Political candidates for the riding of Penticton spoke to students at Summerland Secondary School on Friday morning at a candidate forum organized by students.
While most of the students are younger than the voting age of 18, Brad Straker, one of the students in the Civics 11 class, said the forum was important to introduce students to the political process.
“It’s so younger people can have their voices heard and explore their own issues,” he said.
The candidates also used the forum to present their platforms and to urge students to get involved.
“This election is really about youth,” said Conservative candidate Sean Upshaw. “The things we do will have a direct impact on you for the rest of your lives.”
Doug Maxwell of B.C. First urged the students to vote carefully and thoughtfully.
“You people are in charge of your vote,” he said. “Do your research. Get involved. The future is in your hands.”
Liberal candidate Dan Ashton said the outcome of the May 14 election will be important for the province.
“It’s your future. You can make a huge difference in it,” he said.
Richard Cannings, the New Democratic Party candidate, said voter participation is needed in order to make a positive difference.
“It’s important for all of you to get involved in your government,” he said.
Dave Stathers, the Civics 11 teacher at the high school, said the forum was held to get students to participate in democracy.
After the forum, students who are able to vote said the comments have been helping them make up their minds as they prepare to cast their ballots for the first time.
Susan Watkins said she was still undecided, but added that Upshaw and Ashton were both strong speakers.
She added that it is important to get younger voters involved in the election process.
“I do believe youth today are very apathetic in terms of governments and elections,” she said.
Chanpreet Hundal, who will also vote for the first time in this election, said she is still undecided, but leaning towards supporting Ashton or Upshaw.
The provincial election is on Tuesday, May 14. Information about the election, the candidates in each riding and more can be found at www.elections.bc.ca.