Welcome back students! Over the next few weeks, university students will be flocking back to Halifax for the new school year. I look forward to having the opportunity to connect with students at Mount Saint Vincent and at schools in Halifax West.
Over the summer, I and my colleagues in the Liberal caucus have been focusing on issues impacting youth in Canada. We are very concerned about high unemployment for people under 30, and cuts to Katimavik, the Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth Program and the Youth Justice Services Program. If we're going to build public support for programs aimed at young people, we need to get young people involved in the political process. We need to encourage them to speak out about the issues that are important to them. We know young Canadians have the lowest voter turnout and are less likely to be join a political party. This needs to change.
I've been pleased to see high school and university students at my last few Let's Talk town hall meetings. These students were well informed and offered a unique perspective on issues such as copyright, education and foreign affairs. I hope I'll continue to see more students at future Let's Talk meetings. And I hope they will consider getting more involved in the political process.
Here are the top five reasons I think young people could benefit from getting involved:
1) Be the change - If you want to see a change in government policies that reflect your views, you need to get involved in the policy development process. You can be part of making Halifax an even better place to live.
2) Don't be ignored - I sometimes hear from young people that they feel governments don't listen to them and don't pay attention to the issues they care about. They feel ignored. If more young people came out to vote and spoke out about cuts to youth programs or high education costs, governments will notice and react.
3) Learn leadership and life skills - Organizing a rally or letter writing campaign - or taking a position on the executive of the local arm of a political party or its youth wing - can help teach you skills that will be valuable in your career, no matter what profession you choose.
4) Connect with peers - Not only will you meet like minded people who share your goals, you may also make life-long friends.
5) Support your community - Politics is about working together to solve problems and strengthen communities. Vital government programs like medicare and free public education exist because of people's political engagement.
Young people can get involved in the political process by voting in elections, writing to your representatives, attending public meetings, volunteering on a campaign or with a community organization or joining a political party. You can make a difference.
If you have suggestions about how I can help encourage young people to participate in the political process, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 426-2217.