Dear editor, 

It seems that every election, the youth of this country are fed the same tired story — you’re young, you’re lazy and you won’t make it to the polls, so we’re going to ignore you. With this constant refrain, our politicians and our media have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hard not to appear apathetic when you’re being excluded from the process. The now infamous barring of students from election rallies for supposed political connections or environmental advocacy is just one example, and not the worst of our problems.

This narrative of a disengaged generation can be found everywhere from news broadcasts to insufficient party platforms, but it’s not the whole story. Thousands of young Canadians have contributed to and signed the LeadNow Declaration for change — a campaign to restructure the tone of Canadian politics, and rightly so. Hundreds more have joined vote mobs across Canada, and this movement is gaining support and momentum everyday. In fact, anyone who has looked past the mainstream media, anyone who has even glanced at the social networks can see that Canada’s youth are paying attention, and we’re standing up for our generation.

And yet we’re still waiting for some meaningful acknowledgement. Hundreds of concerned young Canadians put their hopes into the leaders’ debates this week. Across the country, we have been calling in and emailing, letting the consortium know just how important it is that our future be on the agenda. And, briefly, it seemed that we were being heard. The Canadian Youth Climate Coalition was invited to participate in CTV’s pre- and post-debate panel, only to be bumped from the list the next day. Had we been represented in that panel, the Canadian public would have had the rare opportunity to hear about youth beyond the framework of “young offender” or the lip service paid to meager education commitments, which is all Tuesday’s debate had to offer. Despite hundreds of requests, environment was also ignored, and climate change was a mere side topic in both debates as our leaders marginalized the issues most important to young Canadians.

What we’re asking for is respect. Respect for our voices in this election and respect for our futures in this country. We’re stuck in a vicious circle, where politicians are assured by the media that they don’t need to worry about young voters and where the media couldn’t cover youth engagement if they wanted to, because our politicians are convinced that issues like gun control carry more weight in this campaign. But this is a cycle we can break, and you can help us do it.

Thank you for your time.

Visit the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition online.