Reported by Kristen Holliday
An increase in young voices in parliament would create a more effective democracy, particularly when it comes to issues that fundamentally affect youth, such as climate change, according to 24-year-old Yvonne Hanson, the NDP candidate for Vancouver Granville.
According to Statistics Canada, youths aged 15–34 make up 26 per cent of Canada’s population, but there isn’t a single incumbent B.C. Member of Parliament under the age of 35. The average age of a B.C. MP is around 56, according to a tally conducted by The Voice.
“Older generations are less likely to perform an accurate cost-benefit analysis when they look at the climate crisis,” said Hanson, an SFU graduate. “They will have to be dealing with the costs, but they won’t see the benefit. Youth will see the benefit.”
Peter Prontzos, political science instructor at Langara College, believes an equal representation of youth in government would benefit all Canadians, especially when considering domestic policy, war, and foreign aid.
“Younger people will be more compassionate and more open minded,” he said.
Prontzos pointed to two reasons why there are few youths in government.
“In general, younger people don’t vote as much, which indicates, at least up until now, there has been less interest,” he said. “To run for parliament, hopefully you do have some experience, some education, and that takes a number of years.”
Some voters view age as a benefit.
“There’s a certain life experience you need with that much power,” said Bryan Lim, a food and nutrition student at Langara.
The 2015 election saw 57 per cent of people ages 18-24 vote, a 19 per cent increase from the previous election.
Talking to young people, Hanson encourages them to step into the political sphere. “We need young voices and we need them to be overwhelmingly loud and numerous and in a diverse range of communities.”
The more young people engage and participate, the more likely they are to eventually step up as candidates, predicted Prontzos.
“People will get more comfortable with the idea that you don’t have to be in your sixties to be a competent politician,” says Prontzos.