Skip to content

Local high schools join forces for federal candidates debate

All seven declared candidates set to participate on Sept. 15
20210902  High Schools debate RV
A virtual all-candidates debate is being organized at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School and broadcast to other city high schools. From left are principal Steve Gulyas, department head of Canadian and world studies Peter Martin and Grade 11 students Martina Gazzola, 16, and Owen Marks, 15.

Local high school students will have an opportunity to compare federal election candidates first-hand later this month, during a virtual debate being broadcast across both boards.

“Responsible citizenship and participation in the democratic process are everyone’s obligations. It’s one of the things that’s really at the heart of our curriculum,” said Peter Martin, department head of Canadian and world studies at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, who is spearheading the debate.

“This one permeates everything. If you’re drawn to the arts or the sciences or the trades, politics is going to affect you,” he added. “This is a great way for students to get involved.”

The debate is set for the afternoon of Sept. 15 and will be broadcast to high school classes across both the public and Catholic boards. Martin said all seven declared candidates seeking Guelph’s seat in Parliament are set to take part in the debate.

Each participating school will select one student to pose a question to candidates. The number of questions to be asked is limited due to the school day schedule, Martin noted.

“It’s everyone’s civic responsibility to vote,” said 15-year-old Grade 11 Bishop Mac student Owen Marks, one of about 10 student volunteers. “I think that by getting into the world of politics and elections early is a great way to incentivize voting later on in life.”

High schools regularly host candidate debates during elections. Having to go virtual this time around due to the pandemic, Martin said it made sense to make it a combined endeavour, as well as being more appealing to candidates.