Why the youth voice needs to be heard by the leaders

Posted Friday, September 20th, 2013. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I have been following the articles in the National Post about my Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. The article focuses on the ten years since he became a party leader. Some feel that Stephen Harper remains an enigma to many Canadians. Enigma, for those that don’t know is a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling or difficult to understand; A riddle or paradox.

From Monday to Thursday articles have been provided that follow Stephen Harpers journey into, out of, and back into politics; his choices and lack of, his promises – ones kept and ones pushed aside. I am not going to recount his entire journey. That is not my purpose today. As a person he holds strong values around family, commitment and loyalty.

What I want to focus on is how the thoughts he held about the political system as a young man drove him to bring change and challenge systems and yet today he and his cabinet have created systems that too need to be challenged. In fact, some of the very things he fought for as a young man are things that I believe today need to once again be challenged by our youth.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not unique to the political system. In fact, he is more the norm than the exception. When he became interested in politics he moved to Ottawa as a young man to work as a legislative assistant. But after a year, Harper grew disenchanted with the slow pace of change, even with his party of choice being in power (Brian Mulroney’s Tories). He was so fed up with what he saw in Ottawa (our nation’ capital city) and the way politics was carried out. It didn’t matter which party was in power it was all top down. Things were decided and he felt you don’t really have any influence.(quote from the articles).


The irony is the very thing that drove him to leave his initial political position and return to his studies, is what exists today. Currently as Stephen Harper runs his party he is definitely top down, change is slow and those most impacted, especially our youth have very little voice for change and are forced to deal with a political system that has been perpetuated. The young man who once railed against deficits, political patronage, the appointment of senators, corporate bailouts and granting unique status to Quebec, is the same person that has gone on to commit all of these supposed sins. (quote from the articles).

I do not doubt his initial desire about changing the democratic system. Politics can be engulfing and exhausting and over time you can lose sight of the initial intention. This happens the world over. This is why we need to hear the voice of our youth for they are a mirror to remind our leaders, “hey we don’t like what is happening and it’s impacting us and our future”. The youth must be part of the solution. We can no longer discount them.

Do I agree that first our youth need to learn to communicate. Yes, however, I can say the same for Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford. Do I agree that solutions need to be sustainable and executable? Yes. What the youth offer is a different perspective and perhaps a different way of going about change. That does not mean that we have to discount everything. No. It means that perhaps with a few tweaks that together we can create change that is relevant for today.

Sometimes it will mean the systems that initially were challenged by our leaders and created in their past are no longer relevant for today. So be it. Let’s find what works and discard the rest. The world is moving at such a fast pace that we do not have time to just sit around. It is time for our leaders, Canada included, to bring the youth into the conversation for change. I am not the only one saying this. It’s bringing policy makers, government, educators, employers and youth to start a serious discussion on what the next two decades will look like, what changes need to be made and how can we make it executable and sustainable. Every country wants to prosper and grow and from many indicators Canada is not on this path.

Yes, we have the most educated youth in the OECD. We also have the highest number of youth (nearly 50% I beleive) living in poverty. That is unaccetable.

I want to end with those people who are including the youth as part of solutions especially to do with our current education system or lack of. Robert Martellacci wrote an article for the Globe and Mail’s BACKBONEMAG.com in their September/October issue (p. 15) and he shares an experience that he recently had. He says, “Recently, I spent a weekend as a mentor at the Startup Weekend Toronto EDU event. Youths formed teams that created techonoloy solutions, and companies addressed many of the challenges that education faces today. Question: What happens when you engage future leaders with diverse backgrounds such as engineering, computer sciences, designers, marketing and business students in one room? This is where the magic happens. Teams created solutions such as parent communication tools, personalized scholarship search engines, and virtual field trip tools, to name just a few.”

One of the biggest issues for Canada is we lack a national education system. This needs to change.

Our youth understand adaptability, collaboration and working in teams. I am not sure the adults that run country’s can say the same.

Martellacci finishes his article saying,”Understanding our youth and providing them with opportunities to explore, learn and grow is critical to nurturing their future success.”

Let’s open up the coversation and listen to our youth. I am looking to assist them and guide them through the release of my new booK; a millennial resource handbook: We’re not gonna take it: a youth’s tool bag of essential life skills for transitioning from high school to post-secondary education to the workplace. The hardcopy will be ready Oct. 2nd for shipping, the PDF version is already available (best option) and the E-reader version are being produced right now. I am excited about assisting our youth in teaching them essential life skills that most have not been taught and then how to take these skills and apply them to life choices. This book is also about giving our youth the tools to create that voice and learn to speak up, challenge systems and begin to bridge the gap between the millennials and boomers so we can tap into knowledge and insight from both. The book will be available shortly on my site (www.2bempowered.com).

I am excited about the days ahead. I am not delusional to think that this will come easily. I do believe the collective consciousness is more in aligment with collaboration and change than ever before and will continue as we move further into the Age Of Aquarius.

I want to wish all of you a wonderful weekend.

All my love,


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