If young people want change, they need to act, and that includes voting in elections.
That’s the message two NDP MPs brought to a room crammed with students, and others, at Memorial University in St. John’s Friday.
St. John’s East MP Jack Harris and Olivia Chow, an MP from Ontario and wife of the late federal NDP leader Jack Layton, spent about an hour taking questions on a variety of topics from foreign affairs to student debt, immigration to merging the country’s left-leaning political parties.
But the overall message was if people want change they must get involved in the process.
Whether that’s circulating petitions, marching in the streets or joining an advocacy group or political party, Chow told the students, change does not come without action.
Before the event Chow spoke to reporters.
“I will be talking to (a) wonderful group of young people ... encouraging them to participate (in the political process) because really, they have so much energ.
“I’m looking forward to listening to them.”
Chow repeated the words her husband wrote in a letter to Canadians, before he died in August, several times during the event: that hope is greater than fear, love is greater than anger and optimism is better than despair.
She said while some feel governments never listen, not voting is equivalent to not standing up for what you believe.
And voting for a party that shares your values is how to try to make your vision reality.
Chow also talked about how much Layton loved working with young people and listening to their ideas.
And she told the people in the room to dream big.
She told reporters that she hoped to encourage the MUN students to focus on making positive changes by standing up and mobilizing.
“There’s so much enthusiasm and energy and idealism, so my pitch is let’s transfer that energy into action. Let’s go out and change the world for the better,” Chow said.
While talking to reporters before the event, she also noted the death of another NDP stalwart, Nancy Riche, who passed away last weekend.
Riche was a longtime labour activist and former president of the provincial New Democrats.