Putting apathy on the other foot

Why are party leaders ignoring a group that is ripe for the political moulding?

I have to admit, I’m more than a little annoyed at the lack of attention the federal leaders are giving youth voters this election.

In an age where young people are not only really easy to reach — through avenues like social media — but they are now showing they want to be reached, it’s mind-boggling how little Stephen Harper, Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton are taking advantage of this demographic. What does a young person have to do to get Ottawa’s attention?

Everyone has been talking about how this is the election to reach youth. It all started with Rick Mercer’s early call to arms. “If you are between the age of 18 and 25 and you want to scare the hell out of the people that run this country this time around, do the unexpected [and] vote,” he challenged on March 28.

And since then, the youth of this country have answered.

Every day I come across article after article, or YouTube video after YouTube video, of youth proclaiming their engagement. They want to connect with the political parties and they want to participate in democracy is the overwhelming message from young people across this country.

And it’s not just youth making themselves heard. The media is giving attention to the youth vote, political groups are giving attention to the youth vote, it virtually seems that everyone in Canada is paying attention to what young voters are doing and saying, except the people who should be paying attention the most — the leaders.

On top of their seeming apathy towards a population that holds quite a bit of sway in some ridings, what’s worse is the increasing number of stories like these, making it seem as though politicians are actively trying to turn young people off voting.

When you combine this behaviour with no mention of student issues at the English leaders’ debate, limited post-secondary education platform promises from most parties and a clear lack of engagement across the board, it’s any wonder there are any young voters left who give a damn. And I’m not convinced youth turning out in droves on May 2 is going to curb any of this current counter-apathy when we undoubtedly end up back at the polls in a year or two as seems to be the trend in this country.