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Alternate reality

This Magazine Staff

It’s been three days since the de ja vu election and I, like many Canadians, have been walking around in a bit of a daze wondering what happened on Tuesday. Are we really in the same place we were before? Did we really just spent $300 million to shuffle around a dozen or so seats? In the age where so many Canadians attend post-secondary school and access to information and education is essentially instantaneous via the internet, did we really in 2008 see the lowest voter turnout on record?
I’m having a hard time believing all of it, so here’s a little alternate reality for you: What would happen if, instead of forcing curmudgeonly old-timers and bored boomers to the polls each time, we let teenagers decide our fate? It may sound a little crazy, but think about it for a second.
In the days and weeks preceding the gigantic waste of time and money that was October 14, 2008, more than 4,000 schools across Canada were preparing for a round of mock elections organized by the non-partisan Student Vote. Youngins from Nova Scotia to B.C. cast their ballots and here were the results:
Conservative Party of Canada
100 seats – 26.8% of popular vote
New Democratic Party of Canada
66 seats – 23.7% of popular vote
Liberal Party of Canada
54 seats – 19.3%
Green Party of Canada
44 seats – 25% of popular vote
Bloc Quebecois
24 seats – 1.1% of popular vote

The eerie thing is that the results don’t differ too drastically. There’s still a Conservative minority and there’s still a disproportionate number of seats for certain parties, further illustrating the problems with a “first-past-the-post” electoral system. But in the alternate reality results, the NDP and the Green Party have, collectively, the same number of seats as the Tories, giving them the opportunity to exert some serious pull when it comes to the environmental and social issues that Harper has been ignoring.
We might have gotten our arts funding back.
On the other hand, there’s also the fact that, as a friend of mine pointed out, many students aren’t as properly educated about party platforms as they should be in order to vote. I’d go on to say, however, that many (most?) adults wouldn’t know where to find platforms even if they wanted to read them. Who knows what would have happened if every vote came from an individual (child or adult) that was fully educated on each issue. A Green Party majority? Probably not, but given the embarrassing voter (59 percent!) turnout this election, we’ll probably never know.
But, there is at least one shining hope for any future Canadian elections. Four times more schools participated in Student Vote this year than during the 2006 election, totalling about 400,000 students. Educated or not, this means the potential for four times more students graduating with a yearning to vote than in years past.
As a relative youngin myself, I’m still waiting for the day when the youth of Canada shed their bad rap and actually give a crap about who’s running their country. Maybe next time.
In the meantime, if you’re unhappy with the turn your riding took this election, why not check out who might have been elected had you handed the power off to a bunch of kids. If you’re living in Central Nova, you’d have said goodbye to Peter McKay, as Elizabeth May took the seat in a landslide. If you’re living in my home riding of Toronto Centre, you’d be be cozying up with Johan Boyden of the Communist Party of Canada.

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