The student elections for the provincial government are yet another important event our school hosts for its students. I spoke to Mme. Sandapen, a civics and careers teacher who ran this event.
The results provided by Mme. Sadapen for the Ontario Student Votes:
The province-wide results from the 124 ridings in Ontario.
- Number of participating schools: 1,672
- Votes reported: 252,680
Students elected an NDP majority government and the Liberals formed the official opposition.
NDP: 75 seats, 29% of the vote
Liberal: 28 seats, 22% of the vote
PC: 17 seats, 19% of the vote
Green: 4 seats, 16% of the vote
Our school had a 53.6% turnout at the polls. NDP led by Joel Harden won with an astounding 45.8% of votes followed by Liberals led by Katie Gibbs at 19.1% and the green party at 9.2%.
Below are some questions I asked Mme. Sandapen regarding the importance of participation in the student elections, barriers youth face and improvements, the importance of civics and the Gen-Z generations take on politics and what we want to see that might differ from adults.
Firstly we addressed the importance for youth to be informed and participate in the student elections. She mentioned that “as future voters, they should be encouraged to learn about politics in Canada, the government and the electoral process. It is important to teach and encourage students to research their choice of candidates and political parties, and make informed decisions that are not based on personal biases, or influenced by others.” She resumed key takeaways such as in a democratic country like Canada the most effective way to let our voices be heard on issues that matter to us, is to vote. In her words, “Helping students to understand those important decisions made every day by the government on behalf of the citizens of our country, will motivate them to exercise their right to vote in future elections and elect candidates and political parties whose political values align with their own.”
Secondly, Mme. Sandapen discussed any barriers that youth face or improvements that could be made. She touched on the lack of knowledge and personal interest in politics, and the government and that voting was low with the younger demographic. For one, students don’t feel that the government is inquiring into the issues youth care about. Through education in civics for grade 10 students, voting through Student Council and Student Votes Canada during the provincial or federal elections we can better our understanding of democracy, the decision-making processes and the role of government in our life. Mme. Sandapen mentioned improvements could be made by organizing activities and events outside the Civics class which will give a platform to discuss civics and political issues that matter to the student body. By giving more opportunities to get involved outside the school, students could help to improve their neighbourhood, other communities, or any social and charitable organizations.
Thirdly, she elaborated on the importance of taking Civics and Careers in grade 10. Civics helps students to act proactively and fulfil duties and responsibilities as informed citizens to help reinforce values in a democratic society where voting is a right and a privilege. We learn that our voices carry more weight than any politician by voting a government in and out of office. In Civics, students learn the values of democracy, the fundamental rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in a democratic society, and under the Canadian Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. As well as learning about how the different branches of government work together to pass laws for the common good of all citizens. The awareness of the current civics and political issues (such as climate change, reconciliation and refugees) prepares students to solve or cope with several complex and sensitive issues in the future.
Lastly, Mme. Sandapen noted that the Gen-Z generation has different priorities on issues compared to their adult counterparts such as climate change, mental health, racism and all forms of discrimination, and education. Adult voters also care about these but others, such as affordable housing, health care, child care and the economy. Youth are concerned that Canada is the only G7 country that has a rise in greenhouse gas emissions since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Students hope the government takes immediate and long-lasting actions on climate change, and global warming, and passes new laws to reinforce the existing Anti-Racism Act. To dismantle systemic racism and all forms of discrimination faced by minorities and marginalized groups in Canada. Including providing more funding and resources to make college and university education more accessible to students, and the growing mental health issues.
All things considered, educating students, and giving them more opportunities to learn about democracy will benefit the future generations of proactive citizens so they can voice their concerns on the future of politics.