On October 21, people across Canada will head to the polls to cast their vote in the federal election. The youth vote can make a big difference: in this election, millennials are the biggest bloc of eligible voters at 37%.
But Abacus Data research commissioned by Girl Guides of Canada and nine other youth-serving organizations found that in the past 12 months, almost half of Canada’s youth have not had a conversation about politics or political issues.
Getting youth engaged with the election can have a huge impact. To get inspired, we talked to three Girl Guides of Canada members who are engaged and excited to be voting in a federal election for the first time. Sarah Harrison, 21, is voting in the Halifax riding. Carly Russell, 21, is voting in Banff-Airdrie. And Amy Topshee, 18, is voting in Vancouver.
Why are you excited to vote in a federal election for the first time?
“I’m excited to vote in this election because I feel like my voice is going to be heard. For the first time, I am no longer sitting on the sidelines of these conversations that matter.” – Carly
“I was just a couple of months away from turning 18 during the last federal election. So, I have been waiting for a while for the opportunity to vote for the first time! I am excited to be able to have my say in who I want to represent my riding and, indirectly, lead the country.” – Sarah
What do you think the most important issue should be in the federal election?
“I believe that climate change is the most important issue of the federal election. Science has been telling us that we are facing a climate crisis, and if we do not take action now then we will face disastrous effects including but not limited to more frequent natural disasters, a rise in health problems, and economic disruption. I think that Canada could and should be a climate leader.” – Amy
“Honestly, the most important issue of this election in my opinion is the federal government’s relationship with the provincial governments! This might be my inner Albertan answering this part; however, we need to look at how we are helping each other! Canada and its provinces needs each other in order to thrive, and so we need to make sure our relationships are stronger.” – Carly
Why do you think it’s important for girls and young women to be engaged with and informed about the election?
“Girls and young women need to vote in this election because it is 2019 and our voices matter! Equality is something that we as a country can work towards but change first starts with young women getting out and voting this year.” – Carly
“The young adult voter turnout has historically been significantly lower than the voter turnout overall. As young people, we have the ability to make our votes heard in this election, but in order to do that we need to get informed and then actually vote!” – Sarah
“I think it’s important for all people to get engaged and informed about politics, even if they can’t vote yet! Even those who are too young to vote should voice their opinions.” – Amy
Do you have a message for other young people who are eligible to vote for the first time?
“Do not take our right to vote for guaranteed! Many people around the world do not have the right to vote and influence the politics of their county. I am only able to vote thanks to the trailblazing women who came before me. To show my appreciation for all of their hard work I must exercise my democratic rights.” – Amy
“My message would be to go and vote! Don’t think that just because there are a lot of voters your vote doesn’t matter. It does! Take some time to research the issues that are important to you and check the Elections Canada website for your voting options.” – Sarah
“Politics isn’t just the ‘old boys club’! Form your own opinions and be ready to change the world. Change starts with girls!” – Carly
Election day is October 21. To find information about your riding, candidates, and when and where to vote, visit Elections Canada.
Sarah Harrison is a Brownie Guider and a student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS.
Carly Russell is a Brownie and Ranger Guider in Calgary, AB who is passionate about all things politics.
Amy Topshee is currently a bridging member in Vancouver, BC. Throughout her 13 years in Guiding, she has travelled to Switzerland, Scotland, and Iceland, and served on the National Travel Committee.
Sarah, Carly, and Amy are all members of Wave Makers, GGC’s new youth spokesperson team.