Photo: There's nothing like the first time: Why you should pledge to vote in your first federal election

Pledge to vote for your future on May 2 (Credit: Adam Scotti via Flickr).

By Ryan Kadowaki, Program Coordinator, Climate Change

Young adulthood is full of "firsts". Living on your own for the first time, traveling with friends, pursuing higher education, working your first real job, your first serious relationship, all of these experiences help shape our persona. It's an exciting time as your identity becomes more defined bringing with it new responsibilities and opportunities. While it's easy to get caught up in the demands of the present, it's important to also plan for the future.

Dr. Suzuki always says that it is our foresight which has made humanity so successful as a species. We need to ensure that current decision-making is looking after our future as well as our present needs. This is why voting for issues that have long-term implications like the environment is so critical and why young adults are missing out on a major opportunity to shape the world they will be living in for decades to come.

During the 2008 federal election, young adults had the lowest voter turnout of any age group: 18 to 24 year-olds only cast 7% of the total votes. When you see that stat, it's no wonder politicians don't bother talking about issues young people care about. The message they're getting is that young people don't have an opinion about their future.

What issues do politicians talk about? The ones our parents and grandparents are concerned about because they're voting at a greater than 70% clip. If young adults want their opinions about the future taken seriously, then they need to get serious about the role they play in democracy. You need to exercise your vote and represent your future on this planet.

Why bust your ass now to live in a future that is being severely compromised by short-sighted vision? Think of it as your first contribution to your retirement savings. Investing your vote every couple of years now can have a measurable difference down the line.

Some young people realize that voter apathy is undermining our democracy and will not bring about a more sustainable future. University students have held vote mobs to raise awareness around the importance of voting and to bring young people together. You can also pledge to vote on our website and invite your friends to come along to the polls. We've also put together three questions you can ask your local candidates to let them know that the environment matters to you in this election:

  1. What is your party's plan to help Canada transition to a low-carbon future, where Canadians use less fossil fuel and strive to become carbon neutral?
  2. How will your party ensure that our natural ecosystems, (oceans, forests, wetlands, and the species these support), continue to survive and thrive?
  3. How will your party ensure Canadians can enjoy a healthy environment with clean air, clean water and non-toxic products?

I hope everyone reading this will pledge to take an hour out of their day on May 2nd to vote and help stand up for our future.

April 21, 2011

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