignore Generation Y and Generation Z, said Bedi, with those groups now making up about 40 percent of the Canadian population.

She just hopes young people realize their potential to make an impact on the election – and act on it.

“We have the power to actually make a change,” she said. “We can’t do it by sitting at home – we have to make the effort to actually go and do our research, find out who we want to vote for and why we want to vote for them, and then vote on polling day.”

The group plans to continue canvassing ahead of Monday’s elections, hoping to mobilize at least 500 young people to vote.


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