Jack Layton and a call for greater civic engagement among young Canadians

I hope that Jack Layton’s much too early passing is a call to action for the next generation of engaged citizens. Jack gave a strong, educated, passionate and positive voice to Canadian politics. We need more of that.

From Jack:

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

While young people get turned off by petty partisan politics and disengage except for the simplest act of voting (and often not even that), partisan politics is the system we’ve currently got. There are many ways to impact this system (examples from the outside are those like Leadnow, Apathy is Boring, and Canadian Women Voters Congress).

Today, I challenge you to make change from the inside. This may seem daunting — getting involved with a political party.

But the very first step is easy. Sign up on a party’s website to volunteer (your postal code will likely get your email directed to your local riding), and see where it goes. No commitment necessary. You don’t need to be a member. You can change your mind later.  Heck, sign up for more than one and see what the people are like. Shop around.

Federal Parties

BC Parties

Vancouver Parties

I made this step earlier this year. Sent my contact information on a Saturday. Was contacted Monday morning. Met the candidate’s office manager on Wednesday. Met the candidate and a host of other volunteers shortly after. I’m still not a member. Still unsure how far I’ll go with this. But I’m better educated for it, and I’m adding to a slowly building critical mass of strong, educated, passionate and positive voice in Canadian politics. Like Jack did.

Please do it. You may surprise yourself.

(cross posted at www.27shift.com)