Popcorn and Politics bringing candidates to students

On the day after the Oct. 7 English-language debate, federal election candidates for Calgary-Confederation gathered in the Irene Lewis Atrium to speak with students about politics and the election.

Saitsa organized the event as part of a larger initiative by the Students’ Association to get student voters at SAIT involved in politics.

Candidates from the major political parties set up booths and engaged students for three hours. Many students took time to ask candidates questions, listen to discussions other students were having, and read campaign literature.

Some students were lured in by bags of freshly popped popcorn and were encouraged to interact with candidates by Saitsa staff.

Candidates present at the event were Conservative incumbent Len Webber, Jordan Stein of the Liberal Party, Natalie Odd of the Green Party, Colin Korol of the People’s Party, and Kevan Hunter of the Marxist-Leninist Party. NDP candidate Gurcharan Sidhu was not present for that afternoon’s forum.

An Opportunity to Interact

“I just think it’s cool that actual candidates for MP are here, just to talk with freely,” said Arran Woodruff, an IT student at SAIT, who had questions for some candidates after viewing the previous night’s debate.

“It’s nice that I can see somebody who might be able to speak about some of the things I heard last night.”

Chris Haddon, another SAIT student speaking with multiple candidates, agreed.

“I can actually chat with people on a more personal level than what I see on TV or read in the news,” said Haddon.

Urvashi Sath, who is new to Canadian politics and a first-year journalism student, wanted to speak with candidates after viewing the previous night’s leader’s debate.

“Yesterday I watched the debate, and that’s what interested me,” said Sath.

“I want to know more about Canadian politics.”

“I feel this environment is really engaging,” said Natalie Odd, candidate for the green party. The event impressed her by bringing politics to students on their turf.

The Liberal’s Jordan Stein said this election was important for students, because youth can actually make a difference in the outcome.

More Millennial Voters

“Millennials make up the largest voting block this election,” said Stein, and pointed out the Calgary-Confederation riding’s importance because it has three post-secondary institutions within its boundaries.

According to Elections Canada, the 2015 federal election saw a large jump in the number of voters in the 18-35 category. Specifically, the 18-24 voting block saw an over 18 per cent increase in voter turnout.

By bringing candidates on campus, Saitsa is hoping initiatives like this may help remove barriers that students face to getting involved in electoral politics.

“After I chat with everyone, I’ll hopefully have a better understanding of the climate here in our riding,” said Haddon.

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