Justin Trudeau Is Creating a Youth Council and We Have Some Advice
Let's pretend we aren't cynical about politics for a moment.
Prime Minister Trudeau mingles with some youths. Photo via Facebook.
Carve another notch in the prime minister's desk, folks: Justin Trudeau is really fucking us again. Can you beli—wait, sorry, wrong website.
Right. Justin Trudeau announced this week that his office would be taking applications for a (non-partisan) Youth Advisory Council, allowing Canadians between the ages of 16 and 24 to weigh in on important national issues like employment, education, climate change, and tech or something, probably.
Prospective members will get a seat on the council based on their community involvement and leadership criteria, which in 2016 will presumably involve factoring in how long you held the top title at your community mailbox Pokémon gym. He also announced this initiative in a live Q&A session on Twitter, which is damning right out of the gate because everyone knows that all the cool teens are actually posting their social witchcraft on Snapchat.
As someone who spent an alarming amount of time between the ages of 16-24 being told by politicians that "young people are the future" as they slapped us on the back and shuffled us out of the room, my gut instinct is to be cynical. I fear that this is less of an earnest effort to bring fresh voices into the federal government than it is a glorified focus group that will feed young blood into the Liberal PR machine so that Justin Trudeau, vampire-like, will keep us in his youthful thrall forever.
But then again, maybe not. Trudeau is a teacher by trade and such a fierce fan of the Katimavik youth volunteer program—axed under Stephen Harper—that he had its logo (temporarily) tattooed on his arm when he beat the shit out of Patrick Brazeau. Establishing a Prime Minister's Youth Advisory Council is apparently his own personal passion project, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he actually does care about what young people think.
So, let's throw cynicism to the wind and take the Liberals at their word (lol). There are a number of pressing national issues that require youth input and here in no particular order is a non-exhaustive list of those things.
This country is at a crossroads. The government has already committed to having a legalization framework in place by spring 2017 and they have assembled their 420 Task Force and started soliciting feedback through an online survey. But ask yourself: how much do you trust Canadian technocrats not to somehow fuck this up? The answer should be very little. VICE has already put together a handy guide on how to fill out this survey and we really can't stress enough how important it is that you take the time to help keep legal weed cool.
But it definitely wouldn't hurt to have at least one connoisseur on the Youth Advisory Committee to give Trudeau some pro tips. Maybe he will even blaze with the older kids when it's all official. Now that's turnt.
The fun thing about "the environment" is that we are currently approaching—if not already passed—the event horizon of irreversible global environmental catastrophe occurring by the end of the century. The other fun thing about it is that everyone currently in a position of power to do anything about this problem will be long dead before shit hits the fan and therefore powerfully disinclined to think about the long-term consequences.
Not that the 16-to-24 set is especially inclined to towards abstract contemplation of personal or planetary mortality as it plays out over the course of a century. But it is at least conceivable that North Americans in their teens today will be around to deal with some serious climatic fallout in 60 or 70 years—or sooner, actually, if/when the oceans acidify. Given the stakes, it's probably worthwhile to get some policy input from the generation who will have to pay tomorrow for what's (not) done today.
OK, look. Here's the deal: university is a scam. The proliferation of bachelor's degrees means they aren't worth what they used to be—degree inflation is the necessary outcome of grade inflation. So now, people have to spend longer times in school chasing higher credentials in order to show prospective employers that they have invested more value into their human capital, because we live in Hell and there is no social value to higher education except insofar as it produces more valuable cogs in the capitalist machine. Add to this that the 21st-century Academy is basically a pyramid scheme funneling money up to its executive board, and that—unless your parents are rich—spending so long in university piles on more and more personal debt that makes it harder for young people to get their lives started, and you have a recipe for disaster.
So it would be great if more of the people at the bottom of that pyramid started weighing in on how the federal government might either help make these (increasingly necessary) credentials more accessible or otherwise alleviate some of the burden involved in getting them. It might be too late for your tragically underpaid sessional instructors (cries into his beer), but it's not too late for you.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the phenomenal popularity of Pokémon GO among the 18-35 set is a sign that a) we surely do live in an age where mass culture is defined by nostalgic auto-cannibalism and b) youth underemployment is extremely goddamn real. Not that there's any shortage of work to be done (overhauling the economy to not murder the planet will require modest effort) or sharp young workers to do it (see: "Education"). But clearly something in the machinery of our so-called knowledge economy is jammed.
Maybe all those screeds about entitled millennials are right and our vile love of selfies is robbing us of meaningful work and rapidly inflating income inequality and fucking up the housing market. Or maybe it's something else. And maybe—unless it's your dream to use your graduate degree to slave away in the #content mines for pennies on the .gif or hock fried chicken for minimum wage—you should get on this committee and help the prime minister figure out what it is.
NEW LAWS RESTRICTING THE ABUSE OF MEMES BY MAXIME BERNIER
Tfw not even the Legendary Freedom Pokémon can make kids #FeelTheBernier.
Trudeau has already promised that 2015 was the last election that would ever be held under our current voting system (Single Member Plurality or "First Past the Post"). This is a huge moment to alter the way we send representatives to Ottawa, which in turn could alter the kinds of voices that are heard and recorded in the halls of power. Youth input to the reform process is important because while an advisory committee is nice, the best way to address any of the problems noted above is for young people to have their say through an election. Plus, no one is better positioned to tackle the vexing problem of "why don't young people vote" as well as actual young people. This definitely involves tinkering with how we run elections, but even more than this it requires that political parties become genuinely receptive to the concerns of young people and offer them policies they actually care about instead of the "children are our future" bullshit pandering that passes for "youth politics" in this country.
Alternatively, we could also just replace elections altogether with a politically-themed Much Music VJ Search. Couldn't be any worse.
All told, if you fit the bill for this committee, you should apply. Especially if you genuinely care about politics—and I mean care as in you have experienced or thought about these and other problems and want to make living in this country suck less. I don't mean "interested in politics" as in you have memorized Robert's Rules of Order and wear a suit and bowtie to class on the regular and you are the sort of awful parasite who treats the world around you like debate club, all bloodless posturing as an extension of your own ego. We have more than enough of that. We need real human beings. Basically, what I'm saying is we need VICE (or even Buzzfeed) readers on an advisory committee next to the throbbing heart of Canadian power.
Follow Drew Brown on Twitter.