Napanee Ont. high school hosts election debate to encourage civic engagement – Kingston

Napanee District High School (NDSS) students participated in a provincial election debate on Monday, which featured NDP candidates from Hastings, Lennox and Addington (HL&A), the Liberals and the New Blue Party.

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“I hope the students are so encouraged that they have candidates who are willing to come to school, meet them, share their ideas,” says NDSS teacher Robert Kiley. “Most importantly, students know that their beliefs and views can be represented in the Legislative Assembly at Queen’s Park.

Kiley is an academic advisor for the school’s debate club and says allowing students to lead the debate is a great way to learn in real life.

“I just want everyone to educate themselves and hear what they want to hear and say what they want to say,” says Debate Club member and student Locksley Sinclair.

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“Everyone needs to educate themselves and not just listen to others’ preemptive judgments about what people say.”

Sinclair moderated the debate alongside fellow student and debate club founder Olivia Olner.

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“It’s really important because we’re the next generation, we decide,” says Olner. “We have to solve a multitude of problems that have arisen. And if you don’t know who’s going to do it or how they’re going to do it, you know, and you’re only voting on personality and not politics, it gets really gross.

All of the HL&A candidates were invited to the debate, though Kiley says the Conservative Party candidate declined, the Green Party candidate requested a replacement, and the Ontario Party candidate canceled.

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Kiley hopes encouraging civic engagement at a young age will help inspire students to vote.

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“Unfortunately, voter turnout is very low. It’s only about half, maybe a little more than half,” says Kiley. “And so if we get people involved at a young age and get them excited to see themselves in the process, then hopefully that will inspire the next generation to continue in politics.”

Now that NDSS students have had a chance to hear from some of the HL&A candidates, they will have the chance to vote in a mock election this Thursday on Election Day.

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