Last week, I attended the forum on Electoral Reform at Whitehorse Elementary, attended by about 40, or so, people.
The panel and moderator were made up mostly of politicians (NDP, Liberal and Green Party) and ex-teachers.
Everyone on the panel was above the age of 40. Both the Liberal and NDP nominees for Whitehorse Centre were there, but I noticed that there was no representation from recently acclaimed Yukon Party candidate Mike Nixon.
Topics included declining voter turnout, proportional representation and the lack of young voters at the polls.
Well, I just happened to be one of two people in the room who were between the ages of 18 and 25.
During the question-and-answer, I stood up and talked about the need to educate kids in high school about the importance of voting and explain to them how what you vote for can effect your life in a multitude of ways.
It’s one thing to teach you in Grade 11 about levels of government and the different ideals, but you really need to apply it to their lives. I asked the panel, “Why are you not targeting the youth in school by having forums where they can come and feel heard?”
I was rather disturbed by some of the answers I received from three members on the panel, two of whom are current or former educators and the other the leader of the NDP.
Bob Sharp told me that they are already doing these kinds of things in school through environmental programs. Liz Hanson told me that the schools basically don’t want them there. Well, if you’re the government then you control that now, don’t you?
Dave Stockdale questioned the value of an optional forum by questioning how many youth would opt not to go. Even better, he went one step further to suggest that if it meant no class, that kids would simply skip school. I think this is sad to hear from our educators. Are they not the ones who are supposed to inspire students and make them want to learn?
In 2004, my history teacher inspired us.
He reminded us every day how many days were left until we would write our BC provincial exam and how important it was. He refused to allow us to attend sporting events because we needed all the class time we could get.
One day near the end of the semester, he offered time for anyone who wanted to come in on a Saturday for some extra learning material from 9 a.m. to noon.
It was optional, but guess what? All but one of us showed up at 9 a.m. Saturday. That was because he inspired us and made us want to do well.
So, in response to Dave Stockdale, I think with the right teachers, kids would go and learn and apply things to their lives if there was a forum.
I have to applaud Don Roberts for addressing my question and stating that they should be talking with students and educating them on engaging in our political system.
The education system in the US isn’t the only one declining. When someone who is 20 today compares their education received in grade school to that of their parents you would see youth today have half the knowledge their parents did at the same levels. How can a panel tell me I am wrong, when I am a youth telling you what is wrong?
I did not have the knowledge about government, politics, the importance of being engaged in our democratic system and how it effects my life on a day-to-day basis until I met my husband.
So I know a huge part of my generation is living in a bubble, and not feeling like they need to question their surroundings yet. The question I ask now is, do politicians really want change?
Or is this just part of the shell game, to make them look better?
Hanson sounded pretty lacklustre on wanting change. They say knowledge is power and an informed electorate would be a scary thing for those in positions of power. Of all the people on the panel (eight of them) not one came with a solid idea or solution. Unfortunately, in true politician fashion, most just danced around questions all night.
Is that why everything is scripted in our legislative assembly?
There can be no surprises and no one really has to deal with anything. I am just waiting for the day someone goes rogue and asks something that isn’t on a piece of paper, and what will the government do?
They will have to think for once.
The world is constantly moving forward and as a nation and a territory we need to keep moving forward too. And that may mean electoral reform … I don’t know. What I do know is Stockdale’s idea of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” won’t fly. That is like saying if your “check engine” light on your vehicle doesn’t come on, that you never need to change your oil.
You are supposed to just keep driving until your engine stalls and the whole thing needs to be replaced. But hey, what do I know?
I am just a youth voter.