BY HARNOOR GILL
Grade 11 student
Christ The King Catholic Secondary
I have learned throughout my academic and volunteering experience that communication is the key to success. I have tried my best to open up a discussion for youth in time for the upcoming municipal elections in my community. My recent letter to the editor of the Independent & Free Press in Georgetown, Ontario (http://www.theifp.ca/opinion/whats-in-store-for-youth-in-halton/) and my emails that I sent to all candidates running for municipal elections in Peel and Halton region this October in 2014 has created a lot of buzz. I sent out a basic straight forward question about what the candidates have for youth in their agenda. In this e-mail, I also asked for them to reply to me in two-three lines only so that I can put everybody’s views forward in this article. This was quite a task and I decided to challenge myself.
In order to reach out to all the candidates in the marathon, I searched up for the Peel and Halton region websites to locate the contact information of these candidates. I was mostly interested in finding e-mail addresses in particular because this was the most convenient way possible for me to contact them. A slight suggestion for those candidates that did not have their e-mail addresses listed is to do it right away. The main reason behind having an e-mail address is to compensate with the push of today’s technological advancements. Rather than calling someone or talking face to face, just send out an e-mail to them so they can respond to your concerns in a reasonable time.
Throughout this task, I started receiving replies from the candidates that I had e-mailed. I do not want to point anyone out but someone actually replied back to me saying word for word “I am not running from Georgetown” because the candidate was in fact running from the Peel region. What this candidate didn’t seem to realize and just went over their head without reading the whole e-mail was that I hadn’t inquired whether they were running for Georgetown. I had merely just asked whether or not they could provide a short excerpt for what they would do for the youth in their area. These are definitely not the type of people we need participating in a municipal election.
During the process of asking candidates, I was surprised by the response I got from many of the candidates. Some of them replied right away with no further question asked, whereas others took their time to reply after clarification about my request and a few of them didn’t even reply at all. I do not blame those who did not respond to my message because there might be a genuine reason for it. But the question still remains unanswered from those set candidates. So if they can’t communicate on time to one person then how can we as members of the community expect them to serve us properly?
Many candidates push themselves as a “change”. I believe that it is easy to blame the decisions of past candidates but as a voter we need to channel those drawbacks and understand them. We should be able to determine what the best method is to avoid unsatisfactory results in the next running. What was the ‘spark’ for the candidate we voted for in the past? Why do we want to elect a new candidate or re-elect the previous candidate in term? Does that candidate deserve another fair chance to be re-elected? Why or why not? By answering these questions yourself, you are easily able to isolate the candidate you want to vote for.
The idea of youth engagement for a community is vital in order for the services for youth to run in the community. Services such as the recreation centre, hockey arena, library, skate park, tennis court or a community swimming pool, all require the youth of the community to fund them.
We also need these candidates to consider how youth can prepare themselves once they graduate from high school and become employable. I know that I definitely haven’t received any valuable assistance for myself from guidance councillors about a career path that appeals to me. This is because the information that I receive from them not only differs from the interests that I have but it also seems to be information with endless holes. I personally have had to research endless hours of time on my own on something that appeals to me or a career that I feel I will undertake. The world needs to let youth know how they can support themselves throughout as well as after college or university. This is because at the rate we are going right now, there are a lot more jobs being lost then there are being made.
Once again, as an avid volunteer I would like to point out the rise of volunteerism that is extremely evident in today’s society. Something as good as this should not be taken advantage of by companies/corporate businesses that make use of these “volunteer employees” which most of the time happens to be youth. Laws need to be made in municipalities discussing certain businesses that take advantage of youth volunteers without paying them. It’s fine if it is done for high school hours or just temporarily to gain some community experience and fundamental leadership. But it’s just humanely wrong for companies to take advantage of international students that come into the country looking for a job but end up “volunteering” as a secretary in some office for many years. Situations like this should not be happening and need to be taken care of by the set candidates that wish to “change” their communities and hope to create an environment where both the youth and the people of the community go hand in hand.
People involved in media who are also in this marathon are shouting out that they made a difference in the community by serving the community for many years. I just wanted to point out that if they have done something above and beyond the scope of their job then that’s fine. But, if they were just doing their job serving in the media and it’s their bread and butter then nonetheless they have to do their job properly, ethically and more carefully than a layperson. They don’t need to be convincing people for office and influencing voters in that case.
Many candidates are pushing for a university campus in Brampton. As a voter, you need to look at how realistic are their intentions to fulfil this promised project. Is it merely a political promise or is it also economically/geographically feasible?
Politics should not be a game of making promises only but to accomplish them. Therefore, Election Commission should take reasonable steps to punish those politicians who make promises before they get elected but they never fulfill them after elections. So the serious and deserving candidates can come up front and serve this country.
An important question to always ask any candidate is what really makes them Canadian and how they display those inherited Canadian values.
I myself know that if I were to vote, then I would vote for someone that has a general outline planned for the youth of the city or town. When elected, they are in it for the creation of a better municipality and not in it for the pay or the entitled fame. You can look for the candidate who mandates public transportation as an issue and one of their main priorities. Living in the outskirts of a rural area, it can be hard to go from place to place and a sufficient way of solving that problem would be to create a public transportation system.
On a personal note, I have had many opportunities to interact with the Mayor of Halton Hills, Rick Bonnette, the ex-minister, Linda Jeffrey, as well as the Regional Chair of Halton Region, Gary Carr, and I salute all three of them for their amazing communication and leadership skills.
Last but not least, I would like to thank the candidates for their time and consideration for responding to my request and believing in youth like myself despite their busy schedules. I picked only a few things from each message I received and have tried my best to convey their message from a youth perspective. Here is the short list of the candidates that responded and their youth related top priorities that are summarized from their response sent to me via emails:
John Sanderson (mayor) – University campus in Brampton
Jacqueline Bell (mayor) – Proposing French education starting in Kindergarten
Muhammad Haque (mayor) – Healthy, rich environments, and immense support for youth
Donald McLeod (mayor) – establish a business incubator to assist youth in creating small business
Mandeep Jassal (regional councillor) – Create a new City of Brampton Youth Council Committee
Sushil Tailor (council) – Support youth led initiatives
Rosalind S Feldman (council) – Integration; find a way to bring all the youth together
Archie Mclachlan (council) – Establishment of a university in Brampton
Martin Medeiros (council) – Job creation, enhance employment and training for youth
Michael Freeman (council) – Reduce transit fares for full-time students
Lynda Sacco (council) – Accessible, affordable children’s services
Ojie Eghobor (council) – Addressing issues of youth empowerment
Manickam Subbiah (council) – Involve youth in community programs
Andre Levy (council) – Look at getting youth into skill trades or apprenticeship within community
John Hutton (council) – Identify and design the needs of the track and field community
Janet Atherley (trustee) – Free lunch support homework club for every child
Ravichandran Subbaian (trustee) – Organizing more interesting extracurricular activities
Hardeep Kalirah (trustee) – Increase funding for technology, extra-curricular activity
Gitu Sandhu (trustee) – Educational excellence, equality & engagement
Veenay Sehdev (council) – Civic Engagement Case Study Competition
Janet Atherley (trustee) – Stand up to a no bullying policy
Steve Mahony (mayor) – Create more apprenticeship opportunities for youth
Derek Ramkissoon (mayor) – Develop programs that will benefit the youth
Dil Muhammad (mayor) – Give gift of education to youth
Barbara Tabuno (council) – Partner with local youth organizations for involvement in city’s policy-making
Saskia Wijngaard council) – Stop violence against youth
Cecil Young (council) – Upholding equality, providing opportunity, creating prosperity
Elena Stoykovich (council) – Better health through physical fitness, and youth voice
Ghada Melek (council) – Creation of small, micro-economic projects for young entrepreneurs
Rose Streete (council) – Prepare youth-focused opportunities for youth
Elena Stoykovich (council) – Affordable sport activities and fitness
Carolyn Parrish (council) – Change the hiring practices at the City and Region
Paul Preikschas (council) – Easy access to more community centres and more programs for youth
Matt Mahoney (council) – Ensure youth have the services and programs to engage themselves.
Osmand Bangura (council) – Create employment opportunities for youths
David Li (trustee) – Education must be the top priority
Brad Hutchinson (trustee)- Safe, Healthy, Inclusive Schools
Karen Lin (trustee) – Practical solutions for youth unemployment
Bernadette Chatwin (trustee) – Support diverse students needs
Sharon Hobin (trustee) – Increase courses in the Specialist High Skills Majors Program
Robert Crocker (trustee) – Support Public education
Sophia Brown Ramsay (trustee) – Create innovative after-school programs to empower youth
Robert Crocker – (trustee) Making students’ happy and productive citizens
Josephine Bau (trustee) – Equal opportunity to learn and succeed to all youths
Allan Thompson (mayor) – Re-instate the Mayor’s Youth Council program
Nick de Boer (council) – support expanding opportunities in organized/unorganized activities for youth
Yevgenia Casale (council) Support to develop and deliver meaningful youth employment opportunities
Jennifer Innis (council) – Re-establish the Mayor’s Youth Council
Stan Cameron (trustee) – Encourage youth in our schools to stay active, to eat healthy
Michael Bugala (council) – Advocate for the understanding of the value of the youth
Ian Thompson (council) – Support activities that youth are committed to
Michael Luzar (council) – Ensure proper working amenities and youth programs available
Ryan McLaughlin (council) – Keep youth active and engaged with programs
John Pollard (council) – Proper government outreach programs
Karin Tomosky (council) – Milton youth choir would bring young people together to work as a team
Danielle Masanto (council) – More free community programs for youth
Noah Parker (trustee) – Increasing and investing in Student Voice
Nik Thakkar (trustee) – Keeping our schools safe and drug free
Kim Graves (trustee) – Encourage participation in school and board governance
Rafik Morcos (trustee) – Schools must be more welcoming to ‘each’ student
Devinder Bhatia (trustee) – Support education and youth employment
Rick Bonnette (mayor) – Support Youth Needs Study including the pilot transportation in 2015 for youth
Bryan Lewis (council) – Ensure that youth have the facilities to enjoy their athletic/cultural experiences
Dave Kentner (council) – Listen to the advice of youth when ever offered
Philip Lewin (council) – Protect our village communities and rural way of life
Jane Fogal (council) – Support transit options for youth and more bike lanes.
Bob Inglis (council) – Work with youth groups to discuss needs and wants
Ann Lawlor (council) – Support the need for a skatepark and/or bmx facility
Moya Johnson (council) – Support youth programming and opportunities for youth
Waldo Paquete (council) – establish youth centre partnerships with local business
John Mark Rowe (trustee) – Ensure that schools offer as many different ways of learning
Jeanne Gray (trustee) – Provide safe, inclusive and well equipped learning environments
Jim Curran (council) – convene a broad-based working group as well as establishing a youth council
Katherine Henshell (council) – Enhancing children’s recreational programs for sports and arts
Jason Boelhouwer (council) – work with young people to help make it easier to engage.
Leah Reynolds (trustee) – advocate for positive change for our students’
Dr Margo Shuttleworth (trustee) – Support the idea that all schools should stay within their communities
Dr Syed A Naqvi (regional chair) – Stand for people friendly government and that includes youth
Liana Palmerio-McIvor (council) – Expanding youth-focused programs
Brandon Jones (trustee) – Students should be taught personal Finance