The Grades 4-8 students at Huron Heights Public School in Kincardine, got a taste of federal politics and the Oct. 19 election, during an all-candidates meeting held Wednesday afternoon at the school.
Grades 7-8 students played the roles of the four party leaders and their Huron-Bruce candidates: prime minister Stephen Harper and Ben Lobb of the Progressive Conservatives (PCs), Justin Trudeau and Allan Thompson of the Liberals, Thomas Mulcair and Gerard Creces of the New Democratic Party and Elizabeth May and Jutta Splettstoesser of the Green Party. The Bloc Quebecois leader, Gilles Duceppe, was also included even though the party has no standing outside Quebec.
The meeting is in anticipation of the federal election student vote slated for Thursday, Oct. 15, says teacher Sylvia Leigh who organized the event. The actual election will be held Oct. 19.
"The senior students have worked really hard on this project," said Leigh. "It was very challenging, gathering information to make their presentations and answer questions today."
In order for all the students to understand the voting process, Leigh showed them a ballot and how to mark it properly.
"It's important that you know what to do when you go to vote," she said. "However, today's event is about listening and thinking, and asking questions. If we have time, we will take questions from the floor; otherwise, you can ask the parties later or ask your teachers and your parents."
Leigh said the student vote is a great way to involve students at this age, so that when they are 18 years old, they will go out and vote.
She explained there are five federal parties: the PCs currently have a majority government, the NDP is the official opposition, the Liberals are in third place, and the Green Party has one seat held by its leader. The Bloc serves only Quebec.
Each party made its opening remarks, with the Bloc stating it exists for the protection of Quebec's interests, and supports Quebec's secession from Canada.
The Green Party is all about safe energy sources, expanding health care services and lowering taxes for families.
The PCs would lower taxes, provide assistance for seniors, and protect jobs and the environment. They stress that Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau is just not ready to be prime minister.
The Liberals would invest in Canada, providing fairness for all.
The NDP has the experience to improve things for Canadians, with emphasis on strengthening the middle class, and helping families.
Among the questions asked by the MCs, were: what are the parties' important Canadian values; would they increase or decrease taxes; do they support nuclear power; and would they legalize marijuana?
The responses were wide-ranging, with the Green Party against nuclear power because of the concerns over waste management, the Liberals supporting the legalization of marijuana while the PCs said no, everyone supporting jobs and a strong economy, and all parties planning to lower taxes.
There were also questions from the floor. One asked how the party would help war veterans?
The NDP said that veterans should not have to fight their own government for benefits and services after serving their country. "We would definitely increase the benefits for veterans."