Bob Rae speaks about the importance of the youth vote

A large crowd gathered in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Concourse on Sunday afternoon to hear Liberal Party candidate for Toronto Centre, Bob Rae, speak about mobilizing Canada’s youth.

“It’s so important for this generation of Canadians to take hold of the wheel, to say ‘we have issues that we want to raise, we have things we want to do, we have problems we want to solve,’” said Rae to a crowd mostly comprised of Liberal Party supporters, as the event was hosted by the WLU Young Liberals, though the event was non-partisan in nature.

“There was no big promoting the Liberal vote it was all ‘get out and vote’ and they said that multiple times – whether you vote for Greens, NDP, Liberal, Conservative, just get out and vote and exercise that right,” said Drew Redden, president of the Laurier Young Liberals, who co-ordinated the event.

Although mostly attended by Liberal Party supporters, many of the Campus Conservatives were also in attendance, including Ian Merkley, who agreed that the event “was fairly non-partisan although there were a couple of slip-ups.”

Keeping his speech completely non-partisan, Rae proposed many ways for youth to become involved in the democratic process, including door-knocking, talking to people, or running as candidates.

Rae said people are often disengaged from politics because they “feel that politics is something for somebody else,” and because parties aren’t doing enough to connect their platforms to the younger generation.

“It’s absolutely critical for us to connect our policies to what younger people want to talk about and I think it’s up to us to do that,” Rae told The Cord after his speech.

Rae also mentioned making voting more accessible, even going so far as to suggest online voting. “If we can do our banking online I don’t know why we can’t do our secure voting online,” he said.

Also in attendance were Liberal Party candidates Karen Redman of Kitchener Centre, Andrew Telegdi of Kitchener-Waterloo, Bryan May of Cambridge and North Dumfries and Bob Rosehart of Kitchener Conestoga, all of whom stressed the importance of democracy in Canada.

“Get out and vote and consider knocking on the doors for whoever you support,” said Redman to the crowd after Rae had spoken, “Because it is a very precious democracy that we have and I think we’re at a watershed moment and we should all be involved.”

Saad Aslam, vice-president of student affairs at the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union encouraged students to take advantage of the returning office, located on Regina Street, particularly since a great number of students will not be living in the riding once the May 2 election date comes around.

“If you have already decided or you are fairly certain as to how you’re going to vote, I would encourage you to go vote at the returning office,” said Aslam.

For Rae and many of the other speakers, exercising one’s right to vote is sacred to what it means to be a Canadian, and many individuals highlighted in their speeches the importance of playing a role in democracy when so many around the world cannot.

“It’s such a precious thing to have, to have this right to vote to have this ability to decide who will be our government, who will be our Prime Minister,” said Rae.

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