By Sarah Krichel
Ryerson students’ voices will be heard by the Parliament’s special committee on electoral reform.
There have been no youth-oriented events in terms of electoral reform, and changes coming to the voting system should consider their voices as they will have to live with it for the longest, according to Katelynn Northam, Leadnow electoral reform campaigner.
The town hall was hosted in collaboration with the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU), the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) and Leadnow, an independent political advocacy organization.
“Young people have a lot of really pressing concerns that are really long-term issues that they want to see addressed, and with the new voting system we could see those issues addressed by collaboration between parties,” said Northam.
Canada is one of last Western countries to be using the first-past-the-post system, and it’s good that the current government is finally addressing that, she added.
Nation-wide discussion about electoral reform will continue to take place until Oct. 7, which is the last day the government will accept reports from Leadnow to hear youth’s opinions in the political realm. The committee is made up of all political parties, and they’re currently studying electoral reform.
“We’d like to see changes to the overall atmosphere and decorum of parliament. We’d like to see a system where parties collaborate more and work together across party lines to make an impact on the issues that really matter to young people,” Northam said. “We will let them know exactly what people in Toronto think about electoral reform,” Northam said.
Northam added that women and individuals of different backgrounds are poorly represented in government, and this needs to be addressed as well.
Jasmine Wong Denike, president of the University of Toronto Students’ Union said that hearing voices across the country regarding electoral reform will help in the process.
“We have a very diverse group of people here, so the best outcome I can think of is having a really thorough report that Leadnow accumulates with a lot of help from this event just to have different perspectives vocalized in that report,” said Wong Denike.
Victoria Morton, RSU v.p. education who consulted Leadnow and UTSU in the summer for the event, said that based on the event’s turnout, youth’s overall political apathy was disproven.
“We need to consistently remind the politicians that we are a big force, we are a huge demographic if we turn out to vote, and if we do, I think education will be prioritized in a way we’ve never seen before.”