The Liberal Party’s Steve Powrie unseated Cathy McLeod and is the new MP for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Riding – if it were up to the 32 underage youth who casted ballots in a mock vote in 100 Mile House coinciding with the federal election last week.
The Liberals won 31 per cent of the vote; the NDP was second with 28 per cent; the Conservatives were third with 22 per cent; and the Green Party won 19 per cent in the Student Vote at the Youth Zone in 100 Mile House, which took place Oct. 14-16.
The parallel election for students under the voting age wasn’t really about winners or losers, however, but part of a Canada-wide program facilitated by a non-partisan organization, CIVIX, which tries to engage youth in the political process.
Kira Mitchell says she helped organize the local vote as a more interactive way to engage youth in voting, politics, and campaign issues at the federal and local level.
“We all know adults are interested in talking about political issues and things like that, but voting for young adults is so low [38.8 per cent for ages 18–24 in 2011]. It’s a great way to provide experience and exposure and familiarize youth with the process of voting. It’s pretty intimidating going into the real voting stations.”
An official-looking Elections Canada cardboard ballot box and voting screen were set up in the popular youth hangout on Taylor Way beside Highway 97, and a big map of the electoral ridings across the country was tacked to the wall beside a chalkboard listing the names of federal party leaders and local candidates in their respective party’s colourful screed, below the question “Who will you vote for?”
The initiative helped open up discussion topics, Mitchell says, specifically sparking conversations about youth employment, different levels of government, minimum wage and legalizing marijuana.
“We can further the discussion, bringing the discussion they would have with their circle of friends to a higher level: why the government wants to or why it doesn’t want to and how it affects taxes. [Opening up] a whole bunch of different perspectives on the issues.”
Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School also took part in the Student Vote.
Of the 115 votes cast at the local high school, Powrie took 45 per cent, Bill Sundhu of the NDP took 21 per cent; McLeod had 20 per cent; and Matt Greenwood of the Green Party had 13 per cent.