Vancouver Province, Sunday, June 5, 2005
When politicians play with the truth, it's no wonder young people turn off
by Amanda MacGregor
As a youth, I was filled with anticipation and
excitement at my first chance to be part of a major
It was in 2003, at the Progressive Conservative
leadership convention in Toronto, which I attended as a
Vancouver Quadra youth delegate.
On the last vote, Peter MacKay called on the
supporters of David Orchard (the third-place leadership
candidate) to throw their support behind him, after
signing an ambiguous agreement with Orchard.
I was unsure about MacKay's motives and I knew that I
could make a decision only when I knew where the party
was going and who was the right leader to take it there.
In the final few minutes before the vote, I spotted
MacKay and walked over to him. His campaign manager
brushed me aside, telling me that he did not have time.
But MacKay looked me in the eye and paused: "What
would you like to know?"
Elated, I replied: "Tell me in your own words what
was in the agreement you signed?"
MacKay began to digress and move away, only to have
me interrupt: "Could you outline for me the three main
I sensed as crowd beginning to gather around us as
MacKay finally began to say, unequivocally, that he
would not be merging the Conservative party with the
I put out my hand, thanked him and told him he had my
Not two months later, MacKay in one swift move, broke
his agreement and agreed to a merger with the Alliance,
effectively handing the leadership of the merged party
to Stephen Harper.
This was the man who had told me to my face that he
would not be amalgamating the two parties, and who, for
a moment, had convinced me that my vote really counted.
That was the day I lost faith, not only in MacKay as
a leader, but in my hopes that politicians can recognize
that it's not about them, it's about us, and why won't
Perhaps I can credit MacKay for teaching me that the
struggle to make Canada a better country is a struggle
to make politics more honest.
Small departures from electoral promises can be
overlooked. Major departures and dishonesties seriously
tear apart the glue that holds this country together.
My encounter with MacKay brought this realization
sharply into focus.
Has anything that's happened in the past two weeks in
Ottawa changed my mind?
What do you think? Why is voter apathy growing,
particularly among young people?
Why are party attachments faltering, and personal
values compromised by power politics?
I believe it is because of experiences such as mine,
when an impressionable youth meets a man beginning his
climb to political power and is treated with such
Amanda MacGregor, a fourth-year political science
student at UBC, can be reached at