Vic Sahai's passion for student engagement earns endorsement


Our Process: The endorsement is the result of a vote by The Journal Editorial Board. The Editorial Board considers platforms and private questioning periods with available candidates before making a decision. Due to the snap election and short campaign period, the Board considered candidates who chose not to attend a private questioning period, though all candidates were given the opportunity.

This election, Queen’s students must cast their ballots for someone who cares to engage them. After careful discussion, The Journal has chosen to endorse Kingston and the Islands NDP candidate Vic Sahai.

Sahai earned 12 votes of endorsement from the Board. Of the remaining votes, two were cast for Mark Gerretsen of the Liberal Party and one for Gary Oosterhof of the Conservative Party, with four abstentions.

The Board concluded that Sahai is the candidate we feel is best suited to represent student needs. We were particularly impressed by his promise to hold regular town hall-style meetings with his constituents on local post-secondary campuses, including Queen’s. If he’s this riding’s federal representative, it seems he wants to connect with students—not the other way around.

However, it’s clear from the Board’s votes there wasn’t overwhelming, unanimous confidence in any candidate. Of the five local candidates, only two chose to accept their invitations to meet with the Board.

We know Liberal incumbent Gerretsen is a strong candidate because of his experience as a federal member of parliament, yet he’s failed to excite and engage new and young voters. Gerretsen has done little to represent Kingston’s students in his time as an MP, and he hasn’t shown signs of changing.

We believe that Oosterhof, too, has failed to engage student voters and give an ear to their concerns.

Meanwhile, we must hold People’s Party of Canada’s candidate Shelley Sayle-Udall accountable for her support of the recent anti-vaccination protest outside of the Kingston General Hospital—an irresponsible and undesirable action from a potential MP, especially during a pandemic.

One of the two attendees, Green party candidate Waji Khan showed great passion for the issues he advocated for. He demonstrated a concern for Kingston’s housing crisis and the current climate crisis—issues the Board feels are important for student and non-student voters alike.

Despite his passion, however, Khan failed to provide coherent plans for addressing the issues he cares about. 

Meanwhile, Sahai proved eager to explain how he planned to serve his potential constituency. In speaking with the Board, Sahai offered policy-driven solutions to student concerns, including student debt, housing, and universal basic income. He spoke largely of his party’s planned actions, a stronger and more tangible argument than Khan’s anecdotal approach.

Perhaps most encouragingly, Sahai spoke passionately of the importance of engaging young voters during and between elections. Yet, he has much to learn about some of the issues worrying his constituents—an important part of understanding how to represent their needs.

Overall, none of the candidates inspired the confidence and excitement we hoped for from our potential representative. Gerretsen, Oosterhof, and Sayle-Udall chose not to engage a pool of student voters or make a dedicated appeal for student endorsement.

Still, we believe Sahai will serve Kingston and the Islands well if he combines his drive to connect with constituents with a commitment to better understanding their wants and needs—particularly those from marginalized groups.

Though this election may feel rushed and lacklustre at times, it’s important that students voting in this riding cast their ballots for a candidate who will listen to them. The Board believes Sahai is that candidate.

We agree with Sahai: the most important thing students can do this election is get out and vote.

—Journal Editorial Board

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