COVID recovery was on young peoples’ minds during the campaign
By Diego Flammini
With the results of the federal election just over one week old, Farms.com connected with young voters in the Canadian ag community to discuss their views on the campaign trail leading up to election day.
Sarah Bannon is a first-year food and agricultural business student at the University of Guelph.
The 18-year-old voted federally for the first time this election. She opted for a mail-in ballot as she’s originally from the Dufferin-Caledon riding.
Casting an official ballot is much different than discussing voting in high school, she said.
“It was harder to make a final decision than I thought it was going to be,” she told Farms.com. “In high school civics classes, it always felt like the decision would be easy, but there’s a lot of things to consider when voting.”
The party leaders touched on multiple issues along the campaign trail including housing, the climate and Canada’s pandemic recovery.
How the country continues to recover from COVID-19 factored into how Bannon voted.
“The most important issue for me was the COVID response and how to keep everyone safe in the future,” she said. “Job creation was another issue that stood out to me.”
Those issues were among ones which factored into how another Canadian youth voted.
Dylan Watt is a 20-year-old agribusiness student at the University of Saskatchewan.
He looked for how party leaders planned to help him and others like him be successful in the future.
“I was looking for them to talk about how they’re going to keep everyone safe, how we’re going to get back to reality and what that’s going to look like economically,” he told Farms.com. “I was looking for what my job sectors are going to look like and what Canada will look like if I have kids.”
Watt was also looking for agriculture to be mentioned during the campaign trail.
The industry is a large part of Canada’s economy but wasn’t given much of a spotlight, he said.
“There’s always a need for the ag industry, but what changes could be coming because of the climate?” he said. “I found the attention to ag was lacking. We saw some stuff from our local MPs but it definitely wasn’t on the list of things the leaders really included.”
Bannon and Watt are part of a Canadian demographic not known for its political participation.
Voter turnout data for the 2021 election from Elections Canada isn’t available yet. But in 2019, only 53.9 per cent of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 cast ballots.
The highest voter turnout that year was in the 65-74 age bracket. Almost 80 per cent of Canadians in that demographic voted.
Young Canadians may not vote because they feel their concerns aren’t heard at a local level, Bannon said.
“There’s definitely a focus on older adults,” she said. “I had an encounter with a local candidate, and she made no effort to speak to my brother and I. That experience made me feel like she didn’t really value the youth issues and didn’t want to put effort in to get my vote.”