Crescent Valley Elementary School Grade 7 students, Tyson Anderson and Olivia Rodgers, cast their ballot in the 2019 student vote where students across Canada mock elected a Liberal minority government.
Masha Scheele Photo
Students in Hinton practiced their democratic rights and participated in the Canadian federal election, just like they did with the provincial election earlier this year.
Student Vote Canada 2019 saw more than 1.1 million elementary and secondary school students participating in mock elections from all 338 ridings.
Based on the results, Hinton’s students also elected a Liberal minority government, but voted a bit differently than the adults in their lives.
The Liberal Party took 22.3 per cent of the popular vote and won 110 seats. The spot of official opposition was taken by the NDP with 24.8 per cent of the popular vote and 99 seats, followed closely behind by the Conservative Party at 25.1 per cent of the popular vote and 94 seats. The Green Party took 28 seats, while the Bloc Québecois took nine seats.
Leading up to the mock elections, Civix provided each school with learning resources to improve civic literacy, introduce the concepts of governance and democracy, increase awareness about the workings of government in Canada, and teach students how to effectively participate as active and informed citizens in their community.
Hunter Young, a Grade 6 french immersion teacher at École Mountain View School (MV), explained that besides using the learning resources, they focused on news reports as well as assignments like candidate write-ups and party presentations to inform students.
“They can make their own decisions this way and not just say who they would vote for because their parents are voting for them,” said Young.
Along with teaching kids to rely on their own judgements, they also learned how to decipher the news to find what’s real and what’s not.
“I think learning this at a young age is going to help foster that for the rest of their lives,” she added.
Grade 6 student Jared Carré explained that he was assigned to present on the Conservative Party, which he believed had a good platform regarding the carbon tax.
“He’s trying to eliminate [the carbon tax] because some families need more money to buy food and pay their bills,” said Carré.
His fellow student, Solomon Beauchamp, stated that the most important issues determining his vote in the mock election were the environment, education, and homelessness.
Daryl Cardiff, social studies teacher at Harry Collinge High School (HCHS), also prepared his students for the mock election.
Each year, Cardiff holds a mock election for the Grade 9 students as part of their curriculum, but this year the entire high school took part.
“It’s been interesting in the past, sometimes it kind of mirrors what’s going on,” he said. “Other times it’s off.”
Many young students are passionate about the environment, while Grade 12 students are more focused on how post-secondary education is going to be affected as well as housing, he added.
Nichole Mclaren, an 18 year-old Grade 12 student who cast her ballot in both the mock election and the official election stated that issues important to her are climate change, health care, pharma care, and dental care.
“It’s very talked about in my household, we’ve been talking about it for the past year and watching debates and stuff,” she said.
Fellow student at HCHS, Kenzie Christensen, added that post-secondary education and future jobs were big factors in her mock election decision.
“Climate change is a top thing for me, and the economy. I think if you’re going to do something about climate change, like the oil and gas industry, if they take those jobs away they would have to compensate them for that,” she added.
While most students knew who they were voting for, they were less sure about Yellowhead’s candidates.
Grade 12 student, Kaity Fofonoff commented, “None of them seem like great leaders.”
Grade six and seven students at Crescent Valley Elementary School (CV) also researched the different parties, candidates, and platforms.
Students were encouraged to discuss their opinions on the things they learned.
“It’s been interesting to see how exciting it is for them to experience this,” said Paula Murphy, Grade 6 teacher at Crescent Valley.
“We’re teaching kids that they have the democratic right to vote and that it’s our responsibility as a voter.”
Grade 6 student Sara Russell explained that she organized all the party’s information she had into what she agreed with before making a decision.
Two big issues she looked at was consultation with residents on the pipeline and the legalization of marijuana.
“Trudeau made drugs legal, he shouldn’t have done that,” she said.
“Conservatives would make it better. Greens said they want to make it tax free, I don’t think the Green Party should do that. In town there’s already places you can buy that stuff, I don’t think that’s better for the community or for the country,” she said.
Her classmate, Rio Waddy, was more concerned with the carbon tax and equalization payments.
“Over three billion dollars comes from Alberta and that just goes to Quebec. That should be cut,” he said.
While he discussed some of the issues with his parents, he said he mostly researched the parties on his own. Even though the students still have some years to go before they are able to legally vote, they all said they would cast their ballot if they could right now.
“I feel like a lot of younger kids are busy with extracurricular things. A lot of adults don’t even vote.. People are too busy to even follow the election,” said Grade 12 student Ashlyn Teskey.
The print version of this article contained a wrongly paraphrased quote attributed to Kenzie Christensen. The quote stated that Christensen believed a Conservative government might have a negative impact on secondary education. She corrected this by saying she believed the new provincial government has impacted post secondary education, but doesn’t believe having a conservative federal government would be inherently negative.