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The federal election will take place on Oct. 21. Photo: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum

Students prioritizing parties’ plans to tackle climate change, make education more affordable

As the federal vote on Oct. 21 quickly approaches, students at the University of Ottawa say issues such as the climate crisis and affordable education will have the biggest influence on how they cast their ballot.

We hit the streets of the U of O campus to hear directly from students on whether they’d be voting and what kind of action they’re looking for from Canada’s political parties. For the first time, millennials will make up the largest chunk of voters in the election, according to Abacus Data.

The climate crisis was overwhelmingly on the minds of prospective voters we spoke to, with many students expressing concern for their futures and saying they will vote for a candidate who feels the same way.

“If we don’t act now, we will lose our only home,” said 23-year-old U of O student Ryan Cobb.

Some responses were even more prosaic and to the point. Riley Ritchie, 19, said that if the climate crisis is not tackled immediately, “we are all going to die.”

Aliya Henderson said she is also prioritizing action on the climate crisis when she heads to the polls.

“Every freaking vote counts and I’m going to exercise my right to do so,” the 19-year-old U of O student said.

Other students said political leaders should be focusing on how to best support young people.

Eighteen-year-old Ian Visser, a political science student at the U of O, said sustainable future, jobs and economic development should be the focus of any government.

Some students felt strongly about issues of financial security, student debt, the cost of education, and funding for schools and the arts in particular, such as 22-year-old nursing student Courtney Mol.

For 20-year-old U of O student Jiong Li, the biggest issue ahead of the federal vote is pushing for more transparency from elected leaders. Li said clear communication from the government is his top priority.

Nathan Bregman, an 18-year-old Telfer School of Management student, said he would be voting based on what each candidate was doing for the betterment of the economy and the building of a strong future.

Interviews for this story were conducted by students in the U of O digital journalism program.