Why just vote when you can run too?


Surely we all remember Deez Nuts, or Brady C. Olson, the internet’s favorite meme-worthy protest candidate who gained notoriety after receiving almost 10% in pre-election polls. Besides providing a hilariously bizarre distraction from the 2016 presidential primaries, Olson was not without a purpose: to express frustration towards the US’s two-party system and the legitimacy and survivability of third party platforms. Olson was revealed to be ineligible for the position at the time, missing the age restriction by a mere 19 years. But this 15 year-old caused us to re-evaluate the independent party system, with the Federal Election Commission even promising to punish joke candidates after 2016. While the presidential election should be viewed with nothing but seriousness, Olson’s impact should not be overlooked. And for any politically-minded student, the best takeaway from his candidacy might be that a 15 year old was able to make a splash in national politics, even if it did rely on some silliness.

In St. Catherines, Sam Oosterhoff is making similar big splashes within the Progressive-Conservative party, albeit in a different way. The first-year political science student won his party’s nomination, becoming the Progressive-Conservative candidate for the Niagara West-Glanbrook riding. His victory is due, in part, to major ideological splits within the party, but what remains important is the fact that he did run, and he won. Oosterhoff is poised to become the youngest MP in Ontario’s history in a riding long held by the Progressive-Conservative party. A social conservative, Oosterhoff has many differences with the party’s official platform, and there is a fear that he may undermine his own party if elected. Oosterhoff would be balancing a November 17 by election-win with his studies at Brock University.

According to his official campaign video, Oosterhoff has experience working as a legislative assistant and policy analyst on Parliament Hill. In an interview with The National Post, Grimsby regional councillor and PC opponent Tony Quirk stated his belief that Oosterhoff’s familial ties in the region absolutely contributed to his victory. Indeed, much of Oosterhoff’s campaign focused on his commitments not only to the province, but to the Niagara region, with an emphasis on families. He spent his youth on his family’s farm in Camden, a small town in the Niagara region, where he was home-schooled and developed a love for the area with his impassioned community involvement. At a mere 19 years of age, winning this riding would make Oosterhoff the youngest MP in provincial history and the freshest face on Canada’s political scene.

Youth involvement in politics is generally associated with the far left. At 19 years of age, Pierre-Luc Dusseault was elected to Canada’s federal parliament in 2011, becoming the youngest elected federal MP in Canadian history.  A longtime supporter of the NDP and a co-founder of the NDP group at the Universite de Sherbrooke, Dusseault is serving his second term in office for the Sherbrooke riding in Quebec. Upon his election, Dusseault dropped out of University and took on the full-time job, with plans to finish his degree after his political career.

58.3% of eligible young voters took to the polls during the 2015 federal elections, 17.1% more than in the 2011 elections. Political engagement in youth is at an all-time high with interested citizens voting for and representing both ends of the political spectrum. Oosterhoff is just the most recent example of this. With an active political student body, U of T seems like the perfect breeding ground for young MPs. Perhaps it is our uncompromising dedication to education that prevents us from snagging those “youngest ________ in history” spots, but to be sure, let’s just clarify some rules and processes that the average university student might not know about.

To Run For Office:

  1. You must be 18.

  2. You must live in your riding.

  3. You must be a Canadian citizen.

Other things that are suggested, but not always necessary include: a political party, a platform, passion for politics, concern for the Canadian people, some experience in parliament or governance, and the sweetest of ties.

Will you be the youngest elected official in Canada ever?

You'll have to beat out quite a few young politicians, but with the right hair, maybe.



Photo from: http://www.lop.parl.gc.ca/Visitors/index-e.html