CENTRAL OKANAGAN - Candidates from both local ridings delivered a youth-oriented message to a couple of hundred UBC Okanagan students during the first all candidates forum in Kelowna.
And while voter apathy amongst youth is a long-standing issue, you would be hard pressed to find a more engaged group of young people than the crowd which turned out Wednesday to hear what the candidates had to say.
“I truly haven't truly figured out where my ideas and values lie. I feel by coming out to something like this I can figure out where my idea and opinions would be best represented by a political party,” Clinton Mix says.
The third-year political science student says the event was well worth it, narrowing down his choice of candidates.
“I’m glad I talked to Ron Cannan," Mix says. "He didn’t answer my questions the way I liked so that solidifies the idea that I won’t be voting Conservative."
Laurence Watt says voter apathy amongst all ages, not just youth, is a concern.
“I’m passionate about politics. I came here today to talk to the candidates and see what they have to offer us,” Watt says.
“But another reason I came here is I feel in Kelowna there is a high degree of political apathy and I’d really like to see that change so I do think its terrific we have all the candidates here talking about the issues," he says.
Watt is also a political science student and says the candidates forum helped clarify for him the differences between the party platforms.
"I think there is a very clear difference in the selection," he says. "The NDP, the LIberals, the Conservatives they are offering different solutions to the problems we have, which are many."
“I was very pleased to talk about issues like bill C-51 and stuff to do with B.C.’s Coast Guard so I definitely feel better about going home and deciding who to vote for," Watt says.
The candidates from Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola generally offered a youth-centred message during the forum but also touched on such hot button issues as bill C-51, the environment, the legal status of marijuana and the state of Canada’s economy.
Liberal candidate Karly Scott offered perhaps the most direct youth-centric message.
“I believe in investing in youth and that a small invested pays off. It’s going to pay dividends. The youth employment strategy under a Liberal government is going to come back. It’s going to invest in things like incentives for employers paying the percentage of a co-op wage so it’s not such a burden for employers to bring on a young person,” Scott said. “I believe in investing in youth and I believe in investing in Canada."
Conservative incumbent Dan Albas told the crowd what ever happens in the election, young people need to stay engaged.
“I know there’s often times a lot of hysteria coming out of Ottawa, no matter who wins the election,” Albas said. "So not only should you vote, you should also connect with members of parliament, share your views and concerns and allow us an opportunity to address those concerns, whether that’s through discussion locally or through legislation in Ottawa."
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