Do I Count?
On September 20th, Canadians responded diligently to Justin Trudeau’s call for federal elections. Out of the millions of people lining up in the polling stations, a young new crowd appeared. Indeed, that day signified for a lot of Dawson students, among others, their first ever elections. As a generation that has shown time and time again how politicised and eager it is to share its opinions, many young people are left to wonder if they actually have the power to change things, and whether their newly earned votes actually weigh much in the balance.
Dawson students had a lot to say in regard to what were their incentives to go vote. “I’m able to vote now, I’ve complained about politics for years, so I can’t be a hypocrite and complain about the people in power and then not use my vote when given the opportunity”, says Casey De Andrade Kiss, a 2nd year Literature student here at Dawson.
Another 2nd year Cinema-Communications student, Emma Mégélas, dreamed of change: “I want to vote for someone who really wants to do something. If you want something different, go for something different”. On the other hand, Catherine Lebrun, a North-South Studies student in her 2nd year felt that her vote meant justice: “Voting, for me, is a way to stand up for yourself and what you believe in”.
While Dawson students seem to have endless motivations to go vote, some also feel like they are in an uphill battle against political campaigns that don’t favor them. Electoral campaigns have had a tendency of addressing the concerns of older generations, to the detriment of others, and this year is no exception. “We all know that [politicians] spend a lot of time talking to senior citizens, because the pollsters all know that they don’t have as much to do [as younger people], so they vote in much higher percentages”, said Joseph Rosen, professor of Humanities at Dawson, “I really understand the kind of apathy that leads young people to not vote”. Alexia Silvestri, 2nd year student in Marketing agrees, “It’s a vicious cycle in the way that [politicians] constantly go see the older generation and campaign for them. They’re not paying attention to us”. Many students share her opinion and Catherine Lebrun seems to think it also advantages the politicians to emphasize the older vote, “They know that if young people voted more, then the results would be different”. There seems to be a consensus amongst the new voters that the current political campaigns aren’t made to reach new voters, which in turn impacts their motivation to vote. When asked whether she felt reached out to by politicians, Catherine said one exception stood out: “If I wasn’t interested in [politics], [Jagmeet Singh’s political campaign on TikTok] is the only one that I would’ve seen”.
Young Gen Z voters seem to share a political landscape. Yet, they still make up a small number of the demography. It seems as though several would be left to wonder whether their vote counted, but students prove themselves resilient to these misconceptions. “I think it’s discouraging when people don’t go to vote, because the numbers won’t change, so there’s no indicator that there could be change in the future. Even if you know that your preferred candidate won’t win, it’s still important to go vote because it still gets recorded that the numbers are going up for that party”, said Casey passionately.
No matter your allegiance: Red, Dark Blue, Light Blue, Orange, Green, Purple your vote always counts. Even if, upon arriving at the polls, you decided to cancel your ballot, your vote matters in the voter turn-out. Even if you live in a district that votes the same party diligently every four years, you must not let that discourage you. This year, only 62.25% registered Canadians exercised their right to vote. While that may seem like a high number, we are missing the opinion of a little more than 10’000’000 Canadians, which would have the power to change the whole political landscape of Canada. As the new generation who has the power to change the world, we have to make this happen. Do we count? Yes, we do. If we want change, we must incarnate change.