Yes, I know, it really hasn’t been that long since we were the same person. What can three years really change? Well, evidently, a lot. The first piece of wisdom I have to offer is this: your adolescent years are a perfect time to get involved in politics. You’re young, idealistic, full of energy, and the people you meet, the experiences you have, and the skills you gain will all help you to grow and mature into a confident and smart adult (or so I hope — after all, I’m not fully out of adolescence yet!).
Right about now, you’re beginning to solidly identify as a Liberal supporter, which is great. You’ve done your research, you keep up to date on Canadian politics, and you’re passionate about a key set of issues. What’s next?
Something you don’t fully realize until later in your political career is that the best way to get involved in Canadian politics is by directly joining a party and diving in headfirst. It can seem daunting to start, but as you soon find out the Liberal Party of Canada is comprised of a passionate, welcoming and diverse group of people who all want you to be as enthusiastic about Canada’s future as they are. Nothing to be shy about! You can go to http://www.liberal.ca/ for updates about how to get involved, how to join the party, and to find out what’s going on in your federal riding (including any youth activities to get involved with!).
When you’re sixteen you’ll begin to learn more about how the party works in each riding, particularly through a Federal Liberal Riding Association. Don’t be shy about getting involved! You get involved and attend the Annual General Meeting (AGM), and having put your name forward for a position, are chosen as the Youth Director. This means that you’ll get to attend meetings of the board, and have a say. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice. Politics is wonderful because it’s not age that matters. Instead, it’s the quality of ideas brought forward and your willingness to participate in different initiatives. Don’t be the token youth – instead, be the one with the good ideas and the plan for moving forward.
Another thing that you enjoy is working on campaigns, particularly Leadership Campaigns. In 2012/13 you get involved provincially with the Gerard Kennedy leadership campaign and attend the leadership convention in 2013 as a delegate. Because everyone at the convention is a Liberal, you’ll get to meet so many wonderful contacts, mentors and friends that will help you in the future.
If you want to meet people from other political parties, organizations like CJPAC are a great way to do so. Through your participation in the CJPAC Generation program for high school students, you’ll get to hear speakers representing a plethora of different opinions, and meet other passionate teens that identify at all points on the political spectrum.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring other people along with you! In politics it’s numbers that win, and if you have people at the AGM to vote for you, or to help you hand out flyers or go canvassing, you’ll get the respect you deserve.
Don’t be shy, get involved, and remember: people will take you a lot more seriously without the Pippi Longstocking braids.
Best of luck!