In the Blog

Provincial wheels of youth outreach stuck in reverse

January 8th, 2009     by Andrea Hoang     Comments

Shit, merde, kaka, poop, crap – whatever you want to call it, Ontario Premiere Dalton McGuinty admitted to being in it.

“Every once in a while you step in it,” he joked with reporters at a Queen’s Park media scrum. The Premiere was talking about making changes - again - on the recent restrictions for Ontario’s young drivers.

Although original changes like limiting car passengers were impractical, and arguably patronizing – contributing to what the CBC recently called Ontario’s “year of the ban” – it did succeed in mobilizing over 150,000 youth, who signed an online petition on Facebook . It was a clear example that young people are not apathetic; they just aren’t included or engaged in decision making processes that affect them. Unlike the city of Toronto, the province currently has no youth cabinet or board for the nearly four million children and youth in Ontario.

Let’s face it - politics can be boring. Old white dudes pointing fingers at each other, while change seems to happen at the pace of a snail. But seemingly inconsequential issues like this one demonstrate the potential of, and the need to reach out to young people. And even better, it could be through mediums we’re plugged into. It’s been done by the likes of Justin Trudeau, and, famously, Barack Obama, who has over three million friends on Facebook, and whose twitter has 161,657 followers. Compare this to Ontario’s patriarch, who, yes, banned the use of Facebook on government computers.

We are being sent a message that the government would rather react to, and punish the petty actions of youth, by restricting the number of car passengers we can drive around or banning what are apparently tempting cigarillos (won’t somebody please think of the children?!), rather than making an investment in the meaningful participation of the young voters of today and tomorrow. Youth are constantly accused of being uninterested and lethargic towards civic involvement, when in fact government action is often simply too inaccessible.

But hey, what do I know? I’m just a student, right? But I’ll be watching the next time Mr. Hanky hits the fan.

Mr. Hanky

Tags: in my opinion...

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