By Jaclyn Mika
Ryerson got its first look at Martha Hall Findlay last Friday.
If you’re thinking “Martha Who?” you’re not alone. Findlay’s claim to fame is nearly beating Belinda Stronach in the 2004 election — she came 689 votes short. She then stepped aside as the Liberal candidate for her riding of Newmarket-Aurora when Stronach changed her political stripes.
She has never held a seat in the House of Commons, but is running for the leadership of the Liberal party. Findlay, a lawyer who studied at the University of Toronto, is the first person to officially declare her candidacy in a race that, so far, has seen more dropouts than contenders. The speech to a small crowd of mostly Ryerson Young Liberals on Friday was, Findlay said, as much a chance to listen as to campaign.
“I’m glad to see that there’s at least one candidate paying attention to campus clubs,” said Danny Lindenas, a first-year student and member of the Ryerson Young Liberals. “I think (students are) often glossed over because they don’t vote and I think that’s part of the reason they don’t vote.”
The group’s president said that could change if other candidates take Findlay’s lead. “There are about 20 names floating about, a lot from Ontario, I suspect they’ll be banging down our door,” Jay Telegdi, president of Ryerson Young Liberals, said.
He said he hopes all candidates take a grassroots approach and support youth and student organizations. “We represent a huge portion of the Liberal party and it would be counterintuitive to ignore us,” he said.
The stigma that young people are apathetic about politics also came up during Findlay’s speech. Voter apathy is “one of the reasons Canada is a great place to live” because it reflects a variety of opinions on the political scene, she said.
But she would like young Canadians to become involved in areas such as the environment and education. “What you hear from everyone, not just Liberals… is that no one has a vision anymore,” she said.
Rather, she said, the prevalent message seems to be “Vote Liberal because we want to keep the scary guys out.” Findlay said her goal is to make people want to vote for the Liberals, not against the Conservatives.
She said she came to Ryerson because she wants to know what young voters think. She also said she was looking for ideas and enthusiasm — but she wouldn’t say No to people looking to help with her campaign.