Fewer than 15 students attended SSMU’s provincial candidate meet-and-greet at Thomson House this Wednesday.
The provincial election – falling smack in the middle of McGill’s exam period, and following on the heels of the federal and American elections – comes at a bad time for students, explained SSMU VP External Affairs Devin Alfaro.
“It’s unfortunate because we wanted to bring potential decision makers to McGill so [students] could gage who they will support,” he said.
Green Party candidate for Westmount—Saint Louis Patrick D’Aoust believed students today feel politically disempowered and urged for election reform.
“It would be nice to get more people here interested,” D’Aoust said. “The only time people are asked [what they think] is during an election. There’s no dialogue.”
D’Aoust said a good place to start would be challenging the Premier’s exclusive right to call an election, which allows the party in power to schedule a vote at politically opportune times. He also suggested increased consultation between politicians and the community throughout their time in office.
Catherine Emond, running for the Liberal party in the Plateau area, was happy to have one-on-one discussions with students.
“It was very intimate. It was nice to have the time to chat to students – to have a real conversation,” she said.
Thirty-year-old Emond thought it was important for young people to engage in politics because their priorities and perspectives can differ from the older generation. She was excited by the idea of representing her generation in the National Assembly.
“Voting takes a few minutes and it’s only a day. It’s a small investment, but it pays off. It makes a difference,” she said.
In her campaign, Emond has highlighted the changing demographics in the Plateau. She noted that the influx of new families in the area necessitates day-care services, breastfeeding rooms, and stroller-friendly sidewalks.
“The moms and dads of today aren’t the moms and dads of yesterday,” she said.
Québec Solidaire candidate for Westmount—Saint Louis Nadia Alexan downplayed the importance of her party’s pro-sovereignty agenda to curious students.
“We don’t have the same cowboy ideology they have in [western Canada],” Alexan said. “But let’s talk about the issues. Even if we get [elected] a referendum isn’t going to happen tomorrow.”
Alexan explained that Québec Solidaire wants to increase corporate tax, regulate private corporations, prioritize environmental protection over financial gain, and provide education and housing for all citizens.
“We believe the economy should be in the service of human beings, not vice versa,” Alexan said. “It’s one big mess in this country, with corporate greed and the collusion of our government.”
The event attracted six candidates: three Liberals, one Green, one Quebec Solidaire, and one Action Démocratique. No candidates from the Parti Québécois attended.
SSMU sent invitations to all the parties.