Students get chance to question candidates
Town hall meeting on federal election
By Leslie Vryenhoek
Memorial students will have a chance to ask the questions that matter most to them in this federal election when the Political Science Department hosts a town hall next week.
Candidates running in St. John’s East have been invited to attend the forum, part of the third-year course Parties and Elections in Canada.
Alex Marland, the course instructor who conceived the town hall, said the timing of the election offered a chance to give his students first-hand experience with electoral campaigning.
“For many, this is their first exposure to a federal campaign. They feel very removed from the process,” Mr. Marland noted, adding that the language politicians use and the things they talk about are not always relevant to youth. “When students listen to election campaigning, they tend to feel that people are talking over them, not talking to them. There are not a lot of young politicians, or even politicians who really talk to students.”
Students typically have a particular interest in certain issues for example, the cost of post-secondary education, the job market and employment issues but Mr. Marland said it’s the mechanics of voting that seem to raise the biggest questions.
“In my experience they have a complete lack of awareness. They’re saying ‘I don’t know where to go to vote.’ They have no idea how to go about it, no idea about the registration list.”
While Elections Canada declined to send a representative to the town hall, they will have a community relations officer on campus to help answer those nuts and bolts questions (see sidebar).
In addition to students enrolled in his course, Mr. Marland is inviting all interested students to attend the event on Thursday, Jan. 19 from 5:30 to 6:55 p.m. in the Science Building, room SN-2036. He also hopes media will cover the event, so students can see first-hand how journalists and politicians interact.
Elections Canada targeting students
Elections Canada is making a concerted effort to reach young voters on campuses across Canada, and register them for the coming election.
“This is very important for students who may be casting their ballots for the first time or who have recently changed their address,” said Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre Kingsley.
According to Mr. Kingsley, an advertising campaign has been designed to target students via television, radio and print. Student associations are also asked to distribute information. The Elections Canada Web site (www.elections.ca) has a section dedicated to young voters as well.
At Memorial, revising agents were on campus this week to register students. Next week, an information kiosk will be set up in University Centre and staffed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. by community relations officers Charlotte Walsh and Zoiey Cobb, both MUN students.
According to Elections Canada, an eligible student who lives away from the family home can be registered in the family’s electoral district. However, students can, instead, register in their place of “ordinary residence” that is, in the riding they have adopted as home while at school.
Once registered, students can: vote by regular ballot at the polls on Jan. 23; cast a special ballot at the local returning office; or vote by mail. For the latter, voters must be registered by 6 p.m. on Jan. 17. Forms are available from the Elections Canada’s Web site or from the local returning officer.
Questions about voting? In St. John’s, call 772-2000.