Canada Votes 2015: The 20-year-old's guide to politics

Dec 20 2017, 1:20 am

Twenty-year-olds have a problem – a participatory problem. And it’s understandable.

You’ve likely been berated with statistics about how young people are less likely to vote, join a political party or stay up to date on politics.

But it’s not your fault.

Too often, political news coverage and commentary dwells on the ‘horse race’ element of politics.

The latest poll. The freshest drama.

It’s backwards: political policy ideas are discussed in terms of how they could affect the fortunes of political elites, not you.

PoliBuzz, a new political blog launched in lead up to this fall’s election, aims to change that.

The bottom line is different parties have different ideas about what the world should look like.

And those different ideas translate into different kinds of government policies – policies that in turn affect every dimension of your life, no matter who you are.

If you care about what your job prospects will be, how much cash stays in your wallet or how you get to exercise your freedoms, you should care about this election.


Here’s a primer on how your world could change depending on the outcome of the 42nd Canadian election.

Your wallet

Younger Canadians might not realize just how much income ends up getting paid in taxes – instead of sitting in your bank account.

Here’s an interesting way to look at it: In 2015, the tax and fee bill for the average Canadian family will be the equivalent of all its incomeearned from January 1 to June 10.

So if you’re working hard to set yourself up for a high-powered career, be careful to note what tax plans are being pitched for the October 19 vote.

All parties are careful to avoid highly-visible increase in sales tax (cut by the Conservatives from seven per cent to five), so it’s the others taxes and fees to keep an eye on.

The Liberals are pitching a plan to cut taxes on money earned above $44,700 per year until $89,400, while increasing rates on any income earned over $200,000 per year.

Trudeau has also voiced support for a plan to expand mandatory pension contributions, which come out of your paycheck and could total $1,000 per year at an average income level.


The NDP propose a similar pension contribution increase, but oppose changing income tax rates.

As for the Conservatives, a plan to cut mandatory Employment Insurance payments (which again, come out of your paycheck) is in the cards, but opposed by both opposition parties.

Your environment

It’s no surprise that young people pay more attention to environmental issues than others – we’re going to stick around on the planet for the longest!

The Conservative government is adamant that placing a price on carbon emissions – the favoured approach of most economists – would amount to a “tax on everything,” which would damage the economy.

Instead, they prefer to regulate industries directly, though oil and gas rules have been delayed since 2007.

Opposition parties are more vocal on the environment.

The Liberals have long supported putting a price on carbon, and also propose “Green Bonds” aimed at encouraging sustainable technology development.

They also promise to make it tougher for fossil fuel projects to pass the environmental assessment process.

The NDP have revealed fewer environmental plans other than opposition to the Northern Gateway pipeline, also opposed by Justin Trudeau’s Liberals.

Your job prospects

The economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

All hiring, firing, employee pay and expansion decisions are closely linked to a tangled web of government policies.

What the parties are pitching might have a direct impact on your future.

Through their time in office, the Conservatives have followed a philosophy of lowering business taxes while pursuing Free Trade Agreements to increase the share of the world economy Canada can easily trade with.

The Liberals and NDP generally support more intervention in the economy.

For example, the NDP propose further increasing the amount of public money directed to supporting the automotive and aerospace sectors.

Under an NDP government, a cut in the small business tax rate is also in the cards, balanced out by an increase in the larger business rate.

To boost jobs in the trades and engineering sectors, Trudeau’s Liberals propose a large infrastructure spending program that would see the federal government spend more on public transit.

Your personal freedoms

Like it or not, governments use their powers to place bounds on what activities you can and can’t do. A number of activities are up for debate in the 2015 election.

Most controversially, sharply contrasting stances on marijuana are being pitched by all parties.

The Liberals favour legalizing the substance, creating a regulated industry like any other.

They believe marijuana’s health effects do not warrant prohibition and that status quo doesn’t make it harder for kids to get.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Conservatives maintain that pot is harmful enough to warrant continuing its tough approach.

The NDP split the middle by proposing decriminalization as opposed to full legalization.

Assisted suicide is another issue to watch.

Though it isn’t being debated on the campaign trail (for now), Canada’s next government will be tasked with re-writing our laws on the matter after a ban on the practice was struck-down by the Supreme Court.

The Conservatives can be expected to introduce the most restrictive law of the three parties, while the others have yet to articulate how they would proceed.

If the election was held today, which party would you vote for? in Vancity Buzz Polls on LockerDome
DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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