‘We want young people’s ideas, their energies, and talents’

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Arthur Ward/The Carillon

Arthur Ward/The CarillonOlivia Chow promotes youth political involvement during U of R visit

Lauren Golosky
News Writer

Olivia Chow loves Canadian youth – and Canadian youth, it appears, love Olivia Chow.

This was evident on Friday, Nov. 4, when the MP from Trinity-Spadina made an appearance at the University of Regina. Executive members from the University of Regina Students’ Union presented Chow with a t-shirt from their “Our Future is Now” campaign, and a student in the back yelled, “We love you, Olivia!”

What Chow presented wasn’t a lecture, but rather a question and answer forum, an engaging conversation between her and her attendees. In fact, she seemed eager to answer as many questions as possible in her allotted hour, opening up the floor to questions shortly after she started speaking. Armed with her sense of humour, Chow spoke a language that the young audience seemed to understand. She addressed issues that were also on the table during the provincial election, such as student debt, affordable housing and rent, and renewable energy.

However, one of Chow’s strongest messages appeared to be youth involvement in Canadian politics. Not only impressed by the turnout on a Friday afternoon, when some students only stay on campus to consume a few beers at the Owl, Chow is impressed overall by the involvement of the young demographic in Canadian politics. She believes there is a new sense of engagement among youth, and that they are getting involved.

“Judging from the questions that were asked, they were very engaged,” Chow said. “They are participating in the political process. In my years of participating in politics, it is from young people that we get the most innovative ideas."

But Chow explained that there is more to political participation than just voting. Post-election, the public needs to continue to participate, to keep the government accountable. She also commented on the variety of ways to get involved, including ways that are extend beyond the political system, such as the Occupy movement taking place across North America, including Regina.

She also suggested that students join political parties, and of course she meant the New Democrats. She would love to see more young people joining the NDP, especially now as the party is lacking a leader after party leader – and Chow’s husband – Jack Layton passed away this August. She joked with the young audience, urging them to get involved and perhaps even run for party leadership. Currently, there are eight candidates running, with the party leadership election scheduled for March 24, 2012.

“It’s a unique opportunity that doesn’t come often,” she said. “We want young people’s ideas, their energies, and talents.”

Chow also passed on a message to the University of Regina students.

“You can make a difference,” she said. “Vote.”

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