Photo By: Brock University Students’ Union

The Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) is holding a town hall that will give students a chance to speak directly with local federal election candidates in the St. Catharines and Niagara Centre ridings.

As the federal election draws nearer, BUSU is looking to engage students with a primarily online town hall that will be streamed on their Facebook page on Sept. 17. The town hall will be the culmination of an education campaign BUSU is providing that involves answering questions surrounding how to vote and why voting is important, without pushing anyone in a certain partisan direction. 

The platform is supposed to encourage students to get politically active, with the election serving as a chance to start engaging on their own behalf. 

“I’ve described it to people as a BUSU facilitative platform for candidates to speak to students directly. This is in no way, shape, or form an adversarial thing — It’s simply information sharing and giving [the candidates] face-to-face interaction with students at Brock,” said Sydney Sloane, Advocacy Coordinator at BUSU. “Trying to figure out how to vote, why to vote and who to vote for is unnecessarily complex and nuanced. We’re hoping that through this education campaign and the town hall on the 17th we can demystify that a bit for students.” 

There will be eight candidates in total at the town hall; four from the St. Catharines’ riding and four from Niagara Centre. Individual candidates involved in the event include: Liberal Party candidates Chris Bittle and Vance Badeway, Conservative Party candidates Krystina Waler and Graham Speck, Kurtis McCartney and Catherine Rhodes from the Green Party as well as Melissa McGlashan and Trecia McLennon of the New Democratic Party (NDP). 

“A lot of students don’t realize you can vote in your campus riding, they don’t have to vote back at home. You can vote in St. Catharines and Niagara Centre. This is an opportunity for them to know exactly what is happening here where they’re going to be living for the next few years. It’s the first election for a majority of our students, so this is the first opportunity for them to actually dip their toes in the political process and see what it’s all really about,” said Austin Hurley, Vice-President of External Affairs at BUSU. 

People under forty make up 40% of the electorate in Canada, with 18-29 year-olds making up 20% of that. Young people not turning out during elections is a story that’s told every time one comes around, but BUSU is hoping an event like this can nudge hesitant student voters in the right direction,

“It feels like it doesn’t impact us, but it does. The fact that we’re just throwing ballots away isn’t doing anything to fix that,” said Sloane. 

BUSU is making it clear that youth are just as important as other voters, and that collective action is the way forward if young people want to secure a future that they have a say in.  

To view the livestream of the town hall on BUSU’s Facebook page you can click here. The Niagara Centre candidates will be from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., and the St. Catharines candidates will follow from 11 a.m. – noon.