Corner Brook students take action against Bill C-23

Cory Hurley
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Students in Corner Brook took action against Bill C-23 Tuesday.

At Grenfell Campus, Memorial University and across the city at the Western Regional School of Nursing, students were educating their peers about the dangers of the unfair elections act.

Let People Vote — a national day of action to stop the act — saw people signing the online petition, joining people across the country in defending their right to vote.

Elections Canada has identified a number of initiatives with potential to increase youth voter turnout, including polling stations on campus, the use of voter information cards and campaigns targeting youth. It is said that Bill C-23 would put a stop to that, and make it even harder for youth to vote.

“The Elections Act seeks to disenfranchise youth, so it is really important to us to campaign against it,” Chelsea Noel, Grenfell Campus Student Union president, said. She said it would be a shame to eliminate vouching as a way for people to participate in the electoral process.

“It is dangerous to us because we already have a very low youth voter turnout in Canada,” she said. “It is at approximately 38.8 per cent. A lot of people who use that vouching system are students and our youth.”

The president said more youth need to be encouraged to vote rather than creating more barriers.

During the 2013 municipal election in Corner Brook, a number of students were upset after being denied permission to vote or had their political interests questioned at the polling station. The student union filed an official complaint, and the City of Corner Brook made some changes to its election process and preparations.

Those issues experienced last fall highlight the importance of those proposed ammendments, according to Noel.

“Obviously, from what we experienced during the municipal elections here in Corner Brook, there is a huge disconnect between youth and voting,” she said. “I think it stems from the lack of encouragement and the lack of information that is being put out there to youth.”

That should not be the case, according to Noel, who feels more youth should take advantage of their right to vote.

“Politics, voting, it is a way for us to empower ourselves and shape the world around us,” she said. “It is very important, and that bill compromises the integrity of that whole process and democracy itself.”

Twitter: WS_CoryHurley

Organizations: School of Nursing, Elections Canada, Grenfell Campus Student Union

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Canada

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