Military enlistment: why Canadians join the Forces

During the Second World War, more than one million Canadians served in the Forces. In 2006, our combined Forces — regular and reserve — totalled 87,700. Regardless of the year, purpose and size of the military, Canadians enlist for similar reasons.

David Shergold is a doctor at Sunnybrook Hospital’s Veterans’ Centre. He served in the Royal Canadian Navy for 20 years before switching to medicine, and was the Forces’ recruitment doctor stationed in Toronto for five years.

He says there are two main motivations to join the military. There are those who feel a sense of duty or patriotism; and, there are those who join for personal reasons, such as the desire for a full-time job or an adventure.

To best understand the reasons Canadian soldiers enlist, says Shergold, “You’ve got to make a comparison either between war time or peace time.”

Enlisting during times of peace

Shergold enlisted in the navy during a time of peace because of both motivations. “Part of me joining was out of a sense of duty. My dad was 38 years in the navy. My grandfather was 38 years in the navy. And my great-grandfather was 20 years in the navy. So I’m fourth generation.”

But the idea of an adventure was also appealing. “As a young man, I think that was an attractive aspect too, that you could do something that was legal, aggressive and exciting.”

Mischa Moscovitch, 24, is currently a private with the Toronto Scottish Regiment reserve force. He too joined during a time of peace because of both mindsets; he wanted to go on adventures and grow as a person while serving a duty.


Enlisting during times of war

During war, there is a more stark contrast between soldiers who were motivated by duty and those motivated by personal reasons.

My 94-year-old grandfather James Scharf enlisted in the Second World War at the age of 18. He was initially attracted to the full-time job and the steady pay.

“He was coming off the hardships of the Great Depression,” said my uncle Gord Scharf, a captain in the Canadian Forces, about my grandfather. “He mentioned on Remembrance Day he was working the night shift and when he was going into work he was seeing soldiers leaving to have a night on the town. That also attracted him. ‘Why am I working at night when I can work during the day and seem to have enough money left over to have some fun?'”

Jack Granatstein, one of Canada’s top military historians, said personal motivations like my grandfather’s were common during the Second World War since spaces available in the military increased. “There was unemployment and probably for a lot of people it was three meals a day, pay, and that would be an incentive.”

And then there were those who wanted to perform a duty. Granatstein says, “Patriotism was always an incentive. Canadians were very British at that point, and when Britain was at war many Canadians viewed Canada was at war, and it was the duty of every fit man to serve King and country.”

Shergold says patriotism is more evident during times of war. “When the Afghanistan conflict was on it was similar to World War II in the sense that you’re going to go and kill someone, it isn’t just training. So you have a different catchment of people who are motivated in that manner and want to stand up for their country.

In peace time you’re going to have that easier difference, without a call to duty like war, you’re going to have a career, something that is unique or adventurous.”

Today’s military

Moscovitch says since the number of spaces in the military decreases during times of peace, joining the Forces today is challenging. “The Canadian military is a vigorous application process, they have to accept you. You have to be in perfect shape, it’s very demanding physically.”

This past summer, he was on base for two months taking a specialization course. “You’re sleeping in trenches, sleeping in the forest, being woken up by flash grenades at 3 in the morning.”

Moscovitch emptied his backpack to display some of the gear soldiers carry around in the field.
Shergold said a soldier’s motivations to enlist come into question when conflict becomes real. When he was in the navy, “Some of the exercises we did were very close to reality, firing torpedoes and sinking ships. It’s when you’re that close to it that you come to realize really fast if this is what you really want to do in your life.”


How important is the youth vote?

Canada will vote for our next Prime Minister a week from today (October 19), and it’s really freaking important that we youths exercise our democratic rights.

At the 2011 election, only about 38% of 18-24 year olds cast a ballot, and only about 18% of Canadians voted for the current Harper government (watch this amazing video); Harper’s Conservatives won by only 1.3 million votes.  CBC says there are almost three million 18-24 year olds eligible to vote this year; if all three million of us turn off Netflix for 10 minutes next Monday and drag our lazy asses to a polling station, we could CHANGE CANADA.

And for the love of all that’s good and holy please don’t use the phrase “I’m just one person, my vote doesn’t matter.” Every vote counts. If you don’t believe me, believe Canadian comedian and all around brilliant dude Rick Mercer; take 5 minutes and read or watch this to find out just how important your single vote can be.

Convinced? Good. Now you need to figure out who to vote for.

(If you don’t feel like reading everything, there are great resources I’ve attached at the bottom)

As a disclaimer, I really really really dislike Prime Minister Stephen Harper both as a person and as the leader of our amazing country. I haven’t written it yet, but I can all but guarantee that his section will be the longest; you’ll see why.

I’ve included tons of links to articles by journalists better than me who explain my points better than I do. Feel free to click on them to become even more informed.

The Conservative Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper

On the surface, a lot of the Conservatives’ platform points sound promising. The party’s goal is to create 1.3 million jobs by 2020, stimulate the economy by investing $750 million per year, and balance the budget every year. They will reduce the small business tax rate from 11% to 9% and increase contributions to RESPs.

But. BUT. Over Harper’s past nine years as our esteemed Prime Minister, a lot of shit has gone down. The most publicized issue was the Senate expense scandal feat. Mike Duffy — Google it, it’s great stuff. I’m going to focus on more recent blunders, but here’s a short article highlighting gaffes farther in the past.

Throughout his tenure — and especially during his campaign — the Prime Minister has avoided and silenced the media. Journalists are the cornerstone of our democratic rights to freedom of expression and the press. We’re the watchdogs ensuring our government is doing what it’s supposed to do.

He doesn’t answer reporters’ questions following press conferences. He’s managed to control the message so well that journalists have even been barred and banned from campaign events, like this Vice reporter was, if they ask ‘unwanted’ questions or don’t side with the Conservative party.

Beyond all of this, Harper started a war on science. He made the census voluntary, so scientists don’t have accurate data to work with. Scientists working for government agencies are banned from discussing their research with the public. A Canadian scientist was even suspended from his job for writing an anti-Harper song called “Harperman.” A union of scientists has abandoned its historical neutrality to campaign against the Prime Minister.

In sum, Harper has made it so he and his government have never answered the hard questions, and he’s repressing our access to information and therefore our democratic rights.

Still, it gets worse. Harper vowed during a campaign rally in April to ban travel to countries he deems to be hot spots of terrorist activity. How he plans to arbitrarily name countries as hotbeds of terrorist activity, I don’t know. But if he’s voted in, if you go visit your family in Turkey next year, you might now be on a list of suspected Canadian terrorists. Peace and love.

He’s using fear politics. He’s made the federal campaign all about the issue surrounding the right of federal service employees to wear a niqab. He’s making Canadians think we need to fight a war on our neighbours; he hired an Australian strategist purposely to employ the use of fear. He’s made it incredibly challenging for refugees to get safely to Canada. He proposed the introduction of Bill C-51, a piece of legislation focused on anti-terrorism that will increase police powers in Canada, another instrument of fear politics that will increase government powers.

Lastly, Harper backed out of the Kyoto protocol, which was a legally binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and he sold the majority of our Alberta oil sands to Chinese-owned companies. The oil sands, apart from our freshwater lakes, are one of Canada’s most valuable natural resources, and we no longer control them. He’s also used up much of Canada’s limited credit with the United States and President Obama by focusing Canada-U.S. discussions on the the Keystone XL pipeline.

Now, I’ll stop ranting about Mr. Harper. If you’d like to learn more about his dictator-like actions (such as his despicable treatment of our Aboriginal population), read this fabulous  iPolitics article.

The Liberal Party and Justin Trudeau

All of the Conservatives’ attack ads against Mr. Trudeau have been based on the commonly held belief that the 43-year-old isn’t ready to lead a country. He became a Member of Parliament in 2008, prior to that working as a teacher and advocate.

As the son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Mr. Trudeau has been accused of riding on his father’s coattails. He’s been accused of being just a pretty face.

His campaign is very youth-focused. A few weeks ago, Mr. Trudeau spoke at a Vice media event about how important it is for youth to vote. He’s pledged $1.5 billion over four years to help create 40,000 youth jobs annually, as well as an additional $40 million per year to create co-op positions and another $25 million annually to allow youth to get across the country for work.

In addition, Trudeau would increase the amount of grant money accessible by low-income students, and graduates won’t have to start repaying loans until they earn at least $25,000 per year. He would maintain the tuition tax credit.

Beyond youth, Trudeau is all about dat middle class. He plans on reducing taxes on those in the middle class and raising taxes on those in the upper class.

But, unlike the other parties, Trudeau isn’t promising to immediately balance the budget. Instead, his party will invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and transit, and then run at a deficit of $10 billion per year, balancing the budget by 2018/2019.

Other platform points include legalizing marijuana and making it a controlled substance, reforming Canada’s out of date election system, and shift our military from combat missions to peacekeeping. The party will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the amount of Canadian protected wildlife from 1% to 5%. (source)

The New Democratic Party and Tom Mulcair

Mulcair was off to fabulous start, and as recently as as September 24 had 30% support in the polls. He’s now dropped to third place at 24%.

Why the drop? It occurred after the debate in Quebec that introduced the niqab issue. Trudeau and Mulcair both openly oppose banning niqabs for the federal public service, Harper for the ban.

Some of Mulcair’s platform points include opposing the Conservative’s advocacy of the Trans Pacific Partnership, which is a Conservative-supported free trade agreement between 12 countries around the Pacific Ocean. Mulcair vows to end discrimination in Canada and improve women’s healthcare and rights. He promised to abolish the Senate, which has been a source of major contention for Harper’s Conservatives.

Mulcair is open to a coalition government, will raise some taxes and lower others. He will raise minimum wage to $15 per hour, but that will only apply to federally regulated industries like banks. His party has pledged $200 million over four years to create 40,000 youth jobs. He will reduce small business tax and increase tax on big corporations.

Keep in mind that in order for the NDP to get elected, the party needs Quebec. And they don’t have Quebec anymore. Also, if you like Canada as it is now, Mulcair has vowed in the past to hold a Quebec separation referendum.

At the beginning of the campaign trail, Mulcair seemed like the agent of change Canada was looking for to combat Harper. But Mr. Trudeau has replaced Mulcair in the polls, and Mulcair faces an uphill battle. Mulcair said he would defeat Harper at the debates, and that didn’t happen. (source)

Here are some resources

That was a lot of information. If you’ve scrolled to the bottom like I generally do, here are some resources to make your decision on October 19th easier. Again, not voting isn’t a decision. Take action and use your democratic rights.

  1. Platform summaries: (which I used extensively). On this website, you can favourite the platform points you agree with to determine which party you side with.
  2. Party websites:
  3. A great party preference quiz
  4. The best coverage of the election
  5. A great video about how important voting is
  6. Rick Mercer being a gem

A guide to dating someone with anxiety

For most people, dating can be a source of both joy and  confusion.

This is especially true in our tech-driven, hook-up-centric dating culture. It’s hard to really get to know someone through a screen, and it’s challenging to determine where you stand with a partner when dating apps and social media are involved.

And for those of us with anxiety disorder, those nuances of confusion multiply infinitely as we second-guess and overthink every word and action, creating a potentially major source of stress and doubt.

To add a further layer of emotional chaos, there’s still a stigma regarding mental illness. Anxiety can be perceived as insecurity or emotional sensitivity; in reality, it’s not a personality flaw. It’s actually a chemical reaction in the brain that causes negative thought patterns filled with doubt and worry. It takes practice (and sometimes therapy or medicine) to learn how to escape those stressful thought patterns.

Because of that stigma, an anxious person might keep her worries and doubts hidden from her partner to avoid being perceived as needy and sensitive. This is ultimately a horrible idea, because if someone with anxiety isn’t forthcoming about her condition, then her partner won’t understand the source of her insecurities and stress. Her anxiety may instead seem like an unwarranted overreaction.

So, fellow anxious people, I encourage you to be honest. If your condition freaks out your partner, move on. You deserve someone who will take the time to learn how to help you and accept you for who you are.

On the flip side of that coin, if your partner has bravely told you about his or her anxiety, here are some tips to learn how to put your partner at ease.

  1. Do not ever, under ANY circumstances, tell your partner to relax

    If your partner is having an anxious day or an anxiety attack, it means her stress and negative thought patterns have physically manifested. It doesn’t mean that she’s sensitive and emotional; it means she needs help. Telling her to relax or take deep breaths is pretty much like trying to put out a fire with whiskey – it will most definitely make shit worse 150% of the time. Instead, ask her how you can help. She knows best what helps her relax, and will appreciate the care.

  2. Don’t make her wonder where she stands with you

    Much of the time, anxious people are considered overthinkers, which is partly true; we’ll question and incessantly worry about things we aren’t certain of. To make things easier on your partner, make sure she knows your intentions. If you want a casual relationship, tell her. If you want more than that, tell her too. The important thing is being straightforward and honest. Anxious people would rather know the truth than be unsure and second-guess everything you say and do.

  3. She won’t want to seem needy

    Because of the stigma surrounding anxiety, your partner is probably concerned about seeming too emotional or needy. That may make it hard for her to ask for help to clear up worries and doubts. So, to unravel that bundle of stress, show her you’re receptive to her concerns and want to help. If you ask your partner what will make her feel less anxious, she’ll have suggestions for you. It’s all about making your partner feel secure and wanted.

  4. If you care about her, tell her frequently

    If you care about your partner, make those feelings crystal clear. Your affection may seem obvious to you, but to an anxious partner, it isn’t obvious unless explicitly stated and shown. She will be constantly worrying if she’s good enough for you or if you like her. To help, send her a text throughout the day to tell her you’re thinking of her, compliment her, or buy her something small, like candy or flowers. It may seem unnecessary or frivolous, but again, making your partner feel wanted will have a huge positive effect. Sometimes the little things that prove you care are all it takes to put them at ease.

  5. She’s not weak
    Another reason anxious people may not be forthcoming about their worries and stress is because they don’t want to seem insecure or emotionally weak. They need to remember that anxiety doesn’t take away from their independence, sense of self, or strength. Your anxious partner may just need an extra reminder that she’s wanted, awesome and beautiful. Anxiety is an imperfection that makes her human, not weak.

Take the time: Mental health concerns

On Mother’s Day today, I was fortunate to be able to spend time with my amazing mom at a Blue Jays game. She’s a huge baseball fan; after my dad and I surprised her with the tickets, she got her backpack ready in under 8 minutes. If you knew her, you’d understand this is nothing short of a miracle.

But on the way downtown, driving down the Don Valley Parkway, something happened that changed everything.

We pulled onto the highway southbound at Don Mills, and groaned collectively because there was a huge traffic jam. We were stressed about making the game (since I’d spent more than $15 on tickets for once), but remained in high spirits – until we realized what had caused the gridlock.

When we looked up at the bridge, we saw a fire engine. And passing along the shoulder of the highway were two ambulances. That’s when we understood that someone had jumped  off the bridge and committed suicide.

At that moment, there was complete silence. No car was honking, no one was yelling out the window, there was no music blasting. In a Toronto traffic jam, this is incredibly rare.

But when someone jumps off a bridge to deliberately harm themself, it sobers you. It makes you realize there are always worse things. So as we crept along the highway in shock, everyone was polite. Cars parted to make room for other cars. Everyone forgot their hurry.

Though I was paying my silent respects, as a human, tragedies draw out our most innate and disturbing curiosities. I know for as long as I can remember, when I’ve seen emergency vehicles, I’ve craned my neck to see the accident. It’s fascinating, and I know I’m not alone.

The suicide had happened so damn recently that the police and ambulances hadn’t yet covered the deceased with a sheet. We were one of the first cars to pass the body. Even though my mother warned me not to, I looked. I had to see it.

And what I saw was a woman splayed face down on the pavement. She had dark hair, and wore a t-shirt and capris. She looked like she could have been hugging the road but was eerily still. From our position I couldn’t see her face, but I didn’t need to. I saw the blood.

I also saw the first witnesses who had pulled over; whether in vain hope to help the woman or to avoid running over her vacant body, I’m not sure. They were speaking to the police, and looked as traumatized as you can imagine. I doubt they’ll ever be the same.

I know after first glance, my heart dropped through my body. I was shocked by the candidness and how starkly wrong the image was. Of course you hear about suicides happening and may even picture them, but being an eyewitness to the messy aftermath is far different.

As a human, as well as someone who has had mental health problems and knows many people who have experienced them, this was indescribably hard to see. Though I can’t make any assumptions about her life and her demons, what I saw was a woman who ran out of options, of hope, and of possibilities.

When you suffer from mental health problems, sometimes the black fog creeps up and suffocates you to the point that you see no escape. It weighs on your soul and makes you think differently. There are no words to describe how hard it can be to see the metaphorical light at the end of that tunnel. Many fortunate people, like myself, receive help to find that light.

What affected me most about seeing this woman laying dead on the highway was that she must have truly believed she had no access to help. If she had called a loved one while standing on that bridge and asked for a friendly shoulder, would she still be with us? There’s no way to know.

But I know for me personally, having a community of support has been immensely helpful. Knowing you have people who love you and want to see you happy is sometimes all it takes to escape the fog.

As I was sitting at the Blue Jays game, watching my parents cuss at the umpire (as you’re wont to do in Toronto), I felt blessed, and then I felt guilty. A person received a life-changing phone call from the police earlier today and discovered the woman on the highway – a loved one – had made an irreversible choice. That person who picked up the phone would never again be able to sit across the table from her and enjoy a meal, watch her laugh, and discover her quirks. I’m grateful that I got to do those things with two of my favourite people today, though I wish that woman had another chance to do the same.

On days like today when we appreciate and spend time with our loved ones, it’s an important reminder that we need to stay in touch. We need to check in with the people we care about to make sure that things are okay, or at least are tolerable; if they aren’t, we need to offer a friendly shoulder.

So I implore you to reach out to the people you love. Suicide can be avoided. I’m incredibly saddened that the dark haired woman in the capris and t-shirt thought she only had one path available, and ended up being covered with a sheet. If someone is experiencing these problems, the mere offer of a friendly face and open arms can be all it takes to change their life.

If you’re having thoughts of committing self-violence, please call this hotline in Canada: 1 (866) 996-0991. And if you believe a loved one is experiencing mental health issues, all it takes to change their life is the offer of help. Here are some resources to learn more.

A glimpse into the (confused) female mind

“What do women want?” is a question that’s likely been asked by puzzled men trillions of times, and the response, “Couldn’t tell you, man,” has been repeated by the sympathetic friend almost as often.

And guys, you’ve been suffering long enough. I’ll let the cat out of the long-sealed bag.

Are you ready? Here it is:

We want to be happy. It’s as simple as that.

Now, I’ll admit each woman’s definition of “happy” may vary. But if you care enough to want to make a woman happy and actually take the time and energy to ask what makes her happy, you’re likely going to find yourself on her good side and on a path to possible success.

If a woman says chocolate makes her happy, buy her a damn chocolate bar. It’s that simple. Listening to what she says and then acting on it will gain you so many points in the female’s mind.

And here’s a bonus suggestion: surprise presents (almost) always work. Seriously, flowers run at about $5-8 at your local grocery store, and you’re going to get a smile; just make sure she’s not allergic first.

Now that I’ve cracked the secret code, I’ll share something else:

Women don’t understand what you people want from us either.

I’ve read magazines and blogs, talked to a lot of ladies and even asked multiple guys. It may surprise you to find out every person says something different.

“Guys want an easy woman who wants sex all the time.” “Guys want a woman who keeps him thinking.” “Guys want a woman who reminds him of his mother so he feels safe.” “Guys want a woman who looks like Megan Fox.” “Lady on the streets, freak in the sheets.” “Boobs.” “There’s nothing sexier than a woman with a brain.”

The list is infinite. But you can see how we might get confused; one minute you weirdos prefer to see cleavage and the next you want us to cover up. One minute you like us and the next you prefer that girl from Tinder. The confusion never ends.

And if — God forbid — we ask you what you want too soon after meeting, you think things are getting too serious and take a step back. And if we simply act like ourselves and tell you what we’re looking for, it’s too honest; and again, you take a step back.

I recognize changing yourself to attract a man contradicts feminism and is non-progressive, but women still do it. Why? Because we want to be happy. And for some reason, hairy, smelly, gassy men sometimes make us happy.

And we want to find a good one. One that wants to make us happy. One that buys a woman flowers as a surprise and tells her she looks pretty. Because no matter how progressive a woman is, it’s always nice to feel wanted and beautiful.

So while you may think it’s a challenge to discover what each individual woman wants, it’s really not that hard. Take the time to ask her. Really, dude, that’s all you have to do. And then, maybe, tell her what you want too, because in all likelihood she’ll be wondering what you’re looking for from her. If she can get a glimpse into your mind and she sees you care, it’ll help her to calm the hell down.

And once everyone’s honest and knows what the other person wants, it’s a whole heck of a lot easier to relax and really get to know each other.

Because that’s what guys want, right?

A rant about cell phones

I love my iPhone. It wakes me up with bird chirps when my sleep patterns are at the right stage. It lets me set second and third panic-inducing alarms for when my nice bird chirps blend into my dreams and don’t flutter an eyelash.

I’ve grown up through the progression of the cell phone, from brick-like BlackBerry to sleek smartphone. It’s been a fascinating journey. They really can do anything for you nowadays. I can check the weather without looking out my window. I can take hundreds of selfies and send them to my friends for free (as long as I have WiFi).

Really, they’re the handiest of devices. But I resent the pesky little things for many reasons. And before you accuse me of being a grandma or being nostalgic for the 90’s, just listen to my logic.

1. They’ve made the wonderful awkwardness of house phones unnecessary

And that’s really a shame. Before everyone you knew had a cell phone (like I’m talking way back, circa 2007), contacting your friends and family had to be done via the home phone, a device now antiquated in our smartphone age. In case you forget what a home phone is, here’s the jist: you would call your friend’s house and likely have to speak to his or her parent before actually communicating with said friend. Now while many of you likely found this a painful and somewhat embarrassing experience, I miss it.

Having your friend’s family know your name and trust you is something special. It was comforting to know there was a mom or dad in the neighbourhood you could turn to if you ever had stranger danger. It was a community feeling, and we’ve lost that. It’s true, most of my friends are in their 20’s now and many don’t live with their families. But all the same, I’m not as good at coming up with meaningless tidbits of information to pass the time like I’d have to while waiting for my friend to pick up his or her phone extension. 

2. English has become text-ese

While previously you actually had to use your vocal chords and complete sentences, now, you text your friend “wutz up?” they say “nm, jc, u?” and the conversation is through. It just doesn’t have the same level of involvement or effort. When my mom calls me and actually expects me to converse, I’m often blindsided and answer the phone with a casual “what’s up” that costs me an argument about proper language and manners. 

Basically, the art of verbal communication has become lost. Many of my fellow 20-somethings are uncomfortable speaking on the phone. Calling someone is a tactic that is respected (and often necessary) in the professional world, and if you don’t practice the skill, it can be forgotten. 

3. People aren’t in the present with each other

Walking around Ryerson’s campus the other day, I had to use my panther-quick reflexes to dodge many an unaware text-walker. There were street parades, colourful booths, live musicians, but these people were in their own virtual world. And that’s okay sometimes; I admit I’m addicted to Sudoku and had an obsession with the Simpson’s Tapped Out game. But what happened to experiencing real life and sharing it with those around you? There’s such a stigma against walking up to a person and introducing yourself. It’s automatically assumed the instigator of the conversation wants to get in the target’s pants if they’re of the opposite sex, and that’s a sad misconception. We all need friends.

Especially on the subway, where people are trapped together in hellish temperatures on a speeding locomotive travelling in pitch blackness, it’s strange that fellow commuters don’t talk to each other. We’re all trapped there together; someone could at least crack a joke. But it’s gotten to the point that if you say hello to someone, you’re the crazy one. And the crazy ones are the ones you’re supposed to stay away from.

4. Dating has become a practice of instant gratification

Having recently exited a two-year relationship, I’m absolutely terrified of dating. I was in a relationship when applications like Tinder and OkCupid began simplifying the dating process into a game of “hot or not”. I may be exaggerating, but I witnessed many vulgar messages my single friends received from eager admirers. Kudos to those Tinder relationships that work out; we’ve all heard the success stories. But I think there’s something special in the traditional method of meeting someone in real life, asking them on a date, and seeing how things progress from there. I think it shows more character to walk up to someone and ask them to go to coffee than to flirt with someone you can’t see.

(I’m sure there are many Tinder users who do ask matches on dates and wouldn’t have otherwise met their significant other, but from what I hear, those are few and far between.)

The instant gratification of the Tinder and Grindr world is too simple. And with these applications becoming more and more popular, it’s scary to think that a person you meet in the physical world might rather have that online flirtation where you cut right to the chase. What happened to the art of romance and dating? But, then again, I may just be an old soul using the application wrong. Who knows.


So please, for the love of Mary and Christ Jesus himself, look up from your phone a couple times a day and see where you are. You may see a cute girl you want to get to know better, or you may see the tree you’re about to walk into. As the great Ferris Bueller once said on a beautiful day in 1986, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

What Ontario’s youth should know before the election

Image from

Image from

On Monday I was walking down Church street and I heard a young woman, probably about 24 years-old, say the most terrifying thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

“I’m totally gonna vote Rob Ford for Premier! He was on Jimmy Kimmel! He’s, like, a celebrity.”

At first I thought she was joking, until her friend said, “Oh yeah, he’ll totally legalize marijuana in Canada.”

At that point, I lost all faith in humanity– or at least in a large percentage of Ontario’s youth.

Not only is Rob Ford involved in municipal politics rather than provincial, but even if by some horrible twist of fate he one day became our Ontario Premier, he would have absolutely no authority to legalize marijuana in all of Canada. That is a federal power.

The only thing scarier than the thought of Rob Ford running our province is the fact that many people of voting age in Ontario don’t even know there’s an election on June 12, let alone who the candidates are and what they stand for.

And for those of you who don’t care about politics, or think that your single vote won’t make a difference in the upcoming provincial election, I have a few facts and statistics that will hopefully change your mind about becoming (at least a little bit) informed.

  • Youth between the ages of 18-25 make up approximately 14% of Ontario’s voting population (1.5 million out of a total 10.7 million possible voters) (StatsCan)
  • In the last Ontario provincial election in 2011, the percentage difference between the victorious Liberals (37.65%) and official opposition Conservatives (35.45%) was 2.2%, or just 95,000 votes (StatsCan)
  • Out of a possible (approximately) 10 million voting-age Ontarians, less than half (4.3 million) actually voted in 2011
  • If all 1.5 million 18-25 year olds vote this year, they would therefore have the ability to swing the result

Your next question is probably: so what? Why should I vote at all? Nothing really changes, and even if it did, it wouldn’t impact me.

And, hopefully, the brief guideline below of the three major parties’ platforms will help you decide to care who governs the province of Ontario.

SIDEBAR: You may wonder why I’m not including the Green Party as a real option for Ontario. Mike Schreiner and his provincial Green Party do not have a platform nearly as detailed (and viable) as those of the other 3 parties. As the name suggests, the focus is on environmental policy. If you go here, you will find that the values of this party aren’t sufficient to run a province as intricate as Ontario. Healthcare isn’t even on the agenda.

Before I highlight each party’s platform, there’s something you should keep in mind: every political party will become corrupt. That’s not an exaggeration. In some way or another, power will overshadow the original values of the party, and when it inevitably happens, there will be a scandal.

I’m not only speaking about the recent provincial Liberal party scandals; I’m also referencing the corruption of the Fords at the municipal level, as well as the many scandals surrounding the federal Conservative party. The list goes on. Because when you’re dealing with the amount of money and resources available to Canadian politicians, a bad decision will be made here and there.

Ontario’s GDP is more than that of most countries (World Bank). With the knowledge that no party is perfect and they will most definitely get something wrong, consider the candidate/party that represents your values and deep-seated beliefs. Democracy is our system for a reason; there are checks and balances in place to prevent catastrophe. The candidates are accountable to the people, not the other way around.

So, with these thoughts in mind, consider the following candidates and their parties and research them more (because in no way am I providing the full story). Match their ideals with your own, and for Pete’s sake VOTE for who you think would be best suited to run our mini-country that is Ontario. Because, as you’ll see, many of their platform points will affect you. We have the ability to make change, so make your opinion an informed one.

The Liberal Party

  • Before you focus on the scandals, focus on the values and main goals of the party: affordable post-secondary education, universal healthcare (and maintaining our healthcare system), environmental responsibility, job creation and using tax money to subsidize the costs of living
  • They plan on keeping the 30% off Ontario tuition program, which is pertinent to youth
  • They are also planning on implementing a $3.5 billion jobs fund
  • To read more on Kathleen Wynne’s platform, go here
  • Party Backgrounder: Liberals are farther to the left than the Conservatives, but not as left as the NDP. What this means is the farther “left” a party is, the more involved it aims to be in the economy. NDP’s want to control many more aspects of Canadian life to a far greater extent than Conservatives; this means (if the NDP were in power) there would be more government funding programs, a more supervised economy, etc. Liberals want to enforce equality of opportunity, and will offer more help than the Conservatives, but not as much as the NDP.
  • In terms of background on their recent (multiple) scandals, read this story
  • The jist is that under former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, a lot of money was unnecessarily spent on numerous things, and the records were both hidden and destroyed
  • How much money, you ask? No one knows exactly. You’ll hear many different amounts, but it’s in the “holy f*&# you’re joking” range
  • Although Wynne wasn’t in control at the time, many of the more prominent Liberals have stayed on after McGuinty bowed out

The Progressive Conservative Party

  • As I mentioned above, the PC party is farther right than either the Liberals or NDP; this means (at a very basic level) that they want to reduce taxes, reduce government funded programs (most notably including pension plans), and stimulate the economy so it can function soundly without much government interference
  • Their main values also include: creating a competitive economy with greater entrepreneurship; cutting costs and maintaining a tight budget; reducing overall spending on social programs; and, basic family values (which included the abortion debate and vying for greater religious devotion in the past; these haven’t been platform issues recently)
  • Tim Hudak is the leader, and these are his main goals: to create a million jobs, cut taxes by 30% (by eliminating 100,000 public service jobs and replacing a corporate welfare program, in addition to other steps outlined here)
  • He is also going to eliminate the 30% off tuition program
  • To read more on Tim Hudak’s platform, go here

The New Democratic Party

  • Historically, the NDP have been far lefter than the Liberal or PC parties; they are considered socialist in their value system
  • Socialism, at its most basic, is a system dedicated to a high level of involvement in many aspects of public and private life. For example, they seek to expand public health care and increase funding for social assistance programs (like unemployment programs, re-entry, etc.)
  • Andrea Horwath is the leader of the NDP party, and her main platform points are: to cut small business tax and increase corporate tax; take HST off hydro bills; freeze Ontario tuition
  • To read her platform go here
  • It’s also important to mention that her focus is on childcare, education and the environment; her healthcare policies are far from specific, as are her budgeting plans

To read more on how this vote will affect students, go here.