How do we turn them on?

(Canscene) — In my last issue, I urged readers to learn about Canada’s World, the massive, ongoing study of our nation launched by Simon Fraser University.

Last month, Environics Research released the results of the first poll taken in that study. Some of the results were surprising, particularly regarding our relationships with the United States.

Although we have strong ties with the U.S. most Canadians strongly disapprove of their foreign policy, astoundingly naming the U.S. as the country with the most negative influence in the world. Fifty-two percent named the U.S. with Iran a distant second at 21 percent.

However, Canadians overwhelmingly support a Democratic government over a Republican by a margin of 7 to 1.

Young Canadians are more engaged in international issues than Canadian politics feeling we could do more to tackle environmental issues, issues in the developing world and human rights abuse worldwide.


Given that Democratic front-runners Obama and Clinton are attracting large followings of younger people, it seems that the youth vote in the U.S. will be very big next November.

Which makes one ask why in our own elections is the youth vote so low? How do we turn them on?

It’s likely to stay low unless our federal political parties rise to the challenge of young Canadians.

One Response to “How do we turn them on?”

  1. Bill Andersen Says:

    I believe that voter apathy (and not just among young people) stems partly from a feeling that one’s vote has no real effect. Choices seem limited to candidates for 2 or 3 parties and issues are carefully focussed to a narrow few.

    Elected officials seem to respond to vested interests and party whips more than than to their constituents. Most people don’t want to spend their lives lobbying, so they drop out.

    Another problem has to do with election promises. Based upon experience, many have noticed that such promises are little more than mouth noises, quickly cast aside after votes have been obtained. Reasons (or excuses) offered, such as “conditions have changed”, make little difference. Promises are broken and voters give up.

    Reduced standards of accountability must also take a toll on voter enthusiasm. Once upon a time, when a cabinets minister’s office screwed up, the minister would accept responsibility and resign. Now there is a tendency to pass the buck, blaming underlings or claiming ignorance. Not exactly inspiring behavior.

    My answer to your question; How do we turn them on? We elevate civic leaders who express their ideas and intentions clearly, who keep their word, accept responsibilty and make the public good a priority over those of private interests. We reject those who squabble and scheme for partisan advantage, parroting canned lines that are “on message”. We might also offer candidates who operate within the laws that they are sworn to uphold.