By Jacqueline Bradley and Samantha Crisp
There’s a game-changer in politics who wants Harper out of office, and her new strategy involves soliciting Ryerson students to help her reach her goal.
Ryerson University was the fourth stop in the Game Changers national tour on March 23. The campaign is visiting campuses across the country with their head-speaker Brigette DePape, the former Parliament Hill page best known for being fired after holding up a “Stop Harper” sign during the 2011 Senate Throne Speech.
DePape is working on the Game-Changers campaign with the Council of Canadians, which describes itself as the country’s leading social action organization. The campaign’s first goal is to collect 10,000 pledges, and as the election approaches, they will provide pledgers with information on the different parties’ platforms, how to vote, and where.
According to the Council of Canadians, In the the last federal election, in 2011, only one-third of people between the ages of 18 and 24 voted. DePape’s new strategy to “Stop Harper” is to encourage youth to vote in the next federal election, which is expected to take place in October.
DePape says that just over 6,000 votes in certain key ridings could have taken the Conservatives out of the majority government in the last election.
“We actually do have the power to change who is in government if enough of us come together and unite to vote,” says DePape. “I think that’s really empowering.”
According to students on campus, a lack of information and accessibility seem like the two main reasons not to vote in the upcoming election.
Second-year criminology student Thamara Jeyakumar says she knows she should vote, but doesn’t feel like she knows enough about Canadian politics to make an informed decision.
“I feel like I don’t know much about it. I feel ignorant about the topic,” she says.
Like many other students, Jeyakumar says that all of her time is consumed with school and work so there is no time left to learn about politics. Other students also mentioned that they like the way things are going with the current government and therefore don’t feel the need to vote.
“Let the government do more things that piss me off and maybe eventually I will vote,” says Hussien Jefferson, a computer-science graduate student.
Kevin Paul, fourth-year chemistry student, says he always plans on voting but never gets around to it.
Paul is hoping for more locations to vote around campus. Last election, there was a polling station set up in Ryerson’s Pitman Hall.
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is working with Elections Canada to make polling stations more accessible around campus. The union is also working on a campaign with the national Canadian Federation of Students called “It’s No Secret,” in order to collect pledges and provide students with information on the issues that directly affect them.
“Youth hold a tremendous amount of power in this upcoming election. We have an opportunity to make sure our voices are heard,” RSU-president Rajean Hoillet says.
“When we’re talking about things like tuition-fee increases or health care for international students, or rights for migrant workers, youth have an opportunity to impact all of these decisions.”