2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

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Youngest federal election candidate talks campaigning and the youth vote

By Fabian Mayer, July 16 —

The youngest candidate running for office in Canada’s fall federal election is a 21-year- old University of Calgary student. Ala Buzreba is putting her international relations degree on hold to run as the Liberal candidate for the riding of Calgary Nosehill. We sat down with her to talk about young people in politics and her experience so far.

The Gauntlet: Why are you running and how did you come to that decision?

Ala Buzreba: I’ve always been part of the Liberal party. I’ve always been part of the UCalgary Liberals. I volunteered for the party for a very long time. I knew everything about the party and the party represented me, but there aren’t enough people that are like me in the current government. I wanted to change that.

G: What do you mean people that are like you?

AB: There’s not enough youths, there’s not enough women. [In] our current government there’s no balance in terms of men and women, in terms of the age. We keep seeing the same people.

G: Why is it important for young people to be involved in politics?

AB: How else are we going to get our voices heard? We need to be there, be at the front lines to make sure they’re responding to our issues.

G: What is it like being a candidate so far?

AB: It’s a really good experience. I actually recommend it to everybody, but they have to understand the work that comes with it. This is not a part-time job, this is a full-time job and a full-time way of life so you have to really be into it. It is challenging, it is hard and you will meet people that won’t like you based on who you are and you just have to deal with it.

G: Young people tend to have low voter turnout, what do you think can be done to change that?

AB: You have to get the youth to actually care about an issue. If you look at what the government is doing now, look at youth unemployment rates which are double the national average, you look at the social safety net — our social safety net is not the same as our parents’ social safety net. We need a government that actually cares about us. In order for us to make a difference, we have to vote. Because right now they’re seeing that the youth don’t vote.

G: What do you think are the most important youth and student issues in the federal election?

AB: Crippling student debt, youth at risk and unemployment are huge ones. The unemployment rate is huge. We’re the future generation. We need to find jobs. We need employers to have hiring incentives so that they hire us.

G: How do the Liberals plan to address those issues?

AB: The Liberals do have a hiring incentive for employers to get them to hire youth. Justin Trudeau was a youth critic so he knows a lot about youth issues. He comes to campuses, he talks to students. He wants to know what they think about and what they care about and that’s something the other candidates aren’t doing enough.

G: What is the most challenging part of being a candidate?

AB: There is a large commitment in order to do this. You have to be very serious about it. I’m putting school on hold because there’s no way I can be in school and be running a campaign. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things to do this but that’s because I really care about it. I care about the government, I care about making my voice heard. It’s a good experience but there’s a lot to give up.

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