Last Monday, Canada’s longest election since the 1800s finally came to a close with Canadians voting in a new Prime Minister: Justin Trudeau.
The election was historic not only due to its length and the change in government, but also considering how the results came to be. This election saw a significant leap in voter turnout — 3.6 million Canadians showed up during advanced polls alone and rough numbers estimate that on election day 17 million Canadians voted.
There also appeared to be more engagement with the student and youth demographic — a group that, in the last election, had a voter turnout that was half the national average.
"This [was] a very different election in relation to young voters than practically any we've seen before — certainly than any we've seen in 30 years,” said Richard Johnston, UBC political science professor. "The effort and the energy expended by young voters this time in contrast to previous years was not wasted. This was a big win for young voters and I think that bodes well for the future."
Students themselves also seemed to be very enthusiastic about voting. When asked why he chose to vote in the election, Ophir Pick, a fourth-year integrated science student said, "Why not? I had the opportunity to ... so it was a kind of automatic thing to do."
Other students, while having voted, remarked that there were limited options in who to vote for — possibly explaining the past hesitancy to vote.
“[I voted] strategically, mainly. It's not really like you have much of an option," explained Jordan Clarke, a first-year computer science student.
"The election itself seemed to be a referendum on the Harper government and on Harper in particular.... You saw over the course of months Canadians trying to figure out who it was that they wanted to replace [Harper],” said David Moscrop, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of political science.
After 10 years under the leadership of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, Canada has made the shift to a Liberal government with a strong majority. While some students remained hesitant about the new leadership, across campus it seemed to be a welcome change.
“I’m nervous to see what the future will hold," said Adi Pick, a second-year arts student. "[Trudeau's] pulling out of the coalition, he's raising my taxes [but] he's not Harper."