The majority of undergraduate students in Toronto plan to vote in the next federal election. But these same students don’t know who currently represents them in the House of Commons.
A recent poll jointly conducted by Ryerson University’s School of Journalism and department of politics and public administration indicates that three out of five undergraduate students in Toronto are either “likely” or “very likely” to vote in the next federal election. The same poll also indicates that nearly 70 per cent of Toronto undergraduates don’t know the name of their current member of Parliament.
The poll surveyed 1,151 undergraduate students at Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, OCAD University and George Brown College. The poll is accurate to within plus or minus 2.3 to 2.87 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
These numbers indicate the civic engagement of young Ontarians is closer to the rest of Ontario than other young Canadians. According to Elections Canada data, voter turnout in Ontario for the 2011 federal election was at 57.9 per cent. In contrast, national voter turnout for voters aged 18-24 was only at 38.8 per cent.
Fifty-nine per cent of Toronto undergraduates surveyed indicated they plan to vote in the next federal election. But despite this interest in voting, 68 per cent of those surveyed don’t know who their current MP is.
“Many students move in order to go to university, and so part of that relocation… is that their MP may change,” says Benjamin Stevens, a fourth-year undergraduate student at Ryerson studying politics and governance.
Stevens argues that election coverage doesn’t help this statistic either.
“MPs do not actually have that much autonomy from their party, so it is party politics that gets the fore in reporting,” he says.