By Mike Foster
On April 19, uOttawa students enjoyed the unique privilege of sharing their thoughts with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau.
The Prime Minister addressed hundreds of students attending the iVote-jeVote Youth Forum at the University of Ottawa before answering questions from the audience. The participants included Peter Schiefke, who is a federal MP and Parliamentary Secretary (Youth) to the Prime Minister, along with uOttawa President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Rock, and Jean Luc Pepin Research Chair holder Kevin Page.
Justin Trudeau said he wanted to speak to students, not as Prime Minister, but as Minister for Youth. He described the Government’s plans to set up an expert panel on youth employment, as well as a youth advisory council of people aged 16–to-24.
He said that voter turnout among youth aged 18-to-24 was up by 12% compared to the previous election and that there would be 1.5 million new young people eligible to vote in the next election in 2019.
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are the leaders of tomorrow: you are leaders today,” said Justin Trudeau.
Students asked questions about Indigenous issues, access to justice and legal support, the Cabinet appointments for women, opportunities for Canadian youth, electoral reform and legislation on assisted-dying.
The student-run iVote-jeVote series brings together students, politicians and academics to discuss important topics in Canadian policy. The series is sponsored by the Jean-Luc Pepin Research Chair at uOttawa’s Faculty of Social Sciences and aims to inspire the next generation of Canadian leaders by hosting discussions on issues such as electoral reform in Canada, the politics of the environment, and women in politics.
This was Justin Trudeau’s second appearance at an iVote-jeVote youth forum. In March 2014, as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, he took part in the inaugural iVote-jeVote event on youth engagement in politics, which addressed the drop in voter turnout among those under 25.
Watch Justin Trudeau on uOttawa’s Facebook page