April 21, 2011

Join the Earth Day Parade and then get your vote on

Friday, April 22nd isn’t just Good Friday. It’s also Earth Day, and in celebration, Vancouver’s youth have organized a parade and festival! I’ll be there with my bicycle and as many dorky treehugging pins as I can dig up. (Find me if you’d like a Vote Environment button with Suzuki’s retro face on it!)

Earth Day Parade posterCoincidentally, this is the 41st Earth Day and, on May 2nd, Canada has its 41st federal election. Before you head to the polls as early as this weekend — because you ARE voting (or if you’re a minor, telling your parents to vote), right? — think about how important it is to you to have clean air, clean water and healthy food to eat. Think about what kind of world today’s youth will be facing in the future if climate change isn’t mitigated today, if oil spills continue, and if our precious salmon fail to thrive. If you’re a youth yourself, what do you want the world to look like? We can take many actions ourselves, but Canadians understand the government wields the biggest power to make sweeping changes in the areas where consumers have little influence. And the Canadian government needs to know that we care about our environment.

My colleague Ryan Kadowaki, Program Coordinator, Climate Change at the David Suzuki Foundation, writes: “During the 2008 federal election, young adults had the lowest voter turnout of any age group: 18 to 24 year-olds only cast 7% of the total votes. When you see that stat, it’s no wonder politicians don’t bother talking about issues young people care about. The message they’re getting is that young people don’t have an opinion about their future.” That’s incredibly depressing. In that election, I was in that age group. I voted. My candidate lost in the end, but that’s not the point. I exercised my right to vote, and I’m going to do it again, and again. You can’t win if you don’t try.

If you care about the environment, arts, an open Internet, health, democracy and transparent government, vote on or before May 2nd. Let’s see some real change, Canada. I know you can do it!

If you’re not of voting age, ask your family and older friends to speak for you. Write to your candidates on key issues. This is your time to have your say. You count, and together we can change a nation.