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Election 2015: U of T students vote

“Our future is at stake,” first-time voter says

“I was really excited that I could finally have a say in what goes on,” says Liana Ernszt with fellow first-time voters Arin Klein and Ben Levy (all photos by Johnny Guatto)

When Bushra Nassab urged students to vote in a U of T News video, it was no empty gesture. She did the deed herself with vigour and determination. 

“I voted because I truly believe that if I don't vote I absolutely have zero right to complain about policies that I don't like,” Nassab said. “Canada has, unfortunately, taken a pretty bad turn over the past few years – with respect to both its domestic and foreign policies – and it is time that we turn things around. 

“The Canada we have today is not the Canada I was raised upon, which was defined by tolerance, multiculturalism, and diversity. I want that Canada back and that is why I couldn't wait to vote.”

Nassab, 21, is in her fourth year as an undergraduate, studying political science, and peace, conflict and justice studies. She is also president of the Political Science Association on campus. 

photo of Bushra Nassab

“My feelings after voting? Honestly, it felt amazing. Never think that your vote won't count. Every single vote counts and that is the message that I am trying to spread among young voters. If you want to see a change, exercise your right and get out there and vote.”  

Nassab voted in an advance poll for Liberal candidate Omar Alghabra in her Mississauga Centre riding. But the joy she expressed in voting was echoed by students voting at Hart House Oct. 19.

Ben Levy, Liana Ernszt and Arin Klein entered the voting station at Hart House together. All are 18; all voting in their first election.

Levy, a first-year student studying life sciences at U of T’s Victoria University (pictured below), said voting is important. 

“I think a lot of people overlook the student vote mainly because students tend not to vote so there is no reason for politicians to do things for students’ benefit,” Levy said. “ If we really make a concerted effort to raise voting rates for students then they would see a dramatic effect.”  

photo of Levy with sign

Levy voted for Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland in the newly-created University-Rosedale riding that includes the downtown campus of U of T. Students who live in residence on campus can vote in the riding. 

“I am really passionate about issues in Canadian politics, and our future is at stake,” Ernszt said. “I was really excited that I could finally have a say in what goes on, or at least be a part of having a say in what goes on.” 

The first-year philosophy student had considered voting Liberal but after attending a town hall meeting liked what she heard from NDP candidate Jennifer Hollett and voted for her.

Levy and Klein watched as Ernszt drew a caricature of movie star Shia LaBeouf and a line saying “just do it” for a photo to be posted  on social media.

photo of Ernzt with shia cartonn

Klein said, “it is important for all young people to vote because it seems the Conservatives seem to win without the majority of votes, and if a bigger percentage of young people voted we would have a better say in the future.”

For eighteen-year-old Jolee Tung (pictured below) voting is an important part of being a  good citizen. 

photo of Jolee Tung

“People around the world are dying to have the privilege to vote; we are so privileged to be able to do it so easily, to have a say in our country. It would feel wrong not to vote.”

A life sciences student at U of T’s Trinity College, Tung voted for Conservative candidate Karim Jivraj .  

“I believe that Stephen Harper and his party have been doing a pretty good job in managing Canada so far. I am pleased with the direction Canada is going in and its role on the world stage.”

Jane Gimian, a third-year Law Student, said she voted Liberal. 

“Civic involvement matters, even if individual votes may or may not make a difference,” she said.

Gimian said she was impressed with Chyrstia Freeland “but also it was something of a strategic vote, to get rid of a Conservative government.”