Canadian Youth Overcame Harper’s Fair Elections Act, Owned 2015 Federal Election
A few weeks before the 2015 federal election, Brigette DePape vowed that “despite the Harper government making it harder for us to vote, young people are going to be the game-changers nobody saw coming.”
Elections Canada’s 2015 National Youth Survey confirms that DePage was right. Young Canadians overcame the former Harper regime’s so-called Fair Elections Act, an anti-democratic piece of legislation critics labeled a barrier against young Canadians, students, Indigenous people, the poor and immigrants.
According to survey:
- The “participation of Canada’s youth in the 2015 election indicates the highest increase in turnout since Elections Canada began reporting demographic data in 2004”;
- Youth voter turnout in the 18–24 age-group increased to 57.1% from 38.8% in 2011; and
- Youth voter turnout in the 25–34 age group increased to 57.4% from 45.1% 2011.
“Young people voted in record numbers because of successful on-the-ground organizing in ridings across the country to increase voter turnout,” said DePape, who was the Council of Canadians’ Youth Vote Campaigner during the 2015 election. “The Council of Canadians, its local chapters and allied organizations mobilized thousands of young voters and people of all ages to get to the polls in ridings from coast to coast. Together we changed the game.”
For most of 2015, DePape led the Get Out the Youth Vote initiative, which was part of the Council of Canadians’ democracy campaign. The campaign was supported by ShitHarperDid, the Canadian Federation of Students, LeadNow, Apathy is Boring, and other youth-oriented organizations and movements.
Young Canadians’ game-changing role in the 2015 election contrasts with their participation during the voter suppression-riddled 2011 election. Then nearly 2 out of 3 young (18-24) people did not vote. That’s about about 1.8 million of the 9,434,184 eligible voters who didn’t cast their vote. The Conservatives won 54.22 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons, and 100 per cent of political power, with only 39.62 of the vote.
In a piece published by the Policy magazine in February, former senior Harper adviser Bruce Carson argued that the Fair Elections Act “backfired” and helped defeat the former prime minister. The Council of Canadians says the legislation “remains a barrier to voting for many people.”
Before being elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau pledged to repeal the Fair Elections Act.
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