That's the question on Alexandria Morrison's mind. With days left before the vote, and undecided, she's been contacting local candidates to see how they'd make Alberta work for all generations. Here's her letter - in case others want to similarly contact their candidates - and the responses she's received so far.
I am having difficulty determining my position in the next election coming in May. As a working mother of two I unfortunately have very limited time to do research, so I felt reaching out to you was a more efficient use of my time.
As a voter under the age of 40, I find that the vast majority of parties cater their policies to the older generations, especially seniors. While I don’t disagree that this a smart political move since these demographics have nothing but time to spend lobbying and doing their political research, I am concerned that younger generations have been forgotten about as a result. Political parties spend more time creating platforms that speak to the loud voices of our aging population and as a result the government spends far more resources on this demographic.
I hear so many people saying that there’s no point in creating policies or platforms that speak to the younger apathetic demographic because we won’t vote anyway. Unfortunately this is a vicious cycle; we won’t vote because parties don’t speak to items we care about and parties don’t speak to things we care about because we don’t vote. That cycle needs to stop somewhere. I am doing my part to get involved and help encourage millennials to care about how our government is run and to start speaking up, but efforts need to be made from both sides.
I want a government that works for all generations. What efforts are your party making to stop this cycle and what policies are you backing that will help create a Canada that works for all generations?
Thank you for your time.
Alexandria Morrison – a very concerned citizen
Editor's note: Alex is also Gen Squeeze's top Lobby Builder for March and an all-round superhuman, just fyi.
Response from Shelley Biermanski (Wildrose)
Thank you for writing to me. The Wildrose has the absolute best policy for young families.
- Wildrose is the only party that does not want to raise your taxes.
- Wildrose is the only party that wants to eliminate school fees.
- Wildrose is the only party that believes equal education funding should be given to each child in the province no matter which type of schooling parents choose.
- Wildrose is the only party has a plan to get the schools built on time and on budget.
- Wildrose is the only party that understands government has gotten to big and wants smaller government.
- Wildrose is the only party with a plan to downsize the size of the Premiers Office.
- Wildrose is the only party that will limit pay for MLA's.
- Wildrose is the only party with a plan to balance the budget by 2017 and again contribute to the Heritage Fund.
- Wildrose is the only party that is willing to better manage spending of people's hard earned tax dollars. Our current government has a spending problem not a tax problem.
- Wildrose is the only party with a plan to better assist funding towards municipalities.
- Wildrose is the only party with a plan that addresses what doctors and nurses have been saying for years is needed in healthcare.
- Wildrose will insure that your children have a positive future and encourage their success.
I was adamant about joining a party that promotes a positive future for my children and their children after. Although senior issues are very important it is about the big picture and the future for all ages. I have lived in St. Albert since 1989 and am passionate about contributing to a better future for all ages. My children are 19 and 21 and I understand their struggles as well. Please trust your vote to me as I will be your best choice.
Have a great day, Shelley Biermanski
Response from Brendon Greene (Green Party)
Thanks for the email. Yes we are on the same page and that is one of the primary reasons that I am running. Recently, I was given a chance to do a 90 second speech for Shaw channel 10 as part of a 30 minute candidate profile segment they are airing this week. During the speech I said "I hope people feel they can relate to me because I'm not an old rich business man claiming to know what the middle class people need."
I also said at the candidate forum last week that I know I'm not going to get elected but my goal is to get people out to the polls. There was no Green Party candidate last election! We are living in an ice age here people. I am running as a federal candidate for the Sturgeon River Parkland riding. My goal after this election is to continue to work towards getting youth to the polls. I'm doing this by starting a new position on the Board of the Young Greens of Canada which is an organization that promotes young voters (under 30) by organizing public events, creating clubs etc. There is more info here http://youth.greenparty.ca
I think you should read this literature. It is called "What parties do to engage and mobilize youth". It is extremely informative, it confirms what you were suggesting that it isn't strategic for right wing conservative parties who have already formed Government to appeal to young voters because A) a young vote is less likely to vote for them and B) the ratio is smaller when less people vote overall. Simple math! If less people vote, the odds are higher that the baby boomers that still do vote, will vote for the bigger two parties that have been around since the beginning of time.
As for what the Green Party can do, well a lot of that is up to me as a potential MLA or MP.
First of all people are hard to reach. It's not as easy to communicate through phone or mail although social media has grown exponentially. A strong facebook Twitter and YouTube presence is essential for a politician to be able to constantly connect with the voter. I think that beyond that candidates should attend events that are appealing to youth, like concerts and hockey games. It should be a priority to schedule youth related appearances. A politician should be a likeable person that people can relate to and so any event that creates positive support from people in that age demographic including schools and universities would be of great benefit.
Second problem is the interests of the voter. The voters need to identify with the values of the party and candidate. The Green Party stands for sustainability. We need to make as much effort to try and get voters to rethink some of the ideas of the past government in order to have them identify with the Green Vision. Communicating with youth and having them identify with our interest are the biggest hurdles for us to overcome. So the Green Party doesn't have one policy that can engage youth, it is a multilayered problem that requires effort on all levels of society. I firmly believe the Government isn't spending enough money or effort promoting young voters and I would change that if I was elected.
I hope that answered some of your questions. If you would like to know anything else please let me know!
Here is a summary of my call with Stephen Khan (PC):
"Stephen Khan was the second candidate to contact me regarding the email I sent. We played a bit of phone tag before finally connecting, an effort much appreciated, but once we finally got to chatting, I found the PC candidate very pleasant to speak with though I felt my questions were never answered. Not once was there mention of any policy or platform item that would benefit millenials. This is unfortunately, however, the call was not in vain.
Stephen held an event for millenials earlier this week and posed the question "What are the areas of government that you're concerned about and what do you want to see me addressing as your candidate" (not an exact quote but I do believe this was the general message). Surprisingly to me, none of the attendees had an answer for him. Stephen then moved on to explaining the difficulty his campaign team has had at finding the appropriate medium to engage and connect with millenials.