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MPP wants youth focus in next campaign

Kayla Morrison,
Y-Team Reporter Oak Ridges
Oct 26, 2006

Tory MPP Frank Klees is sending a message to youth -- he is willing to listen.

Mr. Klees' focus for his 2007 campaign is to get youth more involved in the new Newmarket-Aurora riding.

"In order to revive, in our province, the very fundamental need to have people engaged in the political process, why not start with our young people?" he said.

Mr. Klees is concerned about the future of Canadian democracy, because over the past few elections, the number of people voting has gone down significantly.

In the last election, less than 55 per cent of people voted. "You don't have democracy if people don't exercise their vote," he said.

The future of Canadian democracy lies with reaching out to youth and engaging them in the democratic process, he said.

"I want to get their attention," Mr. Klees said, "Let them know what they can do and what it can mean to them.

"If you want to have a say in what your future is, then you have to have a say in who the government is," he said.

To get youth involved in the democratic process, he is launching a Good Citizenship Essay Contest, open to all Grade 12 students in public or private schools in his Oak Ridges riding. The subject will be "The importance of my vote".

He also hopes to include youth within his re-election campaign -- in fact, to have more youth involved in his campaign than in any other in the province.

They will learn everything from party policy to canvassing and they will be encouraged to attend public party meetings.

One of the areas he feels strongly about is access to post-secondary education. "I don't believe there is any young person in Ontario who should be kept from pursuing a post-secondary education because of a financial hindrance."

He also wants to incorporate programs into high schools that help, not only those bound for university, but those interested in a trade career.

"I think one of the reasons for our dropout rate is not because kids can't learn, not because they don't have the capacity, but a lot of it is because programs offered at school aren't stimulating them, they're not interested in them," he said.

Now, many young people may be wondering what makes this MPP different from others who promised to listen

"If (the government) want us to be the next generation and do great things for the country, they need to talk directly to us and not down to us," Sarah Lavine, a Newmarket resident University of Guelph student said.

"My door will always be open and your views are important to me and I will commit; having listened I will do my utmost to turn into practical action, the policy that we agree together is what is needed," Mr. Klees said.

"The reason I am so focused on the importance of young people (is because) I was only 24 when I first ran as a candidate for provincial office; I experienced a lot of people; when I went around and knocked on thousands of doors, people said to me, 'Oh. But you're too young, aren't you?' So I heard that thousands and thousands of times.

"I didn't believe I was too young and I don't believe anyone is too young to become engaged," he said.

If you want to raise an issue with Mr. Klees, contact him at fklees@frank-klees.on.ca

Kayla Morrison is an Aurora resident and a member of the York Region Newspaper Group's Y-Team.

You can contact her c/o dteetzel@yrng.com

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