It’s election season in Ontario again, the event that brings politicians to the streets every four years to make a multitude of promises and berate each other’s character. This year, I turned 18 and I will be voting in this month’s provincial election, however not enthusiastically. Unfortunately, many students share the same viewpoint and choose not to cast a ballot. But why? Historically, young people have always been at the center of protests and revolutions so why the apathy today?
We as students care about many different issues and come from a wide range of political backgrounds but the issue of rising tuition fees and debt is a concern takes precedence for many. Politicians are keen to play to these issues at election time, offering gimmicks with few substantial details. Too often, these discussions about education on the campaign trail rarely become legislation. With a limited amount of time and money, when students see the current political climate and how they are ignored, they choose to enter into a dangerous cycle of apathy, in which, with students ignoring the democratic process, and politicians continuing to disregard the views of the students.
We do not want politicians to cave to the educational policies of the left or the right, all we are asking for is to be taken seriously. Politicians and students alike must realize that if this does not happen, the future of our democracy is at risk.
I am 20, jaded as hell, and completely unmoved by Canadian politics. Students my age harbour some pretty strong sentiments regarding government and public affairs, whereas I am far too lazy to educate myself about anything related to it. This leaves me feeling pretty detached from the whole election scene. Do I care? Not really — but I’m beginning to think that I probably should.
12 years ago, I saw Dalton McGuinty’s campaign commercials on television. “Mom,” I said, “if I could vote, I’d vote for him. I like his face.” Boy, I was a horribly superficial kid back then, unaware that there was more to elections than winsome smiles. Now, it’s a decade later, and I have that chance to show my support for the politician I admired the most for his childlike charm.
Sorry, Dalton, but I’ve decided that you’re not getting my vote. Although I haven’t grown out of my facetiousness quite just yet, I’m pretty happy that I can finally see past your glowing smile. This election means nothing to me, but I’ve learned one valuable lesson: I will never show my support for a candidate based on their personal appearance ever again. And considering the state of politics now, maybe that’s a lesson we all need to learn.
This election campaign has been an exercise in mediocrity. Liberal leader and current Premier Dalton McGuinty has done a decent job defending his record but done little beyond that to prove that his party’s candidates deserve our vote. Likewise, New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath has spent more time trying to convince us that it is time for new leadership at Queen’s Park than explaining what she would do with it. Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has done even worse by running an almost entirely negative campaign since the beginning of September. One of them may have what it takes to run Ontario, but none of them has come close to demonstrating it.
During the campaign, no leader has shown that they can tackle the big issues that face Ontario in the next four years, namely its large deficit and the prospect of continued tough economic times. It may be that that will be to their advantage if, as many are now predicting, Ontarians elect a minority government on October 6 since the leaders will have committed to little.
However, it exposes a profound weakness in our democracy if we are unable to tackle the issues that concern us most during our election campaigns. No matter who forms the next government, Ontarians should hope that they are better able to engage with the problems facing Ontario than they have during this campaign.