Napanee Ont. high school holds election debate to encourage civic engagement

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Napanee Ont. high school holds election debate to encourage civic engagement
WATCH: Napanee District Secondary School held a provincial election debate featuring some Hastings, Lennox and Addington candidates to encourage civic engagement in young people – May 30, 2022

Students at Napanee District Secondary School (NDSS) took part in a provincial election debate on Monday, which featured Hastings, Lennox and Addington (HL&A) NDP, Liberal and New Blue Party candidates.

“I hope that the students are just so encouraged that they have candidates who are willing to come to the school, meet with them, shares their ideas,” says NDSS teacher Robert Kiley. “Most importantly, the students know that their beliefs and their views can be represented in the legislature at Queen’s Park.”

Kiley is teacher advisor for the school’s debate club and says that allowing students to run the debate is a great way to learn through real life.

“I just want everyone to educate themselves and hear what they want to hear and say what they want to say,” says debate club member and student Locksley Sinclair.

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“Everyone needs to get educated by themselves and not just listen to other people’s preemptive judgements on what people say.”

Sinclair emceed the debate alongside fellow student and debate club founder Olivia Olner.

“It’s really important because we’re the next generation, we’re deciding,” Olner says. “We need to fix a multitude of issues that have come up. And if you don’t know who’s going to do that or how they’re going to do it, you know, and you’re only voting on personality not policy, it gets really gross.”

All HL&A candidates were invited to the debate, although Kiley says the Conservative Party candidate declined, the Green Party candidate asked for a substitute and the Ontario Party candidate cancelled.

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Kiley hopes encouraging civic engagement at a young age will help to get students voting.

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“Unfortunately, voter turnout is very low. It’s only about half, maybe a bit more than half,” says Kiley. “And so, if we get people involved at a young age and get them excited about seeing themselves in the process, then hopefully that will inspire the next generation to continue in politics.”

Now that NDSS students have had the opportunity to hear from some of the HL&A candidates, they will have the chance to cast their own ballot in a mock election this Thursday on election day.

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