Last week, TIME magazine released a photo of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau donning “brownface” and wearing a turban. Since then, it has come to light that he has worn brown/black face on at least three separate occasions. Many Canadians were outraged, disappointed and quite frankly, ashamed. With all of this in mind, and with an election quickly approaching, many individuals find themselves at a crossroads regarding how they should proceed with their ballots.

As significant as this event is for many people—for others it just isn’t. Trudeau’s actions, as hurtful as they are for some, are being dismissed. Some supporters are willing to put up with their leader in hopes of securing government but quite frankly, these revelations are not going to be deciding factors between a Conservative or Liberal government, instead they’re going to be deciding factors between a majority or minority Liberal government.

Most individuals that are going to vote in the upcoming election have already made up their mind as to how they’re going to cast their ballot. For Conservatives, these events have solidified their opinions on Trudeau. For Liberals, Trudeau is still the most capable leader they have, with many citing that they must vote for “the best of the worst.”

Trudeau and his actions have brought the many things that Canadians would prefer to avoid to the forefront. Trudeau failed to live up to the expectations that he created for himself. He was the poster boy for political correctness, equity, and social justice, but his words never materialized into action. During the 2015 election Trudeau positioned himself as an individual who will defend the climate, try to further relations with Indigenous peoples, and strengthen our democratic institutions. All things that we have failed to see materialize. Not following through with campaign promises seems to be a norm established by politicians, but just like how students face consequences if they do not complete an assignment, politicians need to be held accountable for their actions and inactions. 

As the election draws near, we must recognize who it is that’s issuing his report card.

Canadians, and specifically young Canadians, must come to terms with the power that they have as critical thinkers, as visionaries, and as voters. Irrespective of what people think about Trudeau, it is imperative that we hold people in power accountable. When citizens set standards for politicians—or politicians set their own—the citizens must stay alert and be aware of whether the principles are being met. The apathetic nature of Canadian politics reflects the lack of judgement and engagement that youth have when looking at these critical issues.

Youth today need to recognize their abilities to influence change. It exists inherently. It is not something that needs to be validated by the institutions that we are trying to reform.

Entering this upcoming election, I hope that, firstly, people vote, but do so after learning about the full context of any narrative. Secondly, people of all ages should demand more from their governments, whilst realizing that their ability to criticize is distinct from their ability to participate in constructive dialogue.

But most critically, demand more from people in power. Demand honest and clear action.

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