Pretty soon they'll be old enough to vote, but they aren't talking much about the upcoming federal election in school – that's according to Winnipeg high school students who gathered at CBC Manitoba's Studio 41 to talk politics on Thursday.
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About 50 students gathered for roundtable discussions, panels and a town-hall style Q&A as part of CBC Asks: What matters to Canada's future voters? with CBC's Marcy Markusa and Sean Kavanagh. The issue at hand – what matters to them when it comes to voting.
For 16-year-old Olivia Fisher-Wells – it's tuition costs.
"You have to have a degree to have a good job and it's hard to get into a good university if you can't pay for it," she said. "I think that's very important."
Fisher-Wells said there has been virtually no discussion of the upcoming federal election in her Grade 12 classes at Fort Richmond Collegiate. They have talked a bit about big moments in Canada's political history, and held a mock vote in the school's library, but outside of that, it's been quiet.
At home, it's a bit different. Her mom, a doctor, and her dad, a pharmacist, are tuned into how the political parties are addressing their fields.
"In a political party they obviously deal with everything … but it's interesting to see when people vote they mainly look at one thing," she said.
Fisher-Wells wants to vote on Monday, but she'll have to wait until 2019 to cast a ballot – while watching people in their same grade get to do it now.
One of the students at Thursday's forum turned 18 on Thursday, but when asked if she planned to vote, she hesitated and said, "Probably," – a response indicative of the level of youth voter engagement across the country.
In the 2011 election, only 39 per cent of Canadians between the age of 18 and 24 actually showed up to cast a ballot.
But 17-year-old Bolu Ajayi said she would jump at the chance to vote.
The Grade 12 Garden City Collegiate student said tuition is a major concern for her – and unlike Fisher-Wells, she doesn't think she'd vote the same way as her parents.
"I don't agree with my dad because he's going to vote for Stephen Harper," she said. "He hasn't really done that much … I don't really agree with that."
Ajayi said more than tuition breaks, she wants to see long-term solutions for student debt.
She'd like to see income tax tuition rebates made available federally, and is tuned into what the federal leaders think about the idea.
"I think that helps a little bit," she said.
But Ajayi said the opportunity to talk about the election in school has been limited to her Global Issues class
"It's the one time we actually talk about elections in schools," she said. "[It's] not enough though."
Fisher-Wells said the appetite among students is there, but the conversations aren't happening at school – at least yet.
"[It's] kind of dumb because we're going to be voting very soon," she said.