First Vote readies teens for their first trip to the ballot box

Canadian youth don’t vote in sufficient numbers to make their voices heard. But third-year Political Science student Hope Tuff-Berg is determined to see that change.Tuff-Berg is the CEO of First Vote, a one-day educational conference that aims to prepare senior high school students for their first trip to the ballot box.On Wednesday, May 8, more than 100 local teens gathered at Brock’s Pond Inlet for the second annual event, which is intended to improve awareness, knowledge and understanding of politics.Hope Tuff-Berg, Brock Political Science student and CEO of First Vote, thanks Regional Councilor Diana Huson for sharing her story of political involvement.The young learners participated in a mock election, listened to a variety of speakers and engaged in a networking session with local politicians and civil society organizations.“We hope it helped high school students get a taste for politics, while also seeing some of the opportunities available to them at Brock,” Tuff-Berg said.First Vote began at the University two years ago when a group of Political Science students “realized there was a gap in our voting system and politics — youth involvement,” she said. They set out to discover why young Canadians historically have the lowest voter turnout of any age category.Contrary to popular myth, the low participation rate is not because youth don’t care. From household debt to social justice, many young people are passionate about issues affecting Canada.“They’re very vocal on social media and active in starting demonstrations and rallies, which is inspiring,” said Tuff-Berg. “Now they need to vote for someone who can represent their views.”She hopes First Vote can help youth make the link between their passion and political engagement.Politicians gear their policies toward the segment of the population that is most likely to vote, she said, and unfortunately, right now, that’s not youth.“Politicians don’t target youth because youth don’t vote. But youth don’t vote because politicians don’t target youth,” said First Vote’s Social Media Manager Rory Bulmer. “At some point we have to get the ball rolling. If we help youth vote, politicians are going to target them.”Associate Professor of Political Science Tim Heinmiller explained to the First Vote crowd the left-right ideological spectrum and how those terms are commonly used to describe Canadian politics.The self-described “pan-partisan” — he purchased memberships in all major political parties in Canada — situated the parties along the spectrum from communism on the extreme left to fascism on the extreme right.“Involvement at the fringes should raise a red flag,” Heinmiller told the crowd, as both left- and right-wing extremists abandon values of democracy and human rights. He urged anyone toying with extreme ideologies to “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”Niagara Regional Councillor Diana Huson (BA ’11, MA ’13, MBA ’17) shared with the group her early experiences with politics, describing her days volunteering for her aunt’s political campaigns as a teen.Huson who also works as Brock’s Manager of Curriculum Management, Policy and Outreach, encouraged attendees to “become informed and engaged in as many ways as possible. This includes potentially putting your name on the ballot in a future election.”“You don’t have to be the leaders of tomorrow when you can be the leaders of today,” she said.Grade 12 DSBN Academy student Justice Landry felt First Vote was an “extremely important” event both he and his classmates benefitted from.“I never knew about politics. We don’t talk about it at home,” he said. “I want to vote but (until today) I knew nothing about it.”The First Vote committee is hopeful Landry is only one of many students who had an eye-opening experience at the conference.“This initiative is an excellent example of the fundamental role that universities play in developing good citizens who want to make a difference in their communities,” said Ingrid Makus, Dean of Social Sciences. “I applaud the students, faculty and staff engaged in this significant project.”The First Vote organization includes Political Science undergraduate and graduate students, as well as volunteers from Brock’s Model UN team.While First Vote currently serves high school students in Niagara, there’s potential to expand into Hamilton and other areas of the province.“We’d like to spread this message and do cool things throughout Ontario,” said Tuff-Berg.For more information or to get involved in First Vote, visit the organization’s website.First Vote event organizers Eve Nyambiya, Rory Bulmer, Noah Nickel, Carlin Saunders, Kailene Jackson (front), Hope Tuff-Berg, John Turner, Nour Hage and Keaton Scarff were pleased with the turnout at the second-annual event held at Brock May 8. read more

Women who choose not to go to university face bigger salary gap

Women who choose not to go to university are facing a bigger salary gap than men without degrees, new figures show, as Penny Mordaunt says the issue must be tackled.By the age of 29, men who complete higher education earn eight per cent more than men who don’t, according to the Department for Education and the Institute for Fiscal Studies.However, women who complete a degree take home 28 per cent more pay than females who haven’t been to university.Women and Equalities minister, Ms Mordaunt says that while there is a lot of focus on advancing women at the top levels of business, a closer look must be taken at how to help females at the lower end of the pay scale reach their full potential.One of the limitations is the disproportionate number of females in low-wage sectors.  “If we want every woman to thrive, to be as financially secure and resilient as they can be, and to reach their full potential we need to broaden out our work beyond, the FTSE 350, beyond London, beyond executives, women on boards and big business.“We need a focus on small businesses, part time work, women from all parts of the UK, low paid women, women with multiple barriers to reaching their full potential, older women, financially fragile women, women who aren’t easy to reach, or measure, or sometimes even to see. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that while 419,018 men aged between 16 and 29 work full time in the construction industry, only 44,444 women have jobs in that sector. In health and social work, which generally has lower pay, 665,287 women aged between 16 and 29 are employed, compared to 159,101 men.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Another factor is that there are far more women working part time than men. ONS figures show that 1,202,375 UK females aged between 16 and 29 work part time, compared to 785,473 men.The Telegraph’s Women Mean Business campaign has shone a light onto the funding gap that female entrepreneurs face when trying to start a business. Currently, only nine per cent of the venture capital money that pours into UK startups goes to women.In a speech made to Bright Blue’s Women in Business conference, Ms Mordaunt said: “There’s a lot of focus on women in boardrooms. Of course, that is emblematic of the progress women are making, but, in truth, this is not the place where business is being re-imagined.  “The invisible women who keep our families our public services and our nation going.”Ms Mordaunt said that 30% of women who were in low paid jobs in 2006 were stuck in low pay a decade later.Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said: “I want to see our universities competing on the quality of what they offer, value for money and strong positive outcomes for their students so that every degree is worth the investment.“This landmark research proves that the graduate earnings premium remains robust, even as we have made higher education available to more young people than ever before. Higher education is delivering for students, the taxpayer and the economy, and will continue to do so as long as we focus relentlessly on quality. read more