Dartmouth High school students meet with Canadian Prime Minister

by Teens Now Talk May 24, 2013

The youth of Dartmouth High School spent the afternoon with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau during his visit to Halifax on May 24, 2013

The energy was high as several youth stepped to the microphone with some well-constructed questions addressing youth issues, covering topics like homophobia, the environment and education just to name a few.

Stephanie, a student in 11th grade, impacted the packed auditorium when she approached the microphone and spoke her question. “I hear extensive talk today about the young people in Canada having the power to vote and make a change,” asked Stephanie. “We need encouragement, we need motivation from our political parties to make that change. My question is, what is the liberal party of Canada offering to us, the coming-of-age voters?”

“How do we get young people more interested in voting?” answered Trudeau. “Well you, the youth, represent a constituency like any other. You have concerns around if education is something you can afford if you move on to post-secondary, Interested in having a job market that will actually allow you to success and move on in your life.

On one level, politicians need to talk more about issues that are of importance to the youth, but it’s not just about picking the right issues. It’s also in the way we engage with the youth. This generation is about immediate feedback. You send me a tweet, you want to know I read it, you send me an email or an idea, you want to know that there is action on it. Young people want to feel that the people who are making decisions in your name and with your vote are actually accountable and engaged with you on an ongoing basis.

We need a give-and take-model where citizens understand that we have the tools to be part of the difficult decisions that have to be made, and getting young people involved means, not just as politicians, putting forward short-term solutions. Young people today are worrying about big global issues, human rights, social justice, climate change, issues without easy solutions, that we have to demonstrate continued dedication and engagement in order to be taken seriously.

Voting is a deeply committed, engaging act. Voting is an important thing that is meaningful and connected, and we need to build on it that.”

Helping youth to Understand, YOU can change shape the world with your vote and that means something … that’s the way we can get more young people involved.

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