PEI

As leader debate rolls, young voters express concern about apathy

People gathered at an event in Charlottetown to watch the federal leaders' debate Monday night, sponsored by Young Voters of P.E.I., say they are not seeing as much excitement as they did four years ago.

'There's so many people who were feeling so excited after the last election'

Young voters watch the English-language leaders debate at the P.E.I. Brewing Company on Monday night. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

People gathered at an event in Charlottetown to watch the federal leaders' debate Monday night, sponsored by Young Voters of P.E.I., say they are not seeing as much excitement as they did four years ago.

Dozens gathered at the P.E.I. Brewing Company for the event.

The six federal party leaders —  Green Leader Elizabeth May, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, People's Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier, and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet — took part in the English language debate. 

The two-hour debate was divided into five segments: affordability; environment and energy; Indigenous issues; leadership and Canada on the world stage; and polarization, human rights and immigration.

'Their vote makes a difference'

Twenty-seven-year old UPEI masters student Anna Bruce said she wasn't inspired by the candidates' answers in the debate.

She said she's still undecided and is looking for parties who will take Indigenous issues, such as the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, seriously.

'There's so many people who were feeling so excited after the last election,' says Anna Bruce. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

"That's what I care about so much and so every time that's brought up that makes me hopeful," she said.

"Every time it's overshadowed by the carbon tax and people complaining about the carbon tax it just makes me so disappointed."

When it comes to the political parties engaging youth, she said they need to do a better job in "giving young people the confidence to know that their vote makes a difference."

Bruce said she's noticed voter apathy among her peers this year.

"There's so many people who were feeling so excited after the last election and who I know aren't paying attention and don't care this time around."

Like Bruce, 22-year-old Brooks Roche from Montague is also undecided. For Roche, climate action and equality were what he was looking for in a party's platform. 

"We have issues such as Bill 21 in Quebec, we have issues that are seeking to divide and disadvantage people who belong to this country."

Roche said he wants to see realistic solutions, especially when it comes to climate change.

"It has to be addressed in a way that is sustainable long-term, and in a way that addresses the severity of the issue," he said. 

"Canada needs to play its part. We emit far more than we ought to."

'It's paramount that young people go out in this election'

He also spoke to the rights of Indigenous people in Canada. 

"It is abhorrent that there are still double digit communities in this country that do not have access to clean drinking water."

Brooks Roche wants to see a stronger stance taken on climate action. (Isabella Zavarise/CBC)

While Roche echoed Bruce's observation about a lack of engagement from younger Canadians in this election, he was hopeful that it wouldn't prevent them from exercising their right to vote. 

"I think it's paramount that young people go out in this election with an open mind, a considerate mind, and try to figure out what they want to do to shape their own future," he said.

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About the Author

Isabella Zavarise is a reporter with CBC in P.E.I. You can contact her at isabella.zavarise@cbc.ca

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