Editor's note: Eli Cornell is a Quest University student interning at The Chief.
“Vote Green! It’s a clean machine!”
I instinctively ducked away from the elderly supporter. Her strident chants for civic participation were beginning to impede my ability to cut through the mental fog of the morning with my first cup of coffee.
It was a rainy Saturday and I was standing inches away from Green Party leader Elizabeth May and Sea to Sky Green candidate Dana Taylor waving at passing drivers on the corner of Marine and 14th Street in West Vancouver.
In a black jacket, I stand out amidst the small sea of green signs, green umbrellas, green rain jackets, and a lot of retirees. Somewhere, between the chanting voices of volunteers and the chorus of car horns sounding their support, I could feel the pull of a current.
Though the wave of Green support in western Canada is far from nearing its crest, on that corner I could feel its swells.
In the month-long lead up to the federal election, I volunteered for the local Green Campaign, doing everything from canvasing neighborhoods and entering voter data to scrutinizing election day polling practices. And while I enjoyed the majority of my interactions with both the campaign and the constituency, the seemingly high level of political and environmental apathy in the community took me aback.
On numerous doorsteps around Squamish, I met potential voters who expressed their disinterest in the electoral system. Others were sympathetic to the cause, but felt that a vote for the Greens or NDP was a wasted ballot.
I found citizens who agreed that the Canadian government needed to do a better job of addressing the climate crisis but many more who expressed the importance of economic prosperity, jobs, and the ever-ambiguous topic of “affordability.”
I understand that not everyone is into politics, and so too that the immediacy of the climate crisis can be overshadowed by more tangible obstacles, but in the Sea to Sky?
I was surprised and if I admit, slightly disheartened.
Following his characteristically lengthy concession speech, I thanked Dana for the opportunity and shook his hand for the last time.
“You are on the right side of history,” I told him. “You have the youth vote.”
It wasn’t until the next day when I came across the results of the Sea to Sky student poll that I realized my words had carried more truth than I had originally intended. The results of the student vote showed Dana capturing 2,800 votes (34.84 per cent), and the NDP coming in second with 1,561 (19.43 per cent).
There is a whole new generation of voters fast approaching and they too are feeling the pull of the current.