In our schools:
Let’s go, we’re voting!
Gatineau city council’s Youth Commission (Cj) has expanded its program aimed at attracting young people to the voting process.
The Commission, made up of 26 youths from high schools across the city, plus three councillors (Sylvie Goneau, Cedric Tessier and Mike Duggan), has held workshops in Secondary 5 classes to introduce the youths to city councillors. This program, C’est parti. Je vote!, has brought about 2,000 high school students into the political process, giving them the opportunity and impetus to question councillors on the city’s functioning and hear each one describe a difficult political decision each has taken in her/his career. These encounters likewise give the councillors an opportunity to hear what the youths have to say.
This election year, Cj is expanding the process. Youths will be able to participate in a city-wide simulated vote on November 2, with the results broadcast by Radio-Canada on election eve, November 5, once the polls have closed.
One step in the process is to profile the voters in this group. Aged 12 to 17, the 16,738 students are largely Francophone, from four school boards (8 schools, 2 being Anglophone) and three private schools. Aylmer’s share is made up of 1,100 students from Symmes-D’Arcy McGee and 1,797 from Grande-Rivière.
The project includes learning how to properly form a political opinion. The Commission will collect and forward student questions to the candidates, and Radio-Canada will provide teaching tools such as a political quiz and an electoral point-sheet.
In a video presented by the Commission, the city’s mayor identifies a widespread worry, “This program should be sent everywhere because there is a major problem affecting all democracies, the fact that people are not voting”.
Réseau vos oreilles. And that’s the overall hope, that this experience will go beyond the anecdotal and present something the youths will find believable and important to their own lives.