Getting Involved in Democracy

The voting age in Canada for a federal election is 18. But voting is not the only way for you to get involved. If you feel strongly about an issue, there are many ways to express your views. Become knowledgeable about the issue by reading, researching and interviewing experts. Write to your local newspaper or post your thoughts on social media. Form a council. Send letters to a Senator or your MP to let them know how you feel. They may want to talk to you about it.

Helping out in an election campaign is another good way to get involved, no matter what your age. You can meet the candidate, help him or her prepare for public events, and help organize supporters. Does a political party interest you? Almost all parties have a youth wing that organizes events and distributes information. Your local community might need your help — you can volunteer for a community association or for the board of your local school, library or community centre. This is a great way to meet your neighbours and find out what is important to them. Community organizations have been successful across Canada in getting their concerns heard by politicians at all levels.

It is important to talk to your family about getting involved, too. Find out their opinions and discuss what issues are important to them. Canada’s system of government works because of its citizens, and you are never too young to become part of it.

TALK ABOUT IT!

What organizations are you part of? Would you like to be more involved? How? Does your school have a student council? How are students elected? What role do they play in the school? How could student voices be better heard (both in the school and in your community)? Talk with your classmates about these questions.

Just because you may be too young to vote does not mean that you cannot get involved. There are several ways to make your voice heard and to enact change.

WORD BUILDER 

WING

from Old Norse wenge (meaning wing of a bird). In English, the word wing means the wing of a bird, but also something that extends from a central base. Consider these sentences:

  • The Canadian art collection is in the east wing of the museum.
  • He belongs to the youth wing of the party.

Because the places to either side of a theatre’s stage are called the wings, English also uses some phrases like:

  • I have no idea what is on the test; I will just have to wing it.

(Note: This slang comes from an actor learning his or her lines in the wings – it means to do something without being prepared.)