Voicing your opinion is a right
You just have to know where to go to be heard!
Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference. Civic engagement has the potential to empower youth as a whole and provide you with the skills and self-confidence you need to become a leader.
Civic engagement is broader than political engagement in that it can include service to the community through involvement in health, in education and in charitable organizations. Political engagement is a more targeted aspect of civic engagement and can be expressed through voting, participating in political demonstrations, and signing petitions for issues you care about. And don’t forget that school can also be a place for you to get involved in your community and learn about the electoral process and how to vote. See below for more details on the voting process.
What are some ways I can get involved and become engaged?
The Ontario Partnership for Active and Engaged Youth developed the Play Works Partnership which are a bunch of different organizations that are concerned about the future of youth. In addition to providing resources on civic engagement, they also offer resources on sports and recreation, arts and culture. Play Works is dedicated to putting 13-19 year olds “in the know” on local and provincial political agendas, to help youth develop a sense of social responsibility.
Katimavik is one of Canada’s premier youth volunteer service organization, that puts young volunteers to work in their respective communities across a variety of programs, including civic engagement. Through their organization, youth can choose from a variety of projects in the areas of social services, environmental issues, poverty reduction, the arts and more.
ArtReach Toronto is a youth arts funding program that, in addition to offering funding for projects for young artists, also seeks to engage youth in their communities in a variety of ways—primarily by offering free monthly youth workshops. Examples of workshops offered in the past include Fundraising 101, Models of Youth Work and much more.
Why should I vote?
Voting is your ticket to empowerment and an act of choosing a political candidate to represent you in government. By marking your ballot and placing it in a ballot box you say “yes” to a democratic society and to your right to participate in the law.
When are elections and who do we elect?
Every four years, Canadian citizens who are at least 18-years-old go to polls to elect new Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs). MPPs represent people from their area/neighbourhood, which are known as electoral districts, ridings or constituencies. MPPs are community representatives who can bring the concerns of the people in their communities to the legislature.
Most MPPs belong to a political party. The party with the largest number of MPPs elected forms the government and their leader becomes the Premier. The most popular political parties in Canada are the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, and the New Democratic Party.
Justice services in Ontario are administered through 3 courts: the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice, and the Court of Appeal for Ontario (who hears appeals from the Superior Court of Justice).
For a more detailed explanation about voting, check out Elections Ontario's presentation here.
Can I vote if I am not 18?
You have to wait until you are legally 18-years-old to vote. Until then, however, you can participate in an election simulation program through Elections Ontario, which works with a list of registered schools. You can also register your own school, and there is no cost to participate. The program is intended to inform youth about government and the electoral process, and help you gain a sense of civic duty. The “voting day” is identical to the official election process, where students are given the opportunity to vote on the local candidates in their electoral district. To find out more, visit www.studentvote.ca.
How do I vote?
If you have reached 18 years of age, you can vote in federal and provincial elections! You can vote:
- On election day
- At your advance poll on the 10th, 9th, 8th, and 7th days before election day
- At any Elections Canada Office for most of the election period
- By mail after an election is called
To learn more about voting—why it is important, how it works, how you can vote, and where to find information about elections and candidates—visit www.elections.ca.