How Canadian Youth Influenced the 2021 Election
Manasvi Mital, Grade 12
“The youth is the hope of our future” (Rizal). The 2021 Canadian Federal election candidates listened to Canadian youth and created plans to combat those issues that most affected them, because the candidates understood the value of youth support. The 2021 election did not change much in Canada, however it did demonstrate to the world how powerful the youth of Canada are.
One of the top issues was climate change and each leader had their own way of making Canada more green. During the election in 2019, climate change was a key issue however, the leaders did not have detailed plans on how they were going to combat it. Fridays for Future Toronto is a chapter of the Fridays for Future organization and was founded by 22 year old Allie Rougeot, who is passionate about human rights and climate justice. In 2019, the Corporate Knights, a magazine for clean capitalism, placed Rougeot on their Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Leaders, and she also spoke at the United Nations’ World Environment Day. She has organized numerous climate protests in Toronto. Rougeot’s, and the many other climate activists’ work, did not go unnoticed by politicians as they created plans that would be more beneficial for the environment. For example, the Liberals added that they were going to ban single use plastics to their platform. The Conservatives switched over to a pro-carbon tax stance, which is better for the environment compared to their anti-carbon tax position. These major platform changes by the two largest political parties in Canada show that when youth unite to fight for a cause that they believe in, anything can happen. In a span of two years, through social media, protests, and demanding change, the youth of Canada were able to pressure these government officials into working harder for the environment.
Another top issue affecting the younger generation is post-secondary education and student debt. According to Stats Canada, in 2015, the average student debt for those who completed their bachelor’s degree was $28,000, and those who pursued higher education such as their Master’s or their Doctorate would be in an overwhelming amount of debt. The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organization, and one of the issues they speak out about is student debt. The candidates would have looked at this organization to get some inspiration for how they could make Canada better for youth. The NDP looked at the data that showed that Canadian students were in debt, and in response to that, they pledged on Twitter to “remove interest from all federal loans, give graduates a 5 year head start for paying back their loans, and forgive both old and new loans of up to $20,000” (@NDP). The NDP gained one seat and had an increase in votes by 1.8% since the 2019 election, and this could be credited to their generous plan for tackling student debt. The younger generation made the candidates aware that the student debt crisis was one of the most important issues for them, which is why the candidates spent a lot of time developing strong solutions.
Furthermore, the house prices in Canada have risen to an absurd amount, and all leaders had to come up with plans to solve this crisis that is affecting Canadian youth the most. Homes in Toronto are an average of $1,000,000, and that makes it very difficult for young people to own a home since they are already struggling to pay off their student loans. On August 14, 2021, 60 people went to Waterloo City Hall to demand for a solution to the housing crisis. There were demonstrations in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Vancouver as well. The political leaders must have seen or heard about these protests and decided to plan some actions they could perform if they were to become the Prime Minister of Canada. The Liberal Party proposed in 2019 to create 100,000 new affordable homes in 10 years, and in 2021, they stated that they would build, repair or preserve 1.5 million homes. The Liberal Party coming up with this plan could have been one of the factors as to why he was re-elected as Canada's prime minister, and youth-led protests were at the forefront of this movement to affordable housing.
Every leader ran a good campaign and dedicated their time trying to convince Canadians they were the Prime Minister to help this country so it can be better for future generations. Justin Trudeau succeeded in doing that and now he is responsible for ensuring that he keeps his promises and acts in the best interests of Canada’s youth.