What Ontario’s youth should know before the election

Image from cbc.ca

Image from cbc.ca

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.