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Elections: Our Role in Democracy

The City of Vancouver recently had a civic election. You most likely saw the campaign signs along the highway, then one day the signs disappeared and the election was over. What happened? And why should we care about what happened? If students aren’t of legal age to vote, why should the political scene matter to us? Although it may seem like students do not have a decision to make, there is more to democracy than the casting of a ballot.

Elections motivate us to decide on what is important. Developing opinions on the way our society should be governed is not only preparing us for when we do cast our ballot, but it is also another way to participate. Democracy is all about public discussion and debate, something that everyone is welcome to participate in.

To participate in these types of discussion, however, we need to have an opinion. So where exactly do we, as Collingwood students, not of the voting age yet, get the majority of out political influence from?

It is likely that many of us often watch humorous references about politics on television. Most of these satirical shows are American (for example, Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show with John Stewart), and are primarily for entertainment purposes. If this is our only source of political information then we are surely misinformed. Moreover, one can argue that we may not take politics too seriously because of the way we are exposed to it on television, as if it is a joke or something to laugh at.

In addition, and without a doubt, we are also politically influenced by our parent’s ideals. We have been raised under their values, therefore we usually inherit some of their beliefs. We are similar to our parents in many ways, including the way we think about politics.

But the question remains, what is important to you? If you don’t yet know, maybe that’s something you need to think about. Though you may not be of the voting age, a time will come when it will be your responsibility to voice what you think and participate.

One opportunity to engage in local politics is to become a member of Vancouver’s District Student Council. The VDSC’s mandate is to provide student input in the planning and decision-making of the District. It is also an opportunity for students to develop leadership skills, work collaboratively with students from other schools on pertinent educational issues, to contribute to the Vancouver School District and to learn about decision-making and policy development.

So, the next time you see those political signs, take some time to think about who you would vote for. Whether it is federal, provincial, or a municipal election is it important to pay attention to what is going on in the world around you. This will help you to cast an informed ballot when you’re finally of the age to vote on election day.

By: Lucas Philipp

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