Middle school students grill Winnipeg South Centre candidates on key election issues
Linden Meadows School students pose questions on environment, health, immigration for candidates
Questions about the environment, health and immigration were front and centre at Linden Meadows School Wednesday morning, as students got their chance to talk to three candidates for the federal Winnipeg South Centre seat.
The Wednesday morning hour-long panel discussion was organized to give roughly 80 students, ranging from grades 6 though 8, a chance to hear where political parties stand on key issues ahead of the Oct. 21 federal election.
"I feel really good about it," said student Kendra Pownall,13, who helped spearhead the event at the southwest Winnipeg school. "I think we did … the best we could do, and I think it turned out better than I expected."
All candidates running in Winnipeg South Centre were invited and three showed up, including Liberal incumbent Jim Carr, NDP candidate Elizabeth Shearer and Jane MacDiarmid, who is the candidate for the People's Party of Canada.
Joyce Bateman is also running in the riding for the Conservatives, James Beddome is running for the Green Party and Linda Marynuk is running for the Christian Heritage Party.
Morley Anderson, 13, took the opportunity to ask candidates their opinion on whether they thought last week's climate strike was effective.
"For the most part I did find them to be really inspiring, especially with our NDP and Liberals saying that they went in support" to last Friday's climate march, which was attended by an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Manitobans and was part of climate strikes around the world.
The Grade 8 student said she was disappointed, though, to hear MacDiarmid say the People's Party of Canada does not perceive climate change to be an authentic concern.
"Unfortunately, I was a bit irritated when we had the response that there was no climate crisis. Because there is a climate crisis and we're all in the middle of it, and it's our future."
While some questions focused on the issues, others focused on the campaign.
Andrew Nesbitt, 13, asked how parties decide on their platforms.
"I love politics," he said, noting that his uncle, Greg Nesbitt, recently won the Riding Mountain seat for the Progressive Conservatives in last month's provincial election.
"It's just cool to know what they have to go through to get their platforms, and what they're going to pitch for people to know."
Teacher Colleen Nelson helped students organize the event. She said it was the first time the school has held a panel like this, but she'd like to see it happen again.
"I was just blown away by the depth of the questions," said the Grade 8 language arts and social studies teacher.
"We talk a lot when we do inquiry work about a deep-thinking question, and so many of them were going there and they weren't afraid. They weren't trying to be polite, necessarily — they were really curious about what some of these parties felt about things."
Andrei Chicatun, 13, said while he knows it will still be a while before he can vote, events like this allow youth to have a voice in politics.
"I think it's important because then the general public who can vote knows what the youth … [are] thinking, and what they think should happen."