When it comes to voting in a federal election, far too often young people in Canada give it a pass.
Elections Canada and all the federal parties hope to see that change this time around and according to a sampling of students at UBCO Wednesday, there may be a change, at least locally, this time around.
Several students interviewed said now that they are old enough to vote, they plan to exercise their franchise, and they are hearing the same from their friends.
“I’m definitely going to vote,” said Danielle Kyei, a 20-year-old arts student who showed up to hear what candidates running in the Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola ridings had to say at an all-candidate meet and greet session at the university Wednesday.
Kyei said while she plans to vote Liberal, she was interested in what all the candidates had to say about support for students and the arts.
And she said among her friends, and other young people she has spoken to, there appears to be a desire to have their voices heard in their election.
Across the room, Kelsey Shein, a 25-year-old third-year politics, philosophy and economics student said she is hearing the same thing from her friends.
Shein, who wore a button showing her support for Kelowna-Lake-Country Conservative candidate Ron Cannan, said for her the number one priority is the economy and jobs.
And she said she believes the Conservatives are the party best suited to deal with both od those issues.
“I think it has the best interests of Canadian at heart,” she said.
But the sense that young people will turn out in higher numbers to vote this time around was not shared by all the students in attendance.
Eddie Tat, a 20-year-old politics, philosophy and economics student who plans to vote for the first time Oct. 19, said talking to his friends, he does not see a huge desire by young people to vote.
And that, he said, is disappointing.
But he does not lay all the blame at the feet of disaffected young Canadians.
“The candidates themselves are not taking the initiative to see that student issues are being addressed,” said Tat, who said he plans to vote for Conservative in this election.
Meanwhile, at least one student at the UBCO event admitted while he plans to vote for the first time next month now that he is old enough to do so, he is still undecided about who to support.
Josh Fender, 20, said he went to the all-candidate’s meet and greet Wednesday to hear what all the candidates had to say.
“At this point I’m trying to figure out my values and which party best represents them,” he said.
Fender said his family has always voted NDP so while he’s familiar with that party, he wanted to hear what the Conservative, Liberal and Green candidate had to say and whether he wanted to vote for the party or specifically for the candidate regadless of the party he or she represents.
Fender said amongst his friends, different groups have different ideas about the value of voting, with some planning to do so while other question the impact their vote would have.