OTTAWA, CANADA: Young Canadians wanting change after nine years of the Conservatives under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper played a key role in electing Justin Trudeau and his Liberals four years ago.
Back then, he was young, energetic, seemed in tune with their needs and he promised to tackle climate change, legalise marijuana and reform Canada’s first-past-the-post electoral system.
The trouble for the 47-year-old Trudeau now, pollsters say, is that these same voters are now frustrated after a series of Liberal scandals as well as the government’s decision to buy an oil pipeline in an attempt to shore up Canada’s key fossil fuels industry. The party is in a statistical tie with the opposition Conservatives in polls ahead of Monday’s general election.
According to those opinion polls, however, 18-to-29-year-olds who plan on voting Liberal was at 27 per cent, down from 38 per cent in August.
In this year’s election, 18-to-34-year-olds account for nearly a quarter of all Canadians eligible to cast ballots. Elections Canada, which oversees federal votes, has said it plans to nearly quadruple the number of temporary on-campus stations to 121 from 39 to encourage more youth to vote.
Gulf News visited Algonquin College, a third-level educational institution in Ottawa, to talk to students on what mattered to them. Here’s a selection of what some had to say:
“The big election issues in my mind are climate change and immigration. Climate change, primarily, because there’s a lot of concern about greenhouse gases and emissions, the future of our planet and what we’re going to leave for our children. And immigration, because in the previous year, there was a lot of concern about unregulated border crossings and things like that. For me, those are the top issues this election.”
“I believe the biggest issues in this federal election are climate change and debt. There’s a lot of movement with climate change now. There are young activists that are drawing a lot of attention, there are strikes going on as well. And debt, because Canada is in a lot of debt now, and all of the politicians in their debates talk about balancing the budget. I believe it’s a much-talked about issue.”
“I think the biggest issues of the federal election are climate change, [Ottawa’s] Light Rapid Transit. I’m going to vote at my local polls and I’m going to check the name off for the one I’m going to vote for. I will vote. There are two parties now vying for victory. I’m not going to predict who will win.”
“The two biggest things about the federal election are climate change and student debt. We definitely need to focus on those two things.”
“I believe that the biggest issue in the election today is the climate. We are dangerously close to getting to the point where we’re not going to be able to do something about it. It’d be really good if we got leaders in there who stated doing something on it now.”
“I think one of the biggest issues in the federal election is not knowing what policies are and choosing based on personality. It’s really important to know the policies for the candidates and agree on that.”
“I believe that the biggest problem in the federal election is lack of interest. There are a lot of students and the general public who don’t have an interest in politics and because of they, they are ignorant, and go in and vote for whoever they feel is nicest. It’s a lack of interest and a lack of motivation.”
“Important issues in the election for me would be the environment. Things need to be done. Also, help for students, whether it’s housing or grants — that would be amazing.”