While there was shock for many on election day, as the Liberals bucked the trend of polls when they delivered a majority government, it was no surprise to Valley students.
Students at DVSS and at St. Anthony’s School participated in Student Vote, an initiative where a parallel vote is held for students during federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections. This year 850,000 students from 6,000 schools participated. The results nationally were reflective of the election result.
“My students - Social 30-1 and 30-2 - participated in Student Vote, and the results were quite interesting,” said Social Studies teacher at DVSS Peter Bjel. “Their national predictions proved to be accurate, in that both of my classes predicted a Liberal win across the country. They were less accurate on the local results, but in both cases there was a strong Conservative showing. 30-2 students put them in second-place, right behind the Liberals.”
Students at St. Anthony’s who participated and results showed locally Kevin Sorenson winning with 39 per cent of the vote, Andy Kowalski of the Liberals and Katherine Swampy of the NDP each with 20 per cent of the vote, and the Green Party’s Gary Kelly with 13 percent.
Of all students participating in the Battle River-Crowfoot Constituency, the Conservatives garnered 65 per cent of the vote, followed by the Liberal Party with 16-per cent and the NDP and Green Party with 9 per cent each.
Bjel said his classes discussed the federal elections, and broke down the ideologies of each party as well as policies. He also asked students to go on www.votercompass.com and assess where they fell on the political spectrum.
“The students were quite engaged, at least judging by their reactions, on learning that they swayed in a particular political direction. A number of students were under the impression they were Conservative, for example, but then learned they were more Liberal, or even swayed in the Green Party’s zone,” he said.
Issues that mattered to students he found were the environment and climate change as well as foreign policy, and how it would appear with different parties at the helm.
“Others were intrigued by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s promises to tweak our electoral system, or his promises about legalizing cannabis,” he said. “A few also inquired about what the future of Alberta’s oil industry would be like under a different governing party.”
The international program at DVSS also added another dimension to the discussion. He felt overall the election was a good learning opportunity.
“I think they also felt connected to the political process, and this ties in to what Alberta’s Social Studies curriculum aims to impart about the opportunities and challenges confronting Canada’s political system in 2015. They were quite amazed when they learned that the class predictions about a Liberal win came true!”