I began a blogging partnership with Student Vote, a civic education project of a Canadian NGO called CIVIX, in order to promote more interest in politics amongst youths and to promote the concept of people under 30 running for political office. This was my first post for them, posted on January 29th. Stay tuned for my next post about the barriers to entry, coming soon!
My name is Mike Bleskie. I’m a 21-year-old public relations student at Cambrian College, a follower of political debate, and a strong believer in Canada’s democratic system.
I am also a city council candidate in Greater Sudbury, Ontario.
I’ve been following politics since I was little. I remember being eight-years-old and watching the 2000 federal election results roll in, the news breaking that Prime Minister Jean Chrétien had won another term in office, and the speeches of the leaders, thanking their supporters and volunteers. It seemed like an odd thing to attach yourself to, but seeing the crowds passionately support their candidates, in community halls and convention centres from coast to coast to coast, was inspiring.
But is it crazy that at my age, I’m running in an election? I hope not.
Let’s get serious. The youth population of Canada is the most under-represented demographic, both in elections and in elected roles. Only 38.8 per cent of eligible voters aged 18-24 actually turned out to cast a ballot in the last federal election, compared to 75.1 per cent of those aged 65-74. This isn’t all apathy either. Some have tuned out the system, but there are also many of us that have become frustrated with some of the rusty machinery that helps to decide Canada’s balance of power.
So, on January 2nd, I went to Tom Davies Square in Sudbury’s downtown and registered with the City Clerk’s office to run as a city council candidate in the October municipal election. It’s my hope that by running I will be able to bring new ideas to the chambers of my city, and, most importantly, to highlight the issue of youth participation in politics across all levels of government. I want others my age to give this experience a try, and to make their voices heard at a much louder level. Maybe it will take more youth candidates to really start a healthy conversation with young people. Maybe you want to help?
I’ll be giving a few updates on the experience of running in an election, providing some insights on the system itself, the work of going on the campaign trail, and possibly a piece of advice or two for those of you who see yourselves as a future candidate!