The Carlington Summit

Released on November 19, 1999 -


On July 12, 1999, Elections Canada announced that it had unilaterally decided (without consulting parents, school boards, or provincial Ministers of Education) to enter schools across the country to conduct a national youth poll - the National Election for the Rights of Youth.

According to documents obtained under the Access to Information Act, various federal government departments and agencies (Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Heritage, Human Resources Development, Industry Canada, the National Capital Commission, and the National Film Board of Canada) are spending about $500,000 taxpayer dollars on this exercise. UNICEF Canada is apparently spending $150,000.

On November 19, 1999, Elections Canada announced the results of this “vote”:

Only 3.8% of all students in Canada participated in this exercise.

Only 6.9% of schools conducted the vote.

However, 100% of taxpayers paid for this poll to be conducted in our schools. The main results:

24.2% - Family
19.6% - Food and Shelter
10.7% - Health

Other options all polled less than 10%. 2.3% of ballots were spoiled.

Reality Check about the Results:

The federal government just spent half a million taxpayer dollars to find out that 3.8% of kids feel their family and food are important. Families would much rather that the government stop spending their tax dollars on ill-advised public relations exercises, but give them the tax relief they need so that they can put food on the table for their children.

As the low participation rate indicates, the vast majority agree that it is inappropriate for Elections Canada to enter Canadian schools to conduct a poll of children without the approval of parents, school boards, or provincial Ministers of Education. Many school boards in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Prince Edward Island rejected participation in this exercise by their schools.

We should let kids be kids, and let them enjoy their childhood. This particular “rights” vote was the wrong vehicle to teach children about democracy.