Kevin Berger – Leader Staff
This week’s column is going to be delving into a story I wrote this week about the Student Vote, an educational exercise that occurs alongside the provincial and federal elections. If you haven’t read my story on the Student Vote, you may want to turn to Page 6A before continuing.
One interesting fact about the Student Vote that didn’t make it into my story was that, besides Ontario, Alberta actually has the most participation in the exercise. Ontario had 3,072 schools participate and 456,014 students actually cast votes; by contrast, there were 1,338 schools returning ballots from Alberta and 214,370 students casting votes.
B.C.’s participation is also quite high but falls just short of Alberta’s numbers, while participation in Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Maritimes is fairly low.
I think it’s fair to say that Alberta’s participation is why the Conservatives captured the highest percentage of ballots in the Student Vote - a total of 25.04 per cent nationally.
Indeed, 46.02 per cent of student votes cast in Alberta were for the Conservatives. And that was enough for a near clean sweep of the province - 30 of 34 seats.
Likewise, I think Quebec’s low participation is why the Bloc Québécois performs so dismally in the Student Vote.
What I find interesting about the Student Vote - and this is where we come to the reason why I wanted to talk about it - is the percentage of votes going to the NDP and Greens.
If it was the youth deciding elections, the NDP would have a total of 97 seats, including 25 in B.C., three in Alberta and Saskatchewan, five in Manitoba, 34 in Ontario, 21 in Quebec and six scattered throughout the rest of Canada.
The Greens, meanwhile, would have a total of 27 seats - while they are shut out in the Prairies, they have footholds in B.C., Ontario and the Maritimes.
In short, we’d potentially be looking at an NDP-Green Party coalition.
What’s driving the youth to these parties? I don’t think it’s too presumptuous to guess climate change, or rather the fear of it. After all, that’s the common link between the NDP and the Greens.
The youth have heard the warnings and they’re seeing a bleak future on the horizon. And that’s why they’re “voting” the way they are, and why they’re protesting more and more.
And while Albertan kids still support Conservatives, I would not discount the fact that quite a few of them also voted NDP (21.16 per cent) and Green (10.86 per cent).
“So what? It’s not like these kids’ votes actually mean anything.” That’s true in the case of the Grade 6 and junior high kids taking part, but what about the high school students?
Climate change is not going away as an issue. The Conservative Party should take note if they ever hope to unseat the Liberals - the youth of today are not to going support a weak environmental platform tomorrow.