When the votes were all tallied up and the dust was settled, the NDP had won in ridings across Quebec that no one could have predicted at the beginning of the election. Across the country, even non New Democrats were ecstatic that a federalist party had reduced the separatist Bloc Quebecois to all but 4 seats. But the media being the media and always looking for something to make the front page, they started in on the new MPs who were democratically elected by the constituents in their ridings.
I understand that the NDP gaining the official opposition status in the House of Commons is big news, and on the national scene it is new territory. I understand that the NDP will be under the microscope because of its massive seat gains and that people will be curious about what the next step will be. That is fair. What isn’t fair is to single out new young MPs who were elected by the people in the ridings that elected them. It is not fair to the people of the ridings and is not fair to those who had the courage and conviction to run in the election.
We are told time and time again that young people are too apathetic to vote, that they are not engaged but here we have young Canadians who decided that they would put their money where their mouths were and put their names on the ballot.
I was elected to council when I was 24. In many ways I was unprepared for the world of civil politics but so is everyone else who runs for the first time. Maybe this is why I am so upset with the way the media has come out attacking these new young MPs. Some people in the media are trying to suggest that they are too young, too inexperienced and that we should take a more American approach to our elected officials with age limits.
This is ageism and it is wrong! If you are old enough to vote then you are old enough to stand up and run. Show me a newly elected Conservative politician who, just because he is older has more right to be in the House of Commons as someone who is younger? Just because you are older doesn’t mean that you have more experience at something that you have never done before, and to suggest such is not only insulting, it is inappropriate.
It takes a lot of courage to put your name on a ballot and run for office, something I would like to see these pundits and spin doctors try and do. In their attempt to cook up a story and attacking these new youthful MPs they are only alienating even more young people from getting involved. If people wish to judge these new MPs or any MP, do it on their record not on their lack of record. Everyone must start someplace and these new youthful MPs have done what most critics do not have the courage to do, run for office.