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Aiden Muscovitch: If it were up to Ontario students, Andrea Horwath would be premier right now

Commentary

There’s been a lot of focus in recent years on boosting the political participation of younger Canadians who tend to vote far less than older cohorts. One group that’s been involved in trying to engage these younger voters is CIVIX,“Since 2003, CIVIX has provided authentic learning opportunities to help millions of school-aged youth develop the habits of active and informed citizenship.” https://civix.ca/home/ a civic education non-profit organization, which, among other things, has since 2003 held parallel student votes during federal and provincial elections for high school, middle school, and elementary school students.

These educational programs give students an opportunity to learn more about Canadian policy and politics and ultimately cast a ballot in their respective ridings. CIVIX then releases the outcomes of their Student Vote initiatives in advance of the actual election.

In the context of last week’s Ontario provincial election, CIVIX held its own Student Vote Ontario with students voting in all of Ontario’s 124 electoral districts. More than 250,000 students from more than 1,600 schools ultimately participated.Ontario students elect NDP majority government in province-wide vote https://civix.ca/ontario-students-elect-ndp-majority-government-in-province-wide-vote/ The results are interesting.

To put them in context, it’s worth starting with the last provincial election in 2018. At that time, the New Democratic Party, led by Andrea Horwath, won the Student Vote election even though it finished second in the actual election outcome. The Progressive Conservative Party, led by Doug Ford, finished second among the students. The Liberal Party and the Green Party finished third and fourth respectively. In other words, Ontario students felt there was a need for change but disagreed with the broader voting public on which party ought to lead such a political change.

This year, Ontario students again diverged from voting Ontarians. The NDP once again won the Student Vote, earning 29 percent of the popular vote and winning 75 ridings to form a majority government. The Liberal Party, led by Steven Del Duca, won 22 percent of the popular vote and 28 seats. The Progressive Conservatives, once again led by Premier Doug Ford, only won 18 percent of the popular vote and 17 seats. The Green Party, led by Mike Schreiner, won 16 percent of the popular vote and four seats.

These student results obviously diverge from the actual election outcomes. Readers will know that the Progressive Conservatives were re-elected with 40.8 percent of the popular vote and 83 seats.‘A mandate for what?’: The Hub Roundtable breaks down Doug Ford’s big victory, as well as our increasing economic woes https://thehub.ca/2022-06-03/a-mandate-for-what-the-hub-roundtable-breaks-down-doug-fords-big-victory-as-well-as-our-increasing-economic-woes/ The NDP was returned as the Official Opposition, obtaining 23.7 percent and winning ​​31 seats. The Liberals, who won 23.8 percent of the popular vote and eight seats, as well as the Greens, who won 6 percent of the popular vote and one seat, followed from a distance.

What does this gap between the student results and the actual outcomes tell us? Younger Ontarians like the NDP. The party has consistently done exceptionally well in CIVIX’s Student Vote Ontario, dating back to the early 2010s. The NDP came in a close second behind the Liberals in 2014 and won in 2011, occupying the same 26 percent popular vote share each year. 

Conservative ideas are seemingly not as popular among students as with adults of voting age. The Progressive Conservative Party was less attractive to young people in the recent election as it was down 8 percentage points on the popular vote between the 2018 and 2022 Student Vote Ontario. 

It’s difficult to know the long-run implications of the results. Of course, as our students age and face a wider variety of politically charged issues, minds and voting patterns are subject to change. But it’s a good thing that CIVIX’s program is engaging young Canadians in the political process. The most important long-run outcome isn’t about partisanship but rather that students become active and engaged citizensLast week’s Ontario election featured the province’s lowest-ever voter turnout. Results from Elections Ontario show that only about 43 percent of Ontarians 18 years and older voted. This is down from 57 percent four years ago.—including participating in future elections.

Stephen Nagy: Canada’s Indo-Pacific absence leaves us on the outside looking in

Commentary

When U.S. President Joe Biden announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) during his recent visit to Tokyo,Biden rolls out alternative to traditional trade pact in Indo-Pacific, aim is countering China https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2022/05/23/biden-japan-president-roll-out-alternative-trade-pact-indo-pacific/9830955002/ conspicuously missing from the participants was Canada. 

The absence is not an exception, but a pattern. Canada is also not part of the Quad,Checking China: What is the Quad alliance?
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/checking-china-what-is-the-quad-alliance/articleshow/91757226.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
the AUKUS agreement,Aukus: What is the new defence pact between Australia, Britain and the US? https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/aukus-pact-australia-britain-us-b1921897.html nor does it have a free trade agreement with ASEAN.Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/international_relations-relations_internationales/asean/index.aspx?lang=eng Strikingly, unlike Denmark, Germany, the EU, Japan, ASEAN, Australia, India, and the U.S., Canada does not have an Indo-Pacific strategy. 

Many in the international community (and at home) are asking: Where is Canada? Why the absence?   

The immediate explanation on the political side will be that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has monopolized the Trudeau government’s diplomatic bandwidth. In reality, however, Canada has not been forward-leaning when it comes to an Indo-Pacific strategy. Close partners see the current government as unfocused on the Indo-Pacific, fixated on progressive policies at home and abroad, and sometimes simply unreliable.  

Trudeau’s last-minute no-show at the Trans-Pacific Partnership signing in Vietnam in 2017, his poor choices when visiting India, and his advocacy of progressive trade policy with China can be seen as examples of a leader with poor judgment on issues that matter to the Indo-Pacific. This has damaged Canadian credibility abroad, resulting in Canada not being the second or even third choice for new mini-lateral relationships like the Quad, AUKUS, or IPEF. 

Canadians should be concerned about our absence from partnerships like IPEF, a standard-setting economic framework meant to shape trade rules in the region. Despite the great work of our diplomats, Ottawa has not shown a “first mover” position like others in IPEF. Being excluded means Canada has no voice in setting the agenda for the framework, and that we ultimately come to the table with someone else’s rules already in place. 

Trudeau is correct to say that IPEF is a compromise framework by the Biden administration for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) https://www.international.gc.ca/trade-commerce/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/cptpp-ptpgp/index.aspx?lang=eng Yet they are not the same. IPEF is not a trade agreement but rather a standard-setting framework, intended to shape the evolution of trade rules rather than open market access.  

The U.S. understands that those who shape the rules will be able to protect their economic interests, establishing standards of governance for trade and the limits of the role of government in economies. Given Canada’s absence, Canadian businesses will likely have to play by rules the current IPEF members agree on. 

Canada’s IPEF absence may be related to Ottawa’s soon-to-be-released Indo-Pacific strategy, but that simply begs the question of why have we lacked such a strategy for the past five years? Many countries that don’t even border the region have official Indo-Pacific documents or are crafting their own Indo-Pacific strategy. 

Canadian diplomats in the region, defence officials, and members of the Privy Council understand the need for such a strategy. However, at the political level, the leadership and prioritization have not been there. 

In an era when trade and security are inseparable, the urgency of an Indo-Pacific strategy becomes more salient. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how non-traditional security issues like a transnational disease can destabilize economies and societies. We have also seen economic coercion and the weaponization of commerce against Canada and its allies as examples of how trade can affect a country’s economic security. 

Canada’s geographic distance from China has not saved us from learning these lessons, but we have yet to craft policies to adapt to this new reality. The country needs to balance between an expanding footprint in Indo-Pacific and relations with China. This should be based on a clear understanding that China is part of the Indo-Pacific but is not the Indo-Pacific.  

Canada needs to be inclusive in its Indo-Pacific approach, working with like-minded allies and partners such as the U.S., Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, Singapore, and Taiwan. This should include standard-setting through the IPEF. 

Having a free trade agreement with ASEAN would also further embed Canada into the region, as would a pragmatic ambition in Canada’s approach to India.  

However, China must be on the table not just in terms of trade, but also in working with partners through multilateral agreements like the CPTPP to try to shape China’s long-term behaviour. Canada cannot do this alone, which is why a focused, multilateral and forward-leaning approach to the Indo-Pacific—through such groupings as IPEF and the Quad—is sorely needed.