By Tristan Turner
Youth are the non-youth of tomorrow – the gateway to our future. It is entirely in our hands to build the world of tomorrow, and the appropriate time to begin the discussion on what that world should look like is now. It is not only important for youth to begin to have their voice heard in the Canadian political system; it is necessary for a healthy democracy to flourish.
The national Canadian demographic is aging rapidly, and that means that youth will be forced out of the democratic franchise if we are not to organize a sizable youth political presence. Apathy is no longer an option. Being involved in the legislative process is crucial to ensure that we, as youth, are not misrepresented.
There are some encouraging developments in the realm of youth political engagement. For example, the current average age of the NDP caucus federally is 47, and in recent days many more youth are stepping up to the plate to ensure they are being adequately represented. In fact, at the Alberta NDP convention that was held over the Sept. 21 weekend, active membership in the New Democratic Youth of Alberta (an organization representing youth activists in the Alberta NDP) more than doubled.
This, however, is not enough. All too often, youth remain disengaged from the political process. In fact, in the previous federal election only 38.8 percent of youth aged 18 to 24 voted. Less than half of my fellow young Canadians opted to take part in one of their most basic and crucial duties as Canadians.
It is youth who will be ultimately responsible for changing these apathetic tendencies. It is our responsibility to take advantage of the free and fair electoral system our nation holds, and begin to mold the future of our society.
I understand how daunting it may seem to the average high school student to begin to build knowledge about and to become involved in our political system. However, apathy is boring. Few youth actually realize how exhilarating and rewarding it is to stand up for their beliefs and fight to build the parliamentary reputation they wish to see.
Along the way in my political engagement process I have made so many caring, compassionate and wonderful friends. I fought for a campaign and a vision so much larger than myself. And I have found a purpose and direction for my life. Fighting for change that I believe will benefit everyday Canadians.
So regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I encourage all fellow young Canadians to get involved in our political system. For it is our responsibility to become active in shaping public policy and to begin building the nation we want to live in.
A group of motivated, well-informed and dedicated youth can – and will – change our nation, and there truly is no better time for you to be a part of that change. So, vote, join a political party, and start advocating for your interests and the interests of all of those too square to get involved.
If this gaping hole of inactivity and disinterest is not filled rapidly, we are going to encounter serious issues in the coming decades as well as immediate negative consequences. If youth are not present to be active in their support of political issues that concern them, then these issues will become irrelevant to policy makers.
Together, youth can become a powerful voice for change in our society. All we need to do is seize the power that is already in our hands.