Four Questions with Arielle Lessard

The Future Majority fellow discusses the importance of voting

The Argus: Tell me a bit about Future Majority and the unique opportunity the 18-38 demographic has in the upcoming election. 

 

Arielle Lessard: Future Majority is a non-partisan non-profit led by young organizers that believe this is a critical time to mobilize young voters in more relational ways. 

 

I'm one of 14 fellows at campuses across the country organizing the student/youth vote. We’re now are the largest voter bloc (18-38 [year-olds]) and we want more from our politicians.

 

We're organizing so that all politicians have to listen to young people. We can set the national agenda over the upcoming federal election, promote young voices in the discussions happening across the country, and actively discredit the myths/jokes about young people not caring or working hard enough since we’ve come to inherit a lot of endemic issues. We strongly believe that youth issues go beyond partisanship and want any elected official to be able to address them.

 

It’s going to take all of us. 

 

A: Can you speak to the importance of exercising your right to vote? 

 

AL: A lot of people don’t think their voice matters and some even don’t vote as a way to show disapproval of politicians and politics in general, however this just gets read as apathy, not as protest. Voting is a way to demand change on a national level, but for that we have to come out to the polls to keep all politicians accountable. 

 

A: Tell me a bit about the response you’ve gotten in speaking to students – were there any common themes/concerns/questions that stood out?  

 

AL: The common concerns that we’ve heard from young voters and students in Thunder Bay have centered heavily around food security (this is one of the top 3 most food insecure campuses in so-called Canada), student debt and housing affordability (balancing the cost of both is routinely a crushing source of stress for most young people), and the climate crisis. These issues come up again and again - across the board. They are the biggest issues impacting our generation today. 

 

We are already beginning to feel the impact of climate change through increased severity of climate events, like flooding and drought, which causes humanitarian crises, the creation of climate refugees, and political instability. Frankly, this is really, really scary, and it impacts our generation – millennials and gen-z – the most. The climate strikes across the country and the world as a whole are a big indicator that people are thirsty for more action and change but we’re facing political inaction on this issue without young people going out to the polls. 

 

We want to show the world’s governments that it’s not ok to stick our heads in the sand anymore, action on this doesn’t end after the strikes or after the elections. One of the best things anyone can do if they care about all these issues is to vote this election to ensure they’re no longer ignored, and that’s why we’re working to get young people to the polls.

 

It’s also definitely worth noting that although international students can’t vote they’re also worried about the sameissues: the climate crisis, housing affordability and the burden of international student tuition are big issues.

 

A: What advice would you give to a first-time voter or someone who isn’t sure who to vote for

 

AL: Voting as a young person has never been so important and easy! There’s never been more polling stations on campus (now at 120) and now voters can check out our new website that makes voting extremely easy, www.govotecanada.ca

 

We built this for each other so we can seize the opportunity to make a difference and have our voices heard. On govotecanada.ca voters can compare their home riding to their school’s to see where they’d prefer to vote and the ID they need to vote. There’s also a tool there where millennials and gen z’ers can pick their top three issues, see all of the proposed platforms for those issues and choose which one they think best aligns with their values. This is a tool for young voters to figure out what they’d like to do with their vote. The Why Vote tool shows how much of an impact the youth vote can have in each riding across the country.

 

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