Students, some of them not even old enough to place their ballot in the upcoming election, filled the seats earlier this month for the To Vote or Not To Vote forum at the University of Winnipeg.
Shanelle Maytwayashing was among them. The 14-year-old attended the event with her grade nine class from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate.
“We’re here to learn more about voting as an aboriginal,” she said.
The afternoon event was intended to raise discussion on whether voting in elections threatens indigenous sovereignty. Professors Dr. Pam Palmater, Dr. Rob Innes and lecturer Leah Gazan lead the talk.
Tristan Henry also attended the forum for school.
“One of my professors posted [online] that it might be relevant to a class I’m taking called Social and Political Philosophy,” said Henry, 25.
Aboriginal engagement as well as youth interest in the Oct. 19 federal election is critical for candidates looking for an edge in what is shaping up to be a tight three way race.
The last federal election held in 2011 only had a 39 per cent voter turnout for ages 18 to 24, according to Statistics Canada.
Indigenous people’s tendency to vote, while fluctuating at various times across different regions in modern electoral history, is consistently lower than the voting likelihood of non-Indigenous Canadians.
The upcoming election date of Oct. 19 was determined by it being a maximum time of four years reached since the previous election.
Currently, the Conservatives hold 159 seats in Parliament, followed by the NDP with 95 seats and the Liberals with 36.
A coalition is possible between the NDP and the Liberals if they decide to join forces. Doing so would put the Conservatives out of a majority government, and without their deciding vote, would allow the other two parties to undo bills the Conservatives made while in power.
The latest fiscal year in Canada showed a surplus rather than a deficit as in previous years. According to the Conservative’s website, they have cut taxes over 160 times and, “by balancing major tax cuts with disciplined debt reduction and focused, prudent spending, the Government has been planning for long-term prosperity while carefully guiding the Canadian economy through a period of global economic turmoil”.
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau says the budget surplus has more to do with cuts of billions of dollars to veteran affairs and seniors in the country, according to an announcement he made earlier this month in a video from The Canadian Press.
“It was a political goal that actually has helped us slide into the recession,” said Trudeau.
According to Radio Canada International, the 2006 election cost taxpayers 272 million dollars and was only half the campaign length of this year’s election.
This is one in a series of federal election campaign stories completed by Journalism Major students in Red River College’s Creative Communications program. Click here to read more of their articles.