Canadian politics are an ugly business. We’re inundated with negativity at every turn, as parties spend more time, energy, and money trying to convince us us why their rivals will ruin the country than they do selling us their own vision of the future.
In the 2011 election, only 38.8 percent of Canadians aged 18-24 voted. Given the overwhelming negativity surrounding politics, is it any wonder why youth stayed away from the polls?
Enter our new weekly column—PoSitics. Over the next four weeks, this special feature will seek to present a positive, upbeat analysis of each party’s platform so that Dalhousie students can approach the upcoming election with an appropriate sense of hope. We want students heading to the polls debating which party they WANT to vote for, not agonizing over who scares them the least. Surely things can’t be as discouraging as we’ve been led to believe…right?
For our first week, let’s start with the party that has led the country for the past nine years: the Conservatives.
Given all of their talk about Netflix taxes and Justin Trudeau’s hair, you may not even realize that the Conservatives have released several promises aimed at addressing student/youth issues.
These promises might not have been front-page news, but they definitely exist. A search of the Conservatives’ official website yields the following results:
Using the search term “students”:
- “We will … [double] the federal grant provided to low- and middle-income families through Registered Education Savings Plans. This will ultimately provide as much as $2,200 more per student in matching government support.”
Using the search term “youth”:
- A pledge to spend $10 million to convince young Canadians that running off to join Islamic State terror squads is a bad idea.
- A vigorous anti-drug stance that, among other things, will continue to protect youth from the potentially life-ruining temptation to get involved with drugs by scaring us with life-ruining mandatory minimum sentences.
To sum it up: the Conservative plan for youth and students appears to consist of spooking us off terrorism and drugs, while making some changes to RESPs that will realize their full potential when Dalhousie welcomes its class of 2035.
This is an … interesting approach. It’s great to see a party that cares enough to want to protect us from ourselves. We’re certainly vulnerable – what self-supported student hasn’t spent at least one graveyard shift at work stressing over their budget and worrying that they might have to join an illegal organization for that fourth part-time job?
Then there’s the RESP grant expansion. Students entering Dalhousie in 2031 will adore that extra $2,200 the government plans to chip into their RESP. This is assuming, of course, that their parents had the disposable income and foresight to make optimal contributions every year between now and then — but for those specific hoverboard-riding future students who do benefit from this program, the extra cash will be a big assist, covering upwards of three hours worth of classes at deregulated 2030 tuition levels.
Now, some might have concerns about the depth of the Conservative Party’s commitment to students, but again, this column is not the place for negativity.
Is it unfortunate that this article is a few hundred words short? Perhaps. Let’s not blame it on the Conservatives though. There has to be something we’re missing – some positive aspect of the Conservatives’ campaign that might give students reason to consider them on Election Day.
Aha – found one! According to the Gazette archives, Irvine Carvery – the Conservative candidate for the riding that includes all of Dalhousie’s Halifax campuses – ran against Megan Leslie for the NDP nomination in 2008. This raises a number of interesting possibilities.
What if this is all simply a misunderstanding? Is it not possible that Carvery thinks the NDP riding association has an especially terrible receptionist and that all of the nomination papers people sent him to sign last month are just part of that long overdue process?
Alternatively, what if Carvery is part of some left-wing conspiracy to infiltrate the Conservatives on behalf of students?
The evidence is certainly there. Have you met anyone suggesting you vote Conservative? Have you seen ANY Conservative signs around the city? Did you notice that Carvery didn’t show up to the first all-candidates debate? By making no discernable effort to even pretend like they have a chance or desire to win in Halifax, the Conservatives are bringing us one step closer to electing a government that might at least pay lip service to student issues!
There’s no way of telling which, if any, of these theories is correct. You’re probably feeling a little better about the Conservative candidate though, and I’ve passed 700 words, so let’s quit while we’re ahead and chalk this up as a win for PoSitics.
John Hillman is the Gazette's Opinions Editor. John is a second-year law student, but he has been at Dalhousie for much longer than that. Recently discovered cave paintings indicate he was first observed lurching around campus by Halifax’s original human settlers some time during the late Pleistocene epoch. He started writing for the Gazette back when you were in elementary school, but he unexpectedly went off the grid a half-decade ago to concentrate on helping found Punditry.ca, a DSU-focused political blog. Where exactly was he hiding between the years 2009-2013? Certain individuals would prefer he not comment. Why has he returned? Not because of a top-secret Illuminati indoctrination project known only as the Omega Initiative, that’s for sure.
You can email John at email@example.com.