Hosted by the Trent University Politics Society, students and members of the Trent community gathered in the Lady Eaton College Pit for a conversation with Canadian politician and member of Parliament Mr. Justin Trudeau on Thursday, October 13, 2011.
Most famous for being the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal Party critic for youth, post-secondary education, and amateur sport visited the Trent campus to share his own passion for politics, to say that he himself has something to bring to it, and to encourage youth to do the same.
“Student and youth engagement in politics is one of the key issues at Trent,” said Mr. Fernando Melo of the Society, who welcomed Mr. Trudeau into the Pit. “We, as Justin pointed out, have a lot to say, but rarely get engaged with formal politics because we feel left out, and this needs to change.”
Students challenged Mr. Trudeau with questions about voter apathy, electoral reform and keeping the faith.
Mr. Trudeau addressed the frustration of youth being reputed as not caring. “18 to 25 year-olds vote at about 30 per cent,” said Mr. Trudeau, “way below where we need to be, but this is not a reflection on young people. Apathy is not from not caring, but from frustration that we care so much, but we don’t get to have an impact.”
In response to the question of electoral reform and the process of voting, Mr. Trudeau discussed ideas of lowering the voting age, mandatory voting and proportionate representation as only addressing symptoms of voter participation. He mentioned that a single transferrable ballot may be a “begrudging” step in the right direction, but the main theme of the day was a shift in thinking.
“Rethinking what the world is going to look like in 30 years: for that we need you,” said Mr. Trudeau to the students. “Change is the only constant you know, and you’re ready to engage in some of the challenges we face. Your capacity to be agents of power in your own communities right now is up to you. What do you care about? How do you engage with the world around you? Focus on your passion and inevitably that will lead you to politics, by engaging in the issues that matter to you.”
“I have a deep and abiding faith in humanity’s capacity to get it right,” said Mr. Trudeau in response to the question of what keeps him going. Describing conflict around being separated from his family and whether or not his work was “worth it,” he asserted that his focus would remain on the service of creating a better world and not on the games played.
“I draw sustenance from knowing I have an impact,” he said. “For example, today I had a great conversation with a group of students and helped them think differently about how they approach the world.”
Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011.