On Tuesday June 23rd, a group of young adults organized a Digital Town Hall to discuss a post-pandemic future with local Peterborough politicians. The group included Future Majority organizers and volunteers; Madeleine Barberian, Sean Jacklin, Ankit Tripathi, Maeve Sharkey, Tyler Valiquette, Chanté White, Hala Hashem and others. Future Majority is a non-partisan non-profit organization whose main goal is to amplify the voices of young Canadians in politics.
The event started off with introductions, personal stories and questions for Peterborough’s politicians on the impacts of COVID-19, mental health and the climate crisis, followed by a public Q & A. The event was well attended, with over 80 Nogojiwanong-Peterborough community members present over Zoom, actively participating and bringing forth needed discussions.
Peterborough Mayor Dianne Therrien and local MP, Maryam Monsef, attended the event as panelists, alongside Mike Perry and Andrew MacGregor. Peterborough’s MPP Dave Smith was unable to attend the event and sent a representative from his office to listen in and relay the conversation back to MPP Smith.
Throughout the event, polls were taken to guide conversations. Questions such as:
Did you vote in the 2019 elections?
How likely is climate change policy going to factor into your decision of who to vote for in upcoming elections?
Is the government doing enough to ensure that post-secondary education is accessible to all?
Do you support the creation of Universal mental Healthcare in Canada?
Following each poll, questions were directed to the politicians present. They were asked about their plans to voice the concerns brought forward at this meeting, especially with regard to concrete actions undertaken to ensure a just COVID-19 recovery, a justice oriented response to climate change, and improving access to education and mental health services.
Though many important questions were asked of the Peterborough politicians, few concrete answers were given, leading to frustration within the comment section and discourse that would not have occurred otherwise. Instead, most of the responses focused on youth needing to take action rather than the politicians themselves. Nonetheless, important information in regards to COVID-19 and the changes that have come about were relayed by all parties, that attendees may not have known prior to the event. For instance, information on transit changes in Peterborough, job subsides, and grants offered by the government.
Overall, there was a general atmosphere of mutual respect between the moderators, attendees and local politicians. The duration of the Future Majority Digital Town Hall was just over an hour with discussion that flowed naturally. In a time of unprecedented global circumstances, it was outstanding to see organizing still taking place despite a pandemic, leading to a successfully attended and engaging event.
The June 23rd Peterborough Future Majority Digital Town Hall was live recorded and is available to replay here using the password: 4W.5@#FKn, for those interested. This event was sponsored by the YES Shelter, the Nourish Project, the Trent Central Student Association, Active Minds, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Green Up Peterborough, OPIRG, and others.