The boys in Forms 5, 6 and 7 made a hands-on connection with the democratic process on Monday, Nov. 19 as they cast their ballots in a mock-election.
The “vote” capped off a special assembly at the Prep on Friday, Nov. 16 where three of the candidates for Toronto—St. Paul’s took time from their incredibly busy schedules to speak about their parties’ respective platforms and field some tough and thoughtful questions from the boys about issues like the size of the deficit, balancing the budget, the universal childcare benefit, and legalizing marijuana.
Current Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, Kevin Farmer of the Green Party, and the NDP’s Noah Richler gave the students the rundown on party ideals, convictions and priorities, all with a light and personal touch. Also graciously in attendance was Christopher Cochrane, Associate Professor of Political Science at U of T, who provided a comprehensive overview and historical context for the Conservative Party.
Journalist, writer and academic John Fraser ’63 kicked things off, giving a great nuts-and-bolts summary of the parliamentary system and a salute to the candidates, acknowledging how difficult a life in politics can be. And emcees Toni Agbaje-Ojo and James Barr, both in Form 7, did an artful job guiding the proceedings.
Conservative candidate Marnie MacDougall’s absence didn’t negatively affect the voting result today. In Forms 6 and 7, the Conservatives nabbed 49 per cent of the vote (with Christopher Cochrane’s name on the ballot).
In Form 5, Conservatives and Liberals were neck-and-neck but Conservatives came out on top with 47 per cent. But the Liberals were right behind.
Middle Division Head Naheed Bardai was thrilled with how the assembly went. “It was a tremendous success,” he says, “not only because we were able to listen to various candidates speak, but more importantly because our boys were engaged. Often times, younger students can be disinterested or feel disenfranchised because they aren’t formally part of the political process. Events like these help our younger students know they have a part to play, and that they do have a say — their voices are being heard. I want to especially thank David Fraser, Prep Head of History and Geography and the brains behind the whole event.”
“The assembly was all about citizenship,” says David Fraser, “and specifically the responsibility of the citizen inside a democracy. Boys who are aware of and knowledgeable about the political process make them better citizens. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to give them experiences that help them along this path.”