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Students more informed about U.S. than Canadian politics

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Voting booths set up at Langara College for the LSU elections. Photo by Clare Hennig.

Reported by Clare Hennig

The upcoming American presidential election is increasing students interest in politics.

As Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton battle for the U.S. presidency, students north of the border are engaged in the entertaining and controversial race.

Paul Prosperi, head of the political science department at Langara, said it seems there is more awareness of U.S. politics than Canadian politics amongst students at Langara.

“One hopes that Canadians’ interest in politics in the United States helps increase awareness of political issues and perhaps interest in our own political system,” Prosperi said.

Prosperi ran a short poll in his introductory class to gauge awareness amongst his students of U.S. politics compared to Canadian politics. Not a scientific poll at all, he said, but the results were interesting.

“I asked my students to name the leader of the opposition in this country or name the leader of any of the other major parties,” he said. ‘”Everybody started laughing. Nobody had any difficulty in this class pointing out who the Republican nominee was for president or the Democratic nominee.”

Students aware of political issues making headlines

The fact that Canadians are paying attention to a range of issues brought up in by the campaign debates, from sexual violence against women to immigration policies, is beneficial.

John Bay, a second-year accounting student at Langara who just moved back to Canada from California, said he is affected by local issues such as housing policies in Vancouver and plans to vote in next May’s provincial election.

“I’ve been away for six years and it’s scary to live here,” said Bay. “I was born and raised here but I can’t afford to live here. “

Bay follows the two countries’ politics for different reasons. U.S. politics are entertaining, he said, but Canadian issues are more pertinent to him even if the politics are “boring.”

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