Guelph riding hopefuls engage youth at first all-candidates event

Three of the four main parties were represented at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School to answer questions from students

Health care, housing and education dominated the first official candidates’ debate in the riding of Guelph in next month’s provincial election.

Raechelle Devereaux (Liberal), James Parr (NDP) and Mike Schreiner (Green Party) responded Thursday afternoon to law students at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School.

Ontario PC candidate Peter McSherry was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances.

It was more of a question and answer period than a full-scale debate on the issues.

However, everyone was given the opportunity to respond to any comments made after the hour-long event.

“I’ve always found that students have a huge influence on their parents’ vote,” Schreiner told GuelphToday afterwards.

“They take their opinions home, and I’ve even had adults come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know who to vote for, but my son or daughter told me to vote for that person.””

“All of our parties now have their platforms,” Parr added. “But hearing it directly from us gives them that human edge to make them more involved in politics and help us get our ideas out there.”

“It was really important to talk (about party politics, the role of an MPP and more) with young people because we have never been more disengaged from politics than we are now as a society. whole,” Devereaux said.

All three seemed to agree with many of the issues presented: strengthening health care and mental health supports and dealing with the rising cost of housing.

Each also looked at the threat posed by climate change

Education was also a priority, with the three wanting to scrap mandatory online learning and support financial literacy, including the introduction of a mandatory stand-alone financial literacy course at school.

Students and staff from Bishop Macdonell High School and St. James Catholic High School attended, while other high schools in the city watched virtually.

“Learning who can represent you, what they represent and what you would like to see in your government can help you find representation in your government,” said Bishop Macdonell grade 11 student Mariana Lall.

“It can help you stand with a government you see yourself in.”

She was one of 15 to 20 students who helped organize Thursday’s event, and many arrived as early as 6:45 a.m. to set things up.

“We are very committed to civic education and democracy in action, and we want students to participate. Responsible citizenship is at the heart of Canadian and world studies,” said Peter Martin, teacher and head of the Canadian and world studies department at Bishop Macdonell. .

“There’s no better way than to engage students in an activity that truly engages them with the people who want to lead. This is a demonstration of that.”

Martin said the event was cordial, something that could change as Election Day approaches, but he felt it was good for students to bring issues important to them to the fore.

“They are the next generation of voters, and just putting it in their hands gives them greater ownership,” he added.

“We currently have students in our school who are eligible to vote in this election, so it is equally important that they broadcast live throughout the school, so that these messages can be received.

“I hope something these contestants said really touched these other students.”

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