Yesterday I took my 11 year old son to a Jack Layton rally at George Pearkes Arena. I am not about to come out and support the NDP in this election. I went because I wanted to show Ben what a political rally is like and to show him that someone running for Prime Minister is someone you can see in person.
I explained to him the theatrics that is politics, the playing to the camera, th earchestrating of the event. Ben made a very observate comment, he said it felt like being an extra in a film.
The concept was that this was a townhall meeting, but in reality it was an NDP rally. I doubt there were more than a few of us there that were not going to be voting for the NDP. Still, it is nice to know that in Canada you still get close to the leaders of the country, that it is possible to interact with them and speak with them.
Since I have been telling Ben about elections he had wanted to know why youth are not allowed to vote. Yesterday he had his chance to ask Jack Layton if the NDP would let kids vote. He said the NDP would lower the age to 16 but maybe theuy would have to consider something lower.
Ben has now had a chance to see how a major national politician answers his question. He has also seen that in a democracy one of the best ways to make your issue matter is to let the leaders know what you think. My goal out of this whole exercise was for Ben to understand more about civic engagement and democracy and to inspire him to become active.
In elections we have the leaders of all the parties come to town, parents should take their kids to see them and meet them. These are the people they see on TV all the time, but they are also real regular Canadians. Ben knows how I plan to vote, but I am helping him understand what all the parties are saying and how the leaders say it. I dissected with him the answer he got from Jack Layton and explained that politicians are between a rock and hard place. They do not want to say no to anyone, but know they can not say yes to most things. Ben could understand why Jack Layton slightly dodged giving him a straight answer. He also noticed that to other questions he simply shifted topics to avoid having to say something the person did not want to hear.