Note: This is my latest submission for the CBC Your Take blog.
Put yourself in the shoes of the campaign manager of a major political party in a federal election. What are the three main topics that interest the Student Union of your local college? What three topics are the ones that most resonate with postsecondary students? This afternoon told me that there is a good chance your first guesses would be very wrong.
Yukon College Student Association hosted the first All Candidates forum in the riding today. The format was three main questions, followed by questions from the floor. The three topics that most interested the Student Council and formed the framework of the questions, in order, were:
- The environment,
- The monopoly owner of internet, telephone and cellular service, and,
- Electoral reform
Some of the questions from the floor that emerged were those things we would expect from students, such as the proposed RESP credit that makes up part of the Liberal party platform. Homelessness and housing were other expected topics, and given our housing situation in Whitehorse, this was not suprising. However, the wait time for orthopedic surgery was another concern from the floor, as was declining staffing in environmental monitoring offices in the north.
There were some differences in the answers from the candidates, although the extent to which their answers applied to the questions may have not been as much as possible. Most of the times, the candidates did agree, in principle, with the other candidates.
Some different things showed up. There was a difference from usual candidate events because, due to scheduling problems, the Conservative candidate appeared via internet videoconference. This worked quite well, by the way.
But, the biggest thing that came from today’s forum was an incredibly important point. Comparing the interests of the students with the campaign advertising for each of the parties shows a huge discrepancy. These same parties, as a rule, decry the low levels of youth engagement in voting. Therefore, it seems to me that there should have been a huge lesson learned at the College today. Hopefully, the major political parties are “academically inclined” enough to learn it…