Prime Minister Trudeau meets with his Youth Council, a group of young Canadians who provide non-partisan advice to the Prime Minister and the government. Photo courtesy of the Government of Canada

Speaking Out: Fresh ideas for Canada and Church

By  Kevin Geenen, Youth Speak News
  • February 28, 2018
It has been a year of firsts for youth involvement.

Last June, the Vatican launched its online youth survey in preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People. It was the first time that synod organizers had ever conducted an online survey for the public.

Last month, another online survey for youth was launched, this one by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with the intention of developing a national youth policy.

The government’s survey website (YouthAction.ca) lists why they are conducting the survey. “We need your help to identify issues important to youth and solutions to improve the lives of young Canadians,” it says.

Replace “Canadians” with “Catholics” and you have the Vatican’s survey, which closed Dec. 31. The Vatican goal was to examine how the Church “can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love, and to ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective way to announce the Good News today.”

I think surveys are definitely a good thing and even more so if they are used for their intended purpose. If problems are solved, then everybody benefits. But even if nothing comes out of them, people at least feel as if they had some input.

I wouldn’t say that either survey had the best format though. While the Vatican survey was thorough in terms of the topics it covered, the wording was often confusing. There was even one question that provided 16 answers to choose from.

As for the government’s survey, it should have included multiple choice questions that were specific rather than broad topics that must be expanded upon.

Regardless of the format, it is encouraging to see that youth involvement is an important priority. Hopefully, we are able to bring some fresh ideas to the table.

Both surveys have a strategic aspect to them. The government hopes to get youth more involved in politics and let them know their voices matter. But I wasn’t too engaged in the government’s survey because I am skeptical that they will listen to issues that are important to me (ie. free speech on campus, conscience rights, etc.).

I think that it is more of a public relations stunt and their list of topics — like “gender equality, inclusion and accessibility,” and “environment and climate change” — just seem to reinforce the Liberals’ already existing platform points.

I was more excited about the Vatican survey as the Church does not often look to the public for direction, especially in an online format. However, the complicated format of the Vatican survey really dampened some of my original excitement.

I think that both the government and the Church are definitely using these surveys as a way to reach out to youth. Whether any concrete policy from both the government and the Vatican will come out of them is another question.

(Geenen, 18, is a first-year communications and political science student at the University of Ottawa.)

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