Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Vote for Youth: Progressive Values

The Canadian federal election on Monday, May 2 was a big deal for Canadians who saw sweeping changes to the political landscape.

The results: Conservatives 167 seats, NDP (New Democratic Party) 102, Liberals 34, Bloc Quebecois 4, Green Party 1.

The former minority government with Stephen Harper as Prime Minister is now a majority government. The Liberals for the first time in history is not either in power or the official opposition. The Bloc Quebecois, whose official party line is to separate from Canada, has been decimated, while the NDP took almost 60 seats in Quebec. And The Green Party is ecstatic with one seat in the House of Commons.

NDP party leader Jack Layton now represents the Official Opposition. He welcomes scores of new members to his caucus which has swelled from 36 to 102. Included in this list is the youngest member ever to be elected, Pierre-Luc Dusseault who is 19 years and 11 months old.

In an interview he reflects,

"I’m studying politics right now at the Universit√© de Sherbrooke. I threw myself into the race knowing what I was getting into. My goal was victory. I knew I could win. I entered because I was always hearing people who wanted change, people who wanted to send a young person into politics. That’s what encouraged me to run, to propose something new for the people of Sherbrooke....

Since I’m the youngest MP in this Parliament, it’s clear that youth will be important for me, to be, if you like, the representative of all Canadian youth. That will cover education. It will be something that I will work on..." As well, "why not have a [federal] government in Quebec’s image? NDP MPs are MPs that share the values of Quebeckers – social and progressive values. That’s how I campaigned: As long as we’re in Canada, why not have a government in Quebec’s image?"

It's encouraging to think about the new political dynamics in Canada. Many lamented a rather stale election until the NDP and Jack Layton stirred the pot with some innovative vision.