Virtual campaigns aim to correct voter apathy among Vancouverites

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In the final countdown to Canada’s 44th election, a candidate from Vancouver turned to a successful wonder, Lou Bega, for his support.

Vancouver Center NDP candidate Breen Ouellette posted a political version of “Mambo # 5” (accompanied by local duo Socialist Horns) on Facebook and Twitter of his campaign to lighten the political mood.

“Elections can be so heavy. It’s easy to watch all this stuff and have a heavy heart, ”says Ouellette, a 44-year-old Métis lawyer, who is running for the second time against outgoing eight-term Liberal holder Hedy Fry. It refers to the vitriol sparked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call for an early election, during the fourth pandemic wave in Canada.

“I try to remind people that working on our policy and trying to have a more inclusive, safer and healthier country is something we should celebrate.”

Given the ongoing pandemic, the creative uses of social media can do a lot to stand out as users scroll endlessly through content. Local comedian Charlie Demers is not vying for a seat in the House of Commons, but his use of social media approving a candidate demonstrates a desire to have fun democratically.

“Online communication tools are definitely amplified right now, not only in terms of different parties trying to get their point across, but also the other way around,” says Terry Wilkings, who works with Apathy is boring, a non-profit organization dedicated to involving young people in Canadian politics. “It’s how the public tries to articulate what’s important to them and their decision on who to vote. Young people, in particular, are leading the conversation through social media. “

Youth engagement in Canadian politics has increased 10% since 2019 federal election, study finds led by Apathy is Boring and Abacus Data.

To explain this increase, researchers point to several factors that have affected young people over the past two years: pandemic unemployment, CERB payments, Black Lives Matter movements, anti-Asian racism, and the discovery of anonymous graves in the cities. former residential schools in Canada.

“Many of the issues that concern young people in Vancouver and across the country will be affected in one way or another by the outcome of the election,” said Wilkings.

“So it’s really about strengthening that bond, so that it makes sense of the goal of going to the polls. “

Only 50 percent of young people polled said they had voted in the last election. When asked why, the main reason was a lack of motivation.

Apathy is Boring has its work cut out for it in a “city without pleasure”, where the turnout was only 61.8% in 2019. The turnout in the 2020 election in British Columbia was even lower, at just 54.5%.

The group uses social media as a form of peer engagement, where young people encourage each other to vote by learning the democratic process together and developing a “game day” plan. With in-person learning resuming and returning to work, busy schedules and COVID-19 fears threaten to reduce voter turnout.

In some neighborhoods, another digital tool that flourished during the pandemic, QR codes, are making federal election resources more accessible.

Gordon Neighborhood House

Gordon Neighborhood House in the West End has posted signs throughout the neighborhood that carry QR codes and #WestEndVotes. By scanning it, people are taken to a page with resources on voting eligibility, logistics and methods, as well as a breakdown of candidates in Vancouver’s six ridings.

The use of social media by politicians and the general public may not be unique to Vancouver. But the city is expected to be fairly prepared for the election after having already voted in a pandemic, thanks to the 2020 provincial contest.

“There is a higher sense of understanding in terms of the voting mechanism in a pandemic situation than elsewhere,” explains Wilkings.

So far, this familiarity has manifested itself modestly at advance polls. Elections Canada estimates that 96,758 people in Vancouver’s six ridings have already voted, up 4% from 2019.


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