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by Hema Vyas, School4Civics alumnus
What does the transformed political map mean for urban issues? What does the changing face of Parliament mean in our increasingly diverse city region? Warren Kinsella, one of Canada’s most prominent political strategists and commentators led a multi-partisan discussion with members of Maytree’s School4Civics alumni. Many thanks to the School4Civics alumni for organizing this excellent and inspiring event!
On a steaming hot Wednesday in July, 60 people gathered to discuss one of the more shocking events of this past spring.
Warren Kinsella, Toronto-based lawyer, head of Daisy Consulting and Liberal spin doctor, led a discussion exploring how the federal election resulted in a Tory majority, New Democratic Official Opposition and a historically low number of seats for the Liberals. Depending on your party stripes, you were cheering, jeering or devastated in May, but I know of few people who were not stunned.
Kinsella’s insights regarding the power of (negative) campaigning, the extent to which election timing really is everything, and our party leaders’ styles led to a lively discussion.
One of the central themes that emerged was the alienation of Canadians from the democratic process. With voter turnout at 61% and youth voting estimated to be even lower, Kinsella mentioned that the lack of young voters determined federal election results.
But why were voter numbers so low?
Even with the high turnover of Members of Parliament this year, Ottawa is far from representing today’s Canada. In demographics, experience and style, there is often a gap between what we find compelling and who we see speaking to our needs in Parliament.
An unusually high number of us in the room had been candidates and campaign organizers but still talked about how tough it is to have influence without the usual establishment credentials. The heart of the issue is about getting your foot in the door and then stubbornly remaining in the arena long enough to make a change, any change in politics.
This past election has broadened the appetite for change: It will take both the political establishment’s willingness to adapt and our own determination to get involved for federal transformation.
Will politicians sacrifice outdated traditions to restore their own relevance in Canadian homes?
To a great extent, that’s up to us.