|January 16th, 2012 by Student Vote||2 Comments »|
Last week, 15-year-old Parry Sound High School (PSHS) student Keith Pettinger made the news when, via Twitter, he had an altercation with Treasury Board President and Parry Sound-Muskoka MP Tony Clement. Clement posted a tweet with a spelling error, and Pettinger replied questioning Clement’s qualifications as a government official. In a message containing profanity, Clement responded to Pettinger; both sides have since apologized for the dispute. You can read more about the events in an article from the Toronto Star.
By email, we conducted an interview with Pettinger over the weekend. PSHS has taken part in several Student Vote parallel elections, and we wanted to see if this related to his confrontation with a federal minister. In last May’s federal election, Green Party candidate Glen Hodgson defeated Clement in PSHS’ Student Vote with more than 55% of the popular vote; in the riding as a whole, students elected Clement.
Dan: As a student, it is very interesting how you got high-profile attention regarding a democratic issue. Why were you inspired to communicate with your MP?
Keith: I was inspired to communicate with my MP Mr. Clement because I like to know what’s going on around me and what decisions are being made by him for our riding. As he hasn’t been to any of the all candidates meetings that I’ve been to at my schools I felt that I wanted to know at least a little about him. I sent him the message as a little pulling of the leg, joking around type of thing. I just wanted him to know that people are paying attention to what he was saying.
D: Even though you are under-age, do you feel that your MP should pay attention to your views? Did you expect a reply from Mr. Clement?
K: I think that even though I am under-age my MP should be paying attention to me and my views. This is because I am a human, a Canadian, and someone that he is representing to the world. I am a future voter and will in the future help decide who gets elected in my riding. I didn’t expect a reply from Mr. Clement, I expected that at the very most I would get a short little “Thank you for your input” or something similar. When he did reply, and was obviously offended, I immediately apologized.
D: Social media is one way you can be politically active despite the fact you cannot yet vote. What are other ways you try to be politically active?
K: I am on my school’s student council. Also, I go to the all candidate meetings at my school to see what the candidates’ views and feelings are on subjects that are important to my peers and myself.
D: Without going too much into personal politics, have these recent events impacted your political views?
K: These recent events have only impacted my political views in that I now know that even some of the leaders of Canada don’t always have the etiquette and judgment that I, and most people, expect from them.
We would like to thank Keith for taking the time to answer our questions. Please feel free to share any opinions you have on Pettinger’s comments here or last week’s altercation between Pettinger and Minister Clement.
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Non-partisan organization engaging young Canadians in the democratic process.
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