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Musings about the environment and all it touches, from education to city planning

BC elections: we didn’t vote?!

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Another unpleasant finding from the election: low turn-out.  Few people bothered to vote: about 52%.  Much of the low turn-out was blamed on young voters.  I don’t have the final count, but in 2009 only 39% of eligible twenty four years old and younger voted.  And only 69% are registered on the voters list.

Little many people, I’m baffled by this.  I know my students voted – we had a chance to discuss the environmental issues at stake, and they were well informed.

Events and decisions combined into a perfect storm for the NDP: a demobilising over-confidence; a failure to attack the record of the incumbent government; a focused Green vote; and very successful messaging by the Liberals.  But the main factor may have been a failure to get the vote out.

Several pundits have focused on the youth vote in particular. Political scientist Paul Kershaw noted that there was relatively little in either liberal or NDP platforms to attract the young vote; according to his analysis, both parties aimed the bulk of their promises at the older voter.  One can forgive a young person for tuning out to repeated promises on both sides about fixing health care and helping families.  Young voters care about jobs, above all, and many across the political spectrum share the belief that governments ignore them – and who could blame them?  They are stuck in a world of high tuition for college, dead-end job prospects (education or not), unaffordable housing, inadequate public transit.

But I think it’s much too easy to lay the blame on young voters.  After all, the same study reported that when all voters younger than 45 years old are included, the voting rate is still only 42%.  So I don’t believe it’s only about young voters, for the NDP.  But it’s still paradoxical: the NDP should be the party of change, of inclusion of the ones trying to get in, but that failed to resonate.  Somehow, a message didn’t get through.

This is not completely fair, no doubt.  But where was the bold vision that would mobilize voters, young and otherwise?  Never mind affordable (why not free?) education and buses that show up – how about jobs?  Lots of them, green jobs?  Good, well paying, not-soul-destroying entry level green jobs?  Where was that message? The NDP promoted co-op education, making it easier to hire students, and truly that’s great!  But let’s be realistic, you will not get folks to demonstrate in the streets in support of prosaic measures like that.

Ultimately, it’s about jobs.  The irony is that good green jobs are right here, under our nose, waiting to get created.  Waiting to make us wealthy.

Here’s what I pledge to do: I’m going to talk to whoever listens, I’m going to write all over this blog, until I convince people that green jobs is where it’s at.  Right now, we keep missing golden opportunities in this province, but it’s not too late.  Somehow, somebody has convinced the electorate that the only good jobs out there are digging trenches for pipelines.  That is not only untrue, that is a swindle.  This is not where the jobs are.

So please stay tuned, folks.  I promise, I’ll show where the green jobs are.  And maybe we can get the ball rolling.

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Written by enviropaul

May 20, 2013 at 3:41 pm

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