'We should stand behind what we believe': What some Winnipeg millennials want to see this election

Millennials now make up the largest group of potential voters in Canada, meaning they could have a big impact come election day. 

Climate change, education rank high on young voters' priorities

Laura Cameron, 25, said climate change and social inequality are key issues she's looking at during this federal election. (Travis Golby/ CBC)

When thousands of people rallied outside the Manitoba legislature for the climate strike two weeks ago, Laura Cameron was there. 

"It was exhilarating," she said. "I was wearing only a T-shirt and I realized like by 5 p.m. that it was actually really cold  and everyone else was in jackets but I think I was just so energized."

Cameron is among the millions of millennials that now make up the largest group of potential voters in Canada. 

For her, climate change and social inequality have been key issues when deciding where she'll park her vote. 

"It's our generation that's going to have to face … the impacts in a much bigger way than generations that have come before us," she said. 

The 25-year-old works as a community organizer for a campaign called Our Time, a youth-led movement she said is fighting for bold action on climate change.

She said the campaign has identified roughly 30 federal candidates who they believe will champion the cause, including four in Winnipeg.

Cameron said while she plans to cast a her ballot for one of the candidates Our Time identified, she'd still hasn't seen enough from the political parties on the issue.

"I'm participating in this campaign and supporting the candidate," she said. "But … deep down I wish that they were all better and I don't think … any of the parties really like represent a strong enough stance on these issues." 

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, said issues like climate change and affordability in terms of education and housing are likely going to be top of mind for millennial voters.

David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, said it's hard to predict voter turnout. (CBC)

"Millennials alone will not decide this federal election," he said, "but it's harder today, I think if you're a political party that doesn't get a … portion of this vote to be able to win an election, unless you win a huge share of older generations' votes."

Coletto said while there was a boost in younger voters in the 2015 federal election,  it's hard to predict whether millennials will turn out to vote in big numbers on Oct. 21. 

He thinks there's a chance for lower voter turnout across the board. 

"Up until now it just feels that voters of all ages haven't been as engaged in this election," he said.

Yusur Alhassani said investment in post-secondary education is one of the most important issues heading into election day. (Walther Bernal/CBC)

Yusur Alhassani has been doing research to see where the parties stand on issues that matter to her. 

The 27-year-old, who immigrated to Canada with her family in 2009, now works for a settlement agency that helps youth and their families. 

Alhassani said she's looking at how parties plan to make post-secondary education more affordable, so people aren't carrying heavy debt loads upon graduation. 

She would also like to see investment in programs that make it easier for newcomers to have their work credentials recognized in Canada.

"It is important for people to be independent and count on themselves and it all starts with having a good paid job," she said. "I personally believe education helps with getting a good job … whether that is for new skilled immigrants or students."

While she is a decided voter, Alhassani said her vote could be swayed before election day. 

In the meantime she said to implement change, people need to vote. 

"I think we are privileged here in Canada that we have the right to vote," said Alhassani. "In other countries people fight for the right to get their voices heard so I think we should use this privilege and we should cast our votes. We should stand behind what we believe is important to us." 

Deklan Michie said he's still an undecided voter. (Warren Kay/CBC)

At 19 years old, Deklan Michie knows he wants to vote in this federal election, but he's still not sure for who.

The creative communications student at Red River College is still learning the party platforms, but like Cameron he knows policies on climate change will be a factor in how he votes.  

"That's definitely the top of my priority list as a young person," he said.

Michie said he's looking for a party leader who is transparent and honest. 

"I think we see a lot of politicians that kind of have a facade and they put on this face and we learn over their years in office or through their campaign that maybe what they're vouching for is not always exactly true to their values," he said.  

In the final week of campaigning, he hopes to see parties focus on their platforms, rather than their rivals. 

"So I can get a real strong idea of what they stand for, rather than focusing on how the other party and their opponents' parties are bad," he said.

"This week I just really want to become super educated about what each party is standing for."


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