Chilliwack-Hope federal election candidates, top row left to right, Mark Strahl (Conservative), Kelly Velonis (Liberal), DJ Pohl (NDP), bottom row left to right, Arthur Green (Green Party), and Rob Bogunovic (People’s Party of Canada). (Submitted)

Chilliwack-Hope federal election candidates, top row left to right, Mark Strahl (Conservative), Kelly Velonis (Liberal), DJ Pohl (NDP), bottom row left to right, Arthur Green (Green Party), and Rob Bogunovic (People’s Party of Canada). (Submitted)

Chilliwack-Hope candidates asked how they plan to engage young people

Youth question is second in federal election series from Chilliwack Healthier Community network

Federal election candidates weighed in this week with how they plan to engage young people if elected, in the second question sent out from Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC).

The Chilliwack Progress has condensed their answers into a news summary online and in print, with candidates’ full and complete responses available by scrolling to the end.

The CHC question reads: “If you were elected our local representative, how exactly would you/your party engage young people (specifically indigenous youth, LGBTQ2S+ youth, and immigrant groups) to ensure they are included in policy decisions that affect their lives? Please include a specific example of legislation where this would be important.”

RELATED: First question was about housing issues

Rob Bogunovic, People’s Party of Canada (PPC) said as a teacher he has learned “students get engaged when they are permitted to broaden their perspectives, share their opinions, and cultivate their empathy for the opinions of others.”

This, he argues, is the “essence” of education, and the “antithesis of the indoctrination that now dominates academia, the media, and the political discourse within our nation.”

The PPC would aggressively defend Freedom of Expression, Bogunovic said, and work to reverse ongoing efforts to “strip this right from Canadians, most recently epitomized by the Liberal’s promotion of Bill C-10 and Bill C-36.

“For young people to be engaged in decision-making policies, they must be allowed to speak,” Bogunovic said.

“We would push back against political correctness, withhold federal funding from post-secondary institutions shown to be violating the freedom of expression of their students, and champion the true principles of fairness and respect which have all but vanished from our current political discourse.”

Arthur Green, Green Party of Canada (GPC) didn’t really address the youth question but he underlined the fact that the Green Party was the first political party to call for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the 1980s.

“There has been considerable progress in the ongoing campaign for LGBTQ12+ equality in Canada, with significant and rapid changes to legislation on same-sex benefits, pensions and prohibitions against harassment and discrimination,” Green said.

The Greens have a multifaceted plan if elected, including the repeal of all federal laws and policies that are discriminatory on the grounds of sexuality.

“We believe that consensual sexual freedom is a fundamental human right, and acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ12+ people and identities are essential for genuine social justice and equity.”

For Green there’s still much to do, but the bottom line: “is to love all people unconditionally.”

DJ Pohl, New Democratic Party (NDP) calls it “of vital importance to our society” to include youth in all aspects of government policy “at the earliest opportunity.”

“They have the most at stake for the future and need to be heard at all levels of government. Jagmeet and the NDP have been advocating for this for decades.”

The NDP’s first plan to engage young people is by lowering the voting age to 16.

“The single quickest way to make youth included in policy decisions is by enabling them to elect the representatives making the decisions,” Pohl said.

The NDP plans to reform “Canada’s broken voting system” to proportional representation, so that the distribution of seats in the House of Commons matches the way citizens actually vote. They will take on issues like the climate crisis, ending the blood ban for LGTBQ2S+, or taking action on reconciliation.

“When you take meaningful action, and not just words, on the topics that matter to people, they become engaged because they feel their voice matters,” Pohl said.

“This is how the NDP will engage all youth, and it’s long overdue.”

Mark Strahl, Conservative Party of Canada, (CPC) said when he invited high school students in Chilliwack–Hope to participate in a youth council, it provided a unique opportunity to meet with them, hear their perspectives and insights.

“It’s been a challenging year for Canadians, but the impact of COVID-19 hasn’t been felt equally by all,” Strahl. “Youth unemployment has skyrocketed and stayed high. For our Indigenous youth, there are several barriers that have led to an under-representation of Indigenous peoples in the skilled trades.”

Conservatives will work with Indigenous groups, provinces, territories, and trade organizations to identify opportunities to increase access for Indigenous workers and youth to apprenticeship programs.

“The pandemic has also deepened Canada’s mental health crisis, especially for our youth,” Strahl said.

The Conservative Party has pledged to address the mental health crisis by recognizing that mental health is health, and making historic investments to help those in need.

“The ongoing pandemic has had a unique impact on our youth and as we look to recover from COVID-19, I believe it will be important to hear directly from the youth in our community on what we all can do to help them be successful moving forward.”

Kelly Velonis, Liberal Party of Canada, (LPC) said the Liberals “always have and always will” amplify youth voices to effect positive change in Canadian society.

“Listening to young people about issues that matter to them is an important commitment for me,” Velonis said. “I will ensure that young people in Chilliwack/Hope are heard and have the opportunity to be part of government decision-making.”

Working closely with youth committees in Chilliwack/Hope including Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+ and immigrant youth committees/groups is how she will “ensure that local youth perspectives are incorporated” in government policies that affect them.

“In 2016, our Liberal government made several commitments to youth, including the creation of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, to hear at the highest level of government what young people have to say,” Velonis said.

Then in 2019, the Liberal Party unveiled the first ever Youth Policy, created for youth, by youth, to help young adults better guide government priorities and actions.

“This policy aims to create awareness of diverse youth concerns and ensures more youth have the chance to take part in federal decision-making. It also respects Canada’s different cultures, traditions, and values, as well as its diverse Indigenous youth voices.”

Here are the complete answers submitted to CHC by all five candidates.:

Rob Bogunovic – People’s Party of Canada (PPC)

Teaching Social Studies and Social Justice has taught me that students get engaged when they are permitted to broaden their perspectives, share their opinions, and cultivate their empathy for the opinions of others. This is the essence of education. It is also the antithesis of the indoctrination that now dominates academia, the media, and the political discourse within our nation. Political correctness has muted a whole generation. If you want young people to be interested in what you have to say, say something interesting and then permit them to share their thoughts. Don’t leave their creative and inquisitive natures to languish because you feel the need to dictate what opinions they ought to have.

For young people to be engaged in decision-making policies, they must be allowed to speak. Presently, Federal MPs have been advancing bills that would stifle the speech of all Canadians, and young people are especially vulnerable to such abuse because they often lack the financial and legal means to fight back, and they are especially vulnerable to censure by the academic institutions they depend on.

Marginalized groups have made excellent use of our freedom of expression, freely advocating for their priorities and aspirations. Social media has granted young people a megaphone – a means to converse with large audiences and promote their ideas – and this megaphone must be protected. We can create forums that invite a select few, or we can promote a marketplace of ideas that permits everyone to engage, and to do so on their own terms.

The PPC would aggressively defend Freedom of Expression, and we will work to reverse on-going efforts to strip this right from Canadians, most recently epitomised by the Liberal’s promotion of Bill C-10 and Bill C-36. We would push back against political correctness, withhold federal funding from post-secondary institutions shown to be violating the freedom of expression of their students, and champion the true principles of fairness and respect which have all but vanished from our current political discourse.

Arthur Green – Green Party of Canada (GPG)

There has been considerable progress in the ongoing campaign for LGBTQ12+ equality in Canada with significant and rapid changes to legislation on same sex benefits and pensions and prohibitions against harassment and discrimination. But there is still a lot to do.

The Green Party was the first political party to call for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the 1980’s. We believe that consensual sexual freedom is a fundamental human right, and acceptance and celebration of LGBTQ12+ people and identities are essential for genuine social justice and equity.

Our plans are as follows: – Repeal all federal laws and policies that are discriminatory on the grounds of sexuality. – Work with Health Canada and establish a funding program to support community based organizations offering mental health and well being programs. – Fund community driven education and awareness programs that lead to a greater understanding of intersex realities, and referral programs to direct trans, non-binary and Two Spirit people to appropriate services. -End the discriminatory blood ban. – Ban and condemn the practice of medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children. – Ban and condemn the practice of conversion therapy. – Ensure access to comprehensive sexual health care and gender affirming health care, including hormone treatments and blockers, and gender confirmation surgeries. -Ensure that trans, non-binary, and Two Spirit people, without undertaking surgeries, are able to alter their sex designation on all federally-issued documents. -Work with social services and all frontline organizations to ensure that all LGBTQ12+ young people are cared for and protected. -Ensure that the national consensus is designed to reflect the diversity of sex and gender to ensure adequate, safe and effective data collection. -Require accessible facilities in all federal buildings, including gender-neutral washrooms, changing rooms, etc. while also re-affirming trans, non-binary, and Two Spirit people’s right to use whichever facilities with which they identify. The bottom line is to love all people unconditionally.

DJ Pohl – New Democratic Party (NDP)

It is of vital importance to our society to include youth in all aspects of government policy at the earliest opportunity. They have the most at stake for the future and need to be heard at all levels of government. Jagmeet and the NDP have been advocating for this for decades. As such, our first plan to engage young people is to lower the voting age to 16, allowing more youth than ever to participate in our democratic process. The single quickest way to make youth included in policy decisions is by enabling them to elect the representatives making the decisions!

Secondly, we will reform Canada’s broken voting system to proportional representation so that the distribution of seats in the House of Commons matches the way citizens actually vote. In removing wasted votes, strategic voting, and the chronic misrepresentation of First-Past-the-Post voting, we allow youth to vote their heart and not feel like their voice and vote don’t count.

On a local level, what I am hearing from youth is the need to create space for them in the community. I see a real opportunity to empower youth in the community by supporting and funding youth led initiatives. Youth and marginalized voices need to see themselves reflected in leadership at all levels and we must create supportive space for this. In addition to creating voice at the table space we need to provide physical space that also allows for the youth to direct how the space is to be used, especially for social programming. Additionally, we can create space for youth at every decision level to learn but also to teach, provide perspective, and be directly involved in all decisions that impact them. This may look like shadow or mentor programs, for example.

All this space must also be inclusive and rooted in reconciliation, education and fostering safe and open environments that amplify marginalized youth voices in a way that is not tokenizing. Ultimately, youth are partners and stakeholders in the community and deserve to be treated as such.

The last part of our plan is to have a diverse government agenda that covers topics important to all youth, not just a specific demographic. We will take on issues like the climate crisis and ending the blood ban for LGTBQ2S+ individuals. We will also take real reconciliatory action to mend the damage of residential schools and colonialism. When you take meaningful action (and not just words) on the topics that matter to people, they become engaged because they feel their voice matters. This is how the NDP will engage ALL youth, and it’s long overdue.

Mark Strahl – Conservative Party of Canada (CPC)

For several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I invited high school students in Chilliwack–Hope to participate in a youth council through my MP office. This gave me the opportunity to meet with these students to hear their perspective and insights into the issues that affected their lives.

It’s been a challenging year for Canadians, but the impact of COVID-19 hasn’t been felt equally by all. Youth unemployment has skyrocketed and stayed high. For our Indigenous youth, there are several barriers that have led to an underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples in the skilled trades. Canada’s Conservatives will work with Indigenous groups, provinces, territories, and trade organizations to identify opportunities to increase access for Indigenous workers and youth to apprenticeship programs.

The pandemic has also deepened Canada’s mental health crisis, especially for our youth. Canada’s Conservatives will address the mental health crisis by recognizing that mental health is health and making historic investments to help those in need. With the Canada Mental Health Action Plan, Canada’s Conservatives will:

Massively boost health transfers to the provinces by at least six per cent annually, doubling the Liberal commitment and representing nearly $60 billion more for health care over the next 10 years.

Work with the provinces to invest in mental health as the priority it is with the goal of providing enough funding through health transfers for an additional million Canadians to receive mental health treatment every year.

Encourage employers to add mental health coverage to their employee benefit plans or boost their coverage by offering a tax credit for 25 per cent of the cost of additional mental health coverage for the first three years.

Provide $150 million over three years in grants to nonprofits and charities delivering mental health and wellness programming.

Create a nationwide three-digit suicide prevention hotline.

Make the single largest investment in Canadian history for mental health supports for Indigenous people by providing $1 billion over five years to boost funding for Indigenous mental health and drug treatment programs, including providing culturally appropriate supports.

The ongoing pandemic has had a unique impact on our youth and as we look to recover from COVID-19, I believe it will be important to hear directly from the youth in our community on what we all can do to help them be successful moving forward.

Kelly Velonis – Liberal Party of Canada

Listening to young people about issues that matter to them is an important commitment for me. I will ensure that young people in Chilliwack/Hope are heard and have the opportunity to be part of government decision-making.

I will work with the many youth committees that currently exist in Chilliwack/Hope including Indigenous, LGBTQ2S+ and immigrant youth committees/groups. Ensuring that youth perspectives from our communities are incorporated in government policies that affect them.

The Liberal government has always been committed to issues that are important to young Canadians.

In 2016, our Liberal government made several commitments to youth, including the creation of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, to hear at the highest level of government what young people have to say

In 2019, our Liberal government announced its first ever Youth Policy—created for youth, by youth—to help young adults better guide government priorities and actions. This policy aims to create awareness of diverse youth concerns and ensures more youth have the chance to take part in federal decision-making. It also respects Canada’s different cultures, traditions, and values, as well as its diverse Indigenous youth voices.

In 2016our Liberal government introduced the Canada Child Benefit and there are now 278,000 fewer children living below the poverty line.

Our Liberal government prioritized Bill C-6 to effectively ban conversion therapy in Canada and it was passed in the house of commons by a vote of 263 to 63. The bill will ban conversion therapy for children, bar people from forcing anyone to go through it, and outlaws the profiting from or advertising of such services. A Bill which our current MP did not vote in favor instead he abstained.

In July of 2021the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, established Canada’s first Environment and Climate Change Youth Council. The Youth Council will address the key challenges of our time: fighting climate change, stemming rapid biodiversity loss, and better protecting our natural environment. They will engage on Canada’s top priorities, including achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and zero plastic waste by 2030. Members of the Youth Council will share ideas, voice concerns, and help shape Canada’s environmental policy, while gaining invaluable skills and experience to start or advance their careers.

As well the creation of 1,297 youth jobs were announced in the environmental and clean technology sectors through the Science Horizons Youth Internship Program.

We always have and always will continue to amplify youth voices to effect positive change in our country.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
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Canada Election 2021