Bob D’Eith rhymes with orange

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A look at local candidates and what they believe is important to youth voters

By Jordan Lamothe, Contributor

The 2015 election is fast approaching, and it is the first year I am eligible to participate, but why should I, and what is it I would be voting for? Who are these people who step up in a community seeking the right to represent our voice, and what do they stand for? Do they truly want to work for the people?  Does the youth vote matter or are we an overlooked piece of the system? I decided to get the answers to these questions straight from the source. Over the next few weeks I will be seeking out my local (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) candidates to get these answers. The first candidate to share his time with me was Bob D’Eith from the New Democratic Party (NDP).

D’Eith is an entertainment lawyer, a Juno-nominated recording artist, a former member of the Canadian rock group Rymes with Orange—and now, a politician. I was able to get a quick interview with him over the phone to hear what defines him as a politician, and how he would represent the young voter.

I started by asking D’Eith “What issues are most concerning young voters today?” He told me environmental laws are being gutted: “We used to have 2.5 million lakes and rivers protected in Canada; now that number is less than 200, and that’s a major issue.”  He informed me that youth unemployment is up in double digits, and the Elections Act is also making it more difficult for young citizens to vote. He is referring to the changes made to the voter vouching laws, in which the voter information card no longer acts as proof of address. This is particularly troublesome for post-secondary students away at college or university, because their addresses tend to change very frequently, so their official identification cards (licenses, BCIDs, Care Cards etc.), which are now required to prove voter eligibility, may not have the same address as provided on the voter information card. D’Eith’s main concern is that “many young people in Canada seem to feel disconnected from the federal political process,” and that youth voter turnout was less than half the average. “I truly hope that will change during this election. This could be the most important election in a generation.”

If elected, D’Eith plans to help build an “NDP government,” meaning a government committed to openness and communication with everyday people. “The Harper government has put large corporations and the wealthy ahead of young people, working Canadians, seniors, the environment, and even our basic rights and freedoms.” He pointed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as an area where the NDP has been very committed to ensuring all Canadian are heard on equal grounds. The TRC is a part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Its purpose is to, basically, document stories from survivors of the residential schools and the schools’ attempt at cultural genocide, in order to better inform Canadians of why the settlements are necessary, as well as to help cultivate better understanding between the First Nations and other cultural groups.

D’Eith buys in 100 per cent with the NDP platform and believes in Thomas Mulcair’s leadership, “Tom Mulcair and the NDP have a plan to ensure that young Canadians have well-paying jobs when they get out of school and inherit a Canada that we can all be proud of.”

Does D’Eith’s platform resonate with you? How can we build trust between politicians and the general public? One thing is for sure, Canadian youth need to educate themselves and take an active role in our electoral process. After all, one day we will be the voting majority. So in the words of Mr. D’Eith: “Please vote!”