Part 2: What Trudeau means for the youth vote

What the Liberals' plans for Canada would mean for its young people

Beyond being an alternative to Harper, Trudeau's plans for young Canadians make him a worthy candidate in the federal election.
Beyond being an alternative to Harper, Trudeau's plans for young Canadians make him a worthy candidate in the federal election.
Supplied by Alex Guibord

Part 1: What Mulcair means for the youth vote
Part 3: What Harper means for the youth vote

Anything but Conservative has become the mantra of this election. Canadians are desperate for change, and talk of ‘strategic voting’ — that is, backing the candidate most likely to defeat Harper — is in the air.

However, we should focus on finding the best replacement for Harper, not on simply defeating the Conservatives.

Of the three leaders, Trudeau’s focus on income equality, job creation and the challenges facing Canadian youth make him an appealing candidate for young voters.

Trudeau is steadily gaining ground with a clear, progressive message, while Mulcair’s NDP have sunk to third place in the polls. Could it be that Mulcair’s unabashed centrism is hurting him rather than helping him? Or, perhaps, Canadians are tired of misleading campaign promises.

For example, the NDP’s $15 federal minimum wage sounds noble, but upon closer inspection you’ll find that its implementation would only apply to federally regulated positions, such as employees in airports, banks, telecommunications or uranium mines. The overwhelming majority of these workers are already making more than $15/hour.

Such a promise gives false hope to employees in food services and retail, whose wages are provincially determined like 94 per cent of the workforce. Frankly, the promise manipulates Canadian voters.

The NDP still rides the populist wave, but their policies reflect a dramatic shift in values. For the first time, the Liberals are out-lefting the traditionally left party.

Income inequality has been rising steadily since 1999. The average net worth of the top 20 per cent of families, in terms of income, rose by an average of 80 per cent between 1999 and 2012, in contrast with a gain of 38 per cent among families in the bottom 20 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Trudeau’s Liberals are the only party in this election asking the wealthiest one per cent to chip in a little more to cut taxes for the middle class. A strong middle class, the Liberals have emphasized, is a strong economy.

Most students won’t graduate into the country’s highest paying jobs. For us, it will be important that a structure is in place to facilitate our financial success.

While Mulcair, like Harper, fixates on balancing the budget, Trudeau recognizes that hardworking people who are struggling to meet their basic needs couldn’t care less about a modest deficit. Indeed, beyond the political sphere, a balanced budget is something of an abstraction. Canadians need help right now, not eight years from now.

The loonie is low along with oil prices. Now is an opportune time to borrow for investments in infrastructure, healthcare, the environment and job creation.

Young people aren’t a side note in the Liberal plan — they’re a central plank. Trudeau has promised to invest $1.3 billion over three years — 13 times more than the NDP — to create 40,000 jobs for youth every year.

A Liberal government would also establish a Prime Minister’s Youth Advisory Council made up of people aged 16 to 24 to provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister on various issues.

It can be hard enough for voters under 25 to feel like they’re making an impact on large-scale politics. This council would empower not only these youth, but also those still too young to vote to shape the policies of their country.

If elected, Justin Trudeau is also committed to immediately developing a policy to legalize and regulate marijuana.

In the second French-language debate, Trudeau said, “If a young person buys marijuana, it’s because he had contact directly with a criminal.” Legalizing and regulating marijuana helps ensure young people consume marijuana more safely.

To cover our bases, it’s necessary to address the query of strategic voting.

Kingston and the Islands has historically always been a contest between the Liberals and Conservatives. The most recent example was the 2011 federal election, where Ted Hsu, the Liberal candidate, defeated Conservative candidate Alicia Gordon by a narrow margin of 4.4 per cent. Daniel Beals of the NDP earned third place. Imagine if the NDP peels off 4.4 per cent of those voters who typically vote Liberal. If Kingston splits the progressive vote, the Tories will take this riding.

Nationally, the Nanos poll released on Oct. 5 puts the Liberals in the lead at 35.6 per cent. The Conservatives follow at 31 per cent, while the NDP are slipping to 22.8 per cent.

Canadians fed up with a decade of Stephen Harper are left with two serious options — Liberals or New Democrats. Upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that the NDP isn’t your grandparent’s CCF. The days of Tommy Douglas are long over.

The Liberals have emerged with a comprehensive plan to repair the damage done by Harper and bring immediate, progressive change that young voters should take seriously.

Samuel Walsh-Prete is a programmer at CFRC.

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