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Young Canadians aren’t formally participating in democracy

New report shows how we ‘get political’ between elections


 

a.drian/Flickr

A new national survey on the ways Canadians “get political” between elections contains good news and bad news about youth participation in democracy.

The good news is that, contrary to the stereotype, people aged 18 to 34 say they are more engaged in civic activities any other age group.

The bad news is that Canadians in general have become “lightweights” when it comes to political participation and that fewer young people bother to formally engage in the party system which, as the report points out, has the power to make the big decisions about how tax dollars are spent.

Young Canadians are more likely than older adults to have circulated, posted, re-posted or embedded political information or content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogs, discussed a political or societal issue face-to-face or over the phone, organized public events or meetings about politics or taken part in demonstrations in the past 12 months, the survey says.

They’re less likely than those aged 35 and older to have contacted an elected official, attended a political meeting, volunteered for an election campaign or belonged to a political party. They’re also less likely to vote. In both of the last two federal elections, only about one-third cast ballots.

“If a healthy democracy requires active participation, then Canada is on pretty shaky ground,” concludes the report. “This is most pronounced when it comes to formal politics, which appears to have lost—or failed to build—cachet with most Canadians, and most critically our young people.”

Lightweights?: Political Participation Beyond the Ballot Box was commissioned by Samara, a non-profit organization that aims to build civic engagement in Canada.


 

Young Canadians aren’t formally participating in democracy

  1. How can the average Canadian have an enquiring mind when they are not allowed to use it. The political bias of the media explains to them howw to think and view subjects. All is presented, no critical examination necessary. Aha, just as they were trained to perceive.

  2. @B Nelson

    Media generally speak to and for an audience of a specific type. While every media outlet would love to claim that they speak unbiased towards the general population, the reality is they steer more towards their target demographic. Therefore, if you want an unbiased opinion, it’s up to individuals to absorb information from multiple sources.

    Regardless, it doesn’t have that much of an impact on the political outcomes. The media in Canada (and N. America for that matter) is generally catered to left leaning audiences (many whom are likely younger as well). Yet Canada has shown that it will elect a right-winged party. I think the basis of this article is a good root-cause understanding for that.

  3. The education system tends to avoid teaching both critical thinking and analysis/education of the issue surrounding politics (economy, social issues, etc). The end result are citizens that they have insufficient knowledge to realize why politics is important let alone make informed decisions. This notes even in many that are university educated.

    One must ask why, when politics affects every aspect of our daily life, is it a totally ignored topic in general education? Breading a country of ignorant people makes shaping public opinion and winning elections easier but it does nothing for the strength of the country.

  4. +1 jamesshorner.

    The emphasis on government and politics is left out of the education system at an early age. Students are given a semester course in “civics” and are sent on their way.

    At the same time, politics in our country aren’t flashy and commercialized like the US. In the digital age we live in, there are too many other things to keep that demographic occupied. As a recent university grad in this age group I can certainly attest…

  5. We need to overhaul the electoral system. It doesn’t take into account every voice, disheartening Candadians everywhere. If the kids are online, put the polls there! Democracy is at our fingertips, but there are vested interests in keeping it at the ballot box. The more people who vote, the more progressive the results…

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