Canada needs the youth vote, report says

Sep 18, 2012 | News

Canada’s Democracy Week is an Elections Canada initiative to engage youth voters which runs from Sep. 15-22. COURTESY Earl Andrew/Wikimedia Commons

By Alex Lambert

A new push is on to get young voters in Canada more involved in the system, and more interested in casting ballots.

It all stems from a new report that was released Monday by Canada’s Public Policy Forum and Elections Canada, coinciding with Canada’s Democracy Week, which runs from Sep. 15-22.

“Engaging young Canadians is key to maintaining a healthy democracy. As leaders, educators or parents, we each have a role to play in fostering civic participation among youth,” said Canada’s chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand in a release from Public Policy Forum.

The report is meant to encourage governments, the private sector, student leaders, student organizations, the media and educators to collectively discuss these issues, and to eventually formulate ideas to better educate and engage Canadian youth voters.

“I think in terms of establishing a concrete way forward, what we really need to be looking for is ways to create more of these opportunities to share perspectives and to share ideas on how people can work together,” Ryan Conway, a Public Policy Forum project leader told Humber News.

“We see the key next step as having a lot more opportunities to have conversations like these and really launch some specific work,” he said.

Youth voter disengagement is influenced by a number of things like  socioeconomic factors, education and to what demographics young people belong, Conway said

It’s less about alienation and disinterest and more about “motivational barriers,” Conway said.

“It’s not what’s causing people to not vote, it’s what isn’t giving them the motivation to vote.”

Conway said that if this new approach catches on, there would be great benefit to young voters in Canada.

“For youth, I think you’re going to see a more responsive and a more appropriate attitude among those who take this up as to how to relate to them.”

According to Elections Canada, 38.8 per cent of voters aged 18-24 participated in the 2011 federal election, and only 45.1 per cent of voters aged 25-34 participated.