Two weeks before Canada votes, Elena’s Club hosted a federal election primer class for young women to understand why it’s important to understand where political parties stand on policies, how the electoral system works, what the federal government is actually responsible for and why voting is important.
Hosting the class was Globe and Mail reporter Laura Stone, who told Elena’s Club before the event that the most important thing to understand is that “elections are a fixture of our democracy and that is where we as Canadians exercise our most basic right, which is to choose who represents us.”
“The information is out there and we have an open and free society, and it’s [the responsibility for] everyone to get informed and to decide what matters to them and to exercise their democratic right,” Stone said.
Stone who reports in the Queen’s Park Bureau in Toronto has been covering Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government for the past year. She joined the Globe and Mail in 2016 as a federal political reporter on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
She noted that the most important thing that young women should take into consideration when understanding a federal election is to ensure that their voice is heard.
“I hope that [young women] feel they can engage with the political system and not be intimidated by it and not feel like their voice doesn’t matter or they don't understand the issues enough because it should be accessible to everyone,” Stone said. “It should feel like they’re contributing to the discourse and the direction of where our country should go.”
This year six leaders are vying to be Canada’s next prime minister. Liberal leader and incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hoping to get re-elected. In 2015, he won the title with a majority government. Battling him are Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, New Democrat Party Leader Jagmeet Singh, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, and People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier.
There have been many major topics that have been discussed in the lead up to the final voting day on Oct. 21. Stone said that all leaders have also put out various platform promises that are based on what the leaders have heard from Canadians.
An important note that Stone said though is that she didn’t “ want to guide people as to what they should be paying attention to because it’s an individual perspective.”
But from what has been discussed by party leaders, topics are around affordability, housing, the climate crisis, Indigenou affairs, and healthcare.
“It’s whatever grabs people in their lives,” Stone said, adding that for example, affordability is “something that applies to people’s everyday lives.”
We also won’t know what exactly the voter turnout will be, and whether or not there are more young people involved, but Stone said that there have been some events where it can be seen that many young people have been involved during the election.
“I think there are a couple of defining features. One was the climate rally...where we sou hundreds of thousands in Canada and may of those, many many of those were young people,” she said. “You can see that from the photos and videos and if you were there.”
She did, however, indicate that we won’t know for sure the involvement of young people and how many young people voted until after the election is over and those results are made public.
The most important thing that Stone said was that there are many outlets to learn and gather information from to educate voters.
“The first thing to look at is the availability of live and fulsome news conferences and press availability that are out there,” she said. “If you go to CBC or CPAC, you can watch the leaders speak and you get the raw, I guess, version of what they are talking about. And then I think there are reputable news organizations if you want to go a step further for analysis and fact-checking and balance.”
In an era where there is so much online and so much access to information, Stone recommends going to reputable organizations to get that fulsome and in-depth reporting to really understand elections.
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