View Full Version : Students raise election issues

13-09-2007, 04:59 PM
Local students are told to "Take Back Your City"

Sep, 13 2007 - 4:20 PM

EDMONTON/630 CHED - Students, through the school associations at NAIT, MacEwan and the U. of A., are being encouraged to get more involved in the civic election through a campaign called "Take Back Your City".

Lisi Monro with NAIT tells 630 CHED News, they fear low voter turn out; especially if its like Calgary, last time, where no mayor race meant a turn out of only 19 percent at the polls ...

"The risk that we run of not having these young people involved is that we'll be further and further getting ourselves into these situations where the voter turn-out is gonna be so low."

Some of the new candidates for city council and the school trustees heard, at a forum today, that student concerns are housing and transit.

Scott Johnston


13-09-2007, 05:00 PM
^ I am so proud of all the city students' associations and their leaders for taking such a strong stand against voter apathy!

13-09-2007, 06:08 PM
Students raise election issues

Duncan Thorne , edmontonjournal.com
Published: September 13, 2007 5:14 pm

The city's main post-secondary student groups are urging candidates in next month's municipal elections to commit to affordable housing, better transit and social services.

"Students need our city to legalize secondary suites in mature neighbourhoods, to ensure existing suites meet building standards and in addition stimulating new supply," Steven Dollansky, a vice-president of the University of Alberta Students' Union, said Thursday.

"I challenge all candidates to ensure that this happens immediately following the upcoming election," Dollansky said.

Affordable housing is so scarce that housing officials believe students are choosing not to file complaints about substandard quarters, for fear they won't find other places to live. One student told The Journal last month that she decided to move only when a cluster of mice scurried from under a couch she was sitting on.

Dollansky spoke out on the housing issue during the launch of a provincewide campaign to get students involved in municipal elections.

He criticized a city plan to provide for approved basement suites in new suburbs before considering them for older neighbourhoods. He said students live in illegal and substandard suites that are mainly in mature areas near the U of A and other post-secondary institutions.

Justin Benko, president of the Grant MacEwan College Students' Association, said students also need social support programs because many of them survive on low-paying jobs while at college. "It is absolutely critical that councillors engage young people on these issues and that young people make an effort to inform themselves and vote accordingly."

Student groups in Edmonton and other centres across Alberta have joined with Public Interest Alberta, a largely union-backed group that lobbies on social issues, to encourage student involvement in the election campaign.

Lisi Monro, a vice-president of the NAIT Students' Association and board member of PIA, said there's a perception the lobby group is leftist. "But their mandate is to be completely non-partisan, and to just work on engaging people in the democratic process."

Monro said PIA has the know-how to help student groups engage their members in elections.

PIA and the student groups have a website, takebackyourcity.ca, on which people can take part in an election-issues survey and in online forums. The Take Back Your City campaign is also sponsoring on-campus candidate debates and will survey candidates about their platforms.

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© Edmonton Journal 2007


14-09-2007, 05:08 PM
Aggressive student voting planned
Campaign geared for municipal election

Fri, September 14, 2007

With the official kick-off for the municipal election just around the corner, representatives from Edmonton's post-secondary institutions are urging students to get out and vote.

The Take Back Your City campaign was unveiled yesterday at MacEwan college, four days before the Sept. 17 nominations day, when candidates are confirmed.

"Edmonton needs to be a student-friendly city," said Steven Dollansky, vice president external at the University of Alberta. "We need to provide affordable housing, expand public transit, and support arts, culture and recreation programs that are essential components of a vibrant and youthful Edmonton."

The non-partisan campaign - coordinated by Public Interest Alberta - encourages students to not only participate in the voting process but to also hold politicians accountable after they've been elected.

"We will be engaging all the candidates by hosting public forums and conducting an extensive online candidate survey on issues that matter to young people," said MacEwan student association president Justin Benko.

"Many students want to see what municipal governments are actually going to do about our environment and want real action to support those who are struggling to go to school, work and make ends meet," he added.

Several candidates attended the campaign kick-off, including Ward 2 hopeful Jabin Caouette, currently a political science student at the U of A.

Caouette, 24, said he would like to see the city put a stop to several unnecessary projects - including the 23 Avenue interchange and new welcome signs - that are a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ward 5 candidate Don Iveson, 28, said that if the student population found a campaign that spoke to them and voted in force, they could conceivably swing an election.


19-09-2007, 11:03 PM
PIA launches election awareness campaign

Natalie Climenhaga, Senior News Editor Gateway
Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Every three years, on the third Monday in October, all cities in Alberta go to the polls. This year, Public Interest Alberta (PIA) wants that electoral tradition to be marked by an increased turnout among the younger demographic.

Last Thursday, the three-year-old advocacy organization launched Take Back Your City, its provincial campaign aimed at engaging young people in the municipal and school board elections.

NAIT Student Association Vice-President (Academic) and PIA board member Lisa Munro explained at the campaign launch that all candidates across the province will be sent an extensive survey prompting them to list what they consider to be the most important issues for municipalities. These surveys will in turn be compared to the ones given out to young people in specific regions so that voters can decide how the responses correspond.

“We’re not telling anyone [anything]; we’re just giving them the tools to analyze whether or not the candidates are responding to their critical issues,” PIA executive director Bill Moore-Kilgannon said. Over the next several weeks, PIA will be holding similar campaing events around the province leading up to the opening of the polls on 15 October.

According to Moore-Kilgannon, the idea of holding an electoral campaign aimed at engaging youth stems from a democracy task force held last March that involved eight different forums across Alberta.

“One of the key things that we heard [coming out of those forums] was that we need to engage young people to recognize how their daily life is impacted by politics and how, through their participation in democracy, they could have an influence as to what type of society they live in,” he said.

However, University of Alberta Students’ Union President Michael Janz noted that a large part of the need to connect specifically with student voters has to do with the simple fact that they are often displaced from their home regions. He stated that approximately 40 per cent of students at the U of A are not originally from Edmonton, and therefore may not see it as their home city.

“I think it’s the students that sometimes have the transient mentality [of], ‘Well, I’m here for my degree,’ or ‘I’m here for my masters,’ but they need to be pulled out and connected to [it] just as much as citizens who grew up in Edmonton,” Janz said.

Ward 5 candidate Don Iveson added that issues are often complicated enough in municipal politics, and they need to be broken down for specific audiences. He noted that students have specific needs related to public transit and affordable housing that aren’t necessarily unique to their community, but that are nevertheless widespread.

“Approaching [young voters] with those issues is an opportunity … to engage them in something that matters more to them than abstract conversations about zoning or the other kinds of things that tend to come up in municipal campaigns,” Iveson said.

Of the municipal issues currently having the most impact on the lives of students and young voters, U of A SU Vice-President (External) Steven Dollansky pointed to the housing shortage as an area of primary concern.

“Our institution is located in a region of Edmonton with the lowest vacancy rates and some of the highest rental rates in the city,” Dollansky said. He proposed that immediately following the upcoming election, councillors should commit to legalizing secondary suites in mature neighbourhoods, ensuring existing suites meet building standards, and work to stimulate the supply of affordable housing.

Students’ Association of Grant MacEwan College President Justin Benko stressed that student apathy was not to blame for notoriously low turnout at the ballots among university-aged voters. Instead, he said, a lack of information regarding the importance of voting needs to be addressed.

“Students aren’t always aware [of] how government affects their lives directly,” Benko said. “We can’t always just expect students to get the information themselves. I think it’s very important to engage students.”

Ward 4 candidate Ben Henderson added that one common misconception is that if the person you vote for doesn’t get elected, the vote was wasted.

“Actually, that’s not the most important reason to vote—knowing that a certain demographic doesn’t vote means that they can be ignored. And it’s really hard to get people’s issues onto the table if they’re not a voting demographic,” Henderson said.

Harvey Voogd, Ward 3 election candidate, echoed Henderson’s comments, and noted that decisions will ultimately reflect the age of the people who vote.

“Traditionally, young people have not voted in any great amount,” Voogd noted. “So people in their 40s, their 50s, and 60s are going to make decisions that are going to affect all of us by default because people younger than those ages don’t come out to vote.”

“We’ve done a really bad job over the last decade or so convincing people that their vote is important,” Henderson concluded.