For the first time, younger voters are set to overtake the baby boomers as the largest voting block in Canada, and it’s about time. The planet is dying due climate change, and wages have stagnated since the 1970s resulting in a wealth gap that is partly on generational lines.

While older people enjoy their golf courses and retirement nestegs, Millenials, Gen Xers, and GenYers who will never see the latter are increasingly frustrated and demanding change that helps them, not just their parents.

That said, only recently has there been a real drive to get younger people to vote, recognizing that their votes can finally make a difference. It is with this notion in mind that I write this article.

In this piece I’ll be giving a crash course on the main political parties, but not in the way you’d expect. Instead of discussing their platforms related to the economy and health care, I’m going to discuss the parties based on their plans and track records with regards to issues that concern younger voters: Climate change, LGBTQI2+ rights, and Income Inequality.

This is not to say these issues do not concern some older people. It IS to say that these are the issues that have not been sufficiently addressed for younger voters by politicians in the past.

For the purposes of this article, the main parties I’ll be discussing are the Liberal Party, The Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and The Green Party. Smaller fringe parties like Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party will be addressed in a future article.

Climate Change

The tail end of Montreal’s massive Climate March Friday (photo Jason C. McLean)

First, as Montreal took to the streets yesterday, let’s talk about Climate change.

The incumbent Liberal party’s Climate change platform seems to benefit primarily the wealthy, with much of their programs targeting homeowners – when most young Canadians will never be able to afford to own a home – and corporations. Their platform in this regard includes:

  • Offering a $40 000 interest-free loan to homeowners and landlords to make their homes more energy efficient, with an additional Net-zero emissions home grant available to make clean living more affordable.
  • Cut corporate taxes in half for companies that develop products and technologies that produce zero emissions
  • Protect 25% of Canada’s land and ocean habitats by 2025 and work towards increasing that to 30% by 2030
  • Set a target of zero emissions by 2050

The New Democratic Party’s Climate Change platform seems far more ambitious than that of the incumbents, with plans focusing on punishing big polluters and investing in local clean projects. Their platform includes:

  • Declaring a climate emergency
  • Rolling back tax breaks given by the Liberal government to big polluters as well as abolishing current oil and gas subsidies
  • Reaching a target of carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050
  • Establishing a Canadian Climate Bank to boost investment in Canadian-made renewable energy technology, community-owned clean energy projects and the transition to renewable energy

The Conservative Party’s climate change policy seems far less comprehensive compared to the other parties, and leader Andrew Scheer’s absence from today’s climate marches is also quite telling. Their policy includes:

  • Getting rid of the carbon tax (though their website claims they are still committed to meeting obligations under the Paris Agreement)
  • Launch a green tech patent tax credit for businesses
  • Offering a green public transit tax credit to alleviate costs of public transportation and incentivize its use
  • Have Canada sign agreements allowing us to get credit for helping reduce emissions internationally

True to the party’s name, The Green Party has the most comprehensive climate change platform to address the climate emergency. Their platform includes:

  • Canceling the Trans Mountain Pipeline and other subsidies to fossil fuel industries, as well as denying approval to new pipelines, coal, oil, or gas drilling
  • Ramp up renewable energy targets, with a target of making a hundred percent of Canada’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030
  • Work with provincial governments, “ideally in partnership with First Nations” to determine which former oil and gas wells are best-suited to producing geothermal energy in order to turn liabilities into income-generating renewable energy
  • Ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030

LGBTQ2+ Rights

2019 Montreal Trans Rights March (image Samantha Gold)

Though the Liberal Party has no official 2019 platform regarding LGBTQ rights, they do have an excellent track record when it comes to protecting sexual minorities in Canada. Aside from the symbolism of their leader marching in Pride Parades and raising the Pride flag on Parliament Hill, the government has made some dramatic improvements to LGBTQ rights in Canada.

This includes adding gender identity or expression to the definition of hate crimes in the Canadian Criminal Code, as well passing legislation to permanently destroy the past criminal records of people convicted for consensual sex with same sex partners if such sex would be legal today.

The New Democrats have integrated LGBTQ rights into their platform on fighting hate in Canada. Their list of the different forms of hate to be addressed include homophobia and transphobia, with their platform including better access for victims of hate crimes to services, support, as well as a say in court-related services that may impact their safety.

Their platform also includes establishing a National Working Group to fight online hate, and addressing radicalization though youth-focused community-led initiatives.

Symbolically, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been seen at Pride parades and drag shows, tipping generously at the latter.

On LGBTQ rights in Canada, it is the Conservative Party that has by far the most to answer for. Their leader, Andrew Scheer is a self-professed devout Catholic and social conservative who has criticized marriage equality on the record. He is also the only federal leader conspicuously absent from Pride marches.

When questioned about his current position on LGBTQ rights, Scheer has been extremely evasive, giving people just cause to fear that transgender and LGBTQ protections will be rolled back under a Conservative government. Also telling is the lack of a policy platform addressing this issue on the Conservative Party website.

Though the Green Party is being criticized as a greener version of the Conservatives, their LGBTQ platform is quite enlightened. It includes ending discriminatory blood donation bans, banning medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, and banning and condemning conversion therapy – which attempts to force a more straight binary form of sexuality and gender expression on LGBTQ people, despite wide disapproval from the medical and psychiatric communities – in all its forms.

Their platform also includes ensuring access to comprehensive sexual health care and gender affirming health care including hormone treatments, blockers, and surgeries.

Income Inequality

(Image via Press Progress)

This is the one that infuriates young people the most because surrounding the issue are criticisms from baby boomers that if we just bought less coffee we wouldn’t be in so much debt when they entered the job market at a time when you could afford a home with one minimum wage job as opposed to the many we need to afford basic expenses. That said, here is what the main parties are doing to tackle the issue.

The Liberal plans seem to benefit primarily middle class families when so many young people cannot even reach a middle class income. Their plans include:

  • Lowering cell-phone bills by 25%
  • No taxes on the first $15 000 of income earned
  • Cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%
  • Creation of a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive that would cut 10% off the purchase price of new homes

The NDP’s plan to tackle income inequality is far more comprehensive and seems to target all Canadians, not just the middle class. Their platform includes:

  • Universal prescription drug coverage for all Canadians regardless of job, age, health, status, or income
  • Investing five billion dollars to create five hundred thousand quality affordable housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, and waiving federal GST/HST for the construction of these affordable units
  • Expand public education “from kindergarten to career”
  • Free dental coverage for families making under $70 000 a year

The Conservatives plan to address income inequality has some similarities to that of the Liberals in that it centers on cutting taxes and regulations, though the nature of these cuts does not seem to vary depending on the means of individuals. Their plan comprises of:

  • A universal tax cut for all Canadians
  • Address the housing crisis by easing building regulations to facilitate the building of new homes
  • Build pipelines to create jobs
  • Exempt home heating bills from the GST

The Green Party’s platform recognizes the increasing precariousness of work and the growing gig economy that is exacerbating unstable incomes for younger voters. It also acknowledges the ongoing poverty rates. Their platform comprises of :

  • Establishing a Guaranteed Liveable Income program to replace current income supports including disability, social assistance, and income assistance with payments set at a liveable level for different regions across Canada
  • Set the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
  • Design and implement a national mental health strategy to address the link between mental health and productivity
  • Enhance the use of Community Benefits Agreements to increase inclusion economic opportunities for people of color

Over the past twenty years there has been a lot of apathy among young voters who felt like their votes didn’t count. That is all about to change. For the first time in a long time, young Canadians have a chance to have their voices heard within the system, not just on the streets.

Voting day is October 21, 2019. GO VOTE!

You can also let us know who to endorse in the FTB Election Poll

Featured Image is a composite of four separate paintings by Samantha Gold

Last month’s 2017 Federal Budget contains some good news for fans of housing rights. Despite this, the the new pan-Canadian National Housing Strategy (as yet unreleased) may risk excluding our most vulnerable citizens (women, racialized communities, seniors, etc.) by refusing to recognize that housing is a basic human right and needs to be part any comprehensive housing policy.

Minister Bill Morneau actually did mention housing rights in his address on March 22nd, something that is unheard of in the House of Commons from a ruling government, let alone a Liberal Finance Minister. Standing at his desk, he declared a “National Housing Strategy to protect every Canadian’s right to a safe and affordable place to call home.”

At the risk of indulging my own paranoia, though, there is something fishy about the fact that Morneau specifically mentioned the word “RIGHT” in English but that this was nowhere to be found in the official Hansard version in French. Make of this what you will. I hope it’s simply a translation error but…

The budget also offered a very promising sum ($11 billion) over 11 years for the National Housing Strategy and renovations and repairs required by affordable housing stocks. That may seem like a huge number, but it should be kept in mind that this figure will be divided into several federal/provincial/territorial programs, and only for as long as the Liberal government stays in power.

11 years is an eternity in federal politics. Further, almost half of that amount ($5 billion) will be going to a new national fund for housing, managed by the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Society, and they have yet to announce how that money will be spent.

Despite the crisis, no money was set aside for the development of new social housing stocks.

Quebec will receive a part of the $3.2 billion allocated for services related to housing. At the same time, between 2019-2020, only $255 million will be provided annually to the provinces.

Aside from these investments related to the National Strategy on Housing, the federal government foresees other sums that touch the housing crisis. Notably, they are re-investing in the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, which had been cut under the previous government. This money will finance life-saving frontline services that help sustain people living on the streets every day.

The government will be investing a further $101 million in the national strategy against gender based and sexual violence, something that will likely help the many organizations that offer refuge and other forms of housing to women who are victims of violence.

Ultimately, we will have to wait for the unveiling of the National Housing Strategy later this year to see how and if the promises made by the Trudeau government in housing will be implemented. It’s only then that we will know how the $5 billion, reserved for the National Housing Fund, will be spent. We will also see whether the government’s talk of the right to housing is merely words, or whether it will be a central part of the government’s national action plan for housing.

My first hostel experience ever was in Montreal. I remember thinking how cool it was to immediately have friends even though I was traveling alone. I fell in love with the idea of sharing space and feeling at home in a strange city.

There are 19+ hostels in Montreal, it is a true International city, full of so much glorious adventure and beautiful diversity. I know that Montreal is also no stranger to the concept of gentrification. As neighborhoods become trendy rent is raised. Former community spaces are converted into hot spots for young, rich, usually white, professionals.

Vibrant artistic communities, reasonable rent prices, beautiful architecture, easy access to all parts of the city and transportation, being close to nightlife hot spots, and accessibility to waterfront are important aspects of a major city.

When I realized that my city, Buffalo NY, had a hostel, I was estatic. I started volunteering there with Food Not Bombs, using the kitchen, and began to talk to the guests and realize that this is the place I must dedicate my time to.

I started working at the Hostel Buffalo Niagara, our one and only youth hostel, over two years ago now. I am proud to be a cultural ambassador for my city.

I have lived here all of my life, I know the ins and outs, the cool places that are under the radar of normal advertisement. The heart of a city is not based on money or greed, it beats because of love and passion.

Buffalo needs a comeback? How about heart. How about if it isn’t broke don’t fix it?!

I am very inspired by my friends who helped save the Cafe Cleopatra with Save the Main and preserved an important space in the Montreal red light district. If people don’t fight for things they will disappear.

I never thought that this was a place I needed to fight for, it is such a vital asset to our community. How can a city call itself accessible and international if it does not have a hostel?

Helping us stop gentrification is a statement against this global trend! NO MORE! Stop colonizing the poor. We are economically vulnerable as a non profit community driven organization. We do not bring big money into the area, but we do bring something that is monumentally more important than that. We bring culture, we provide a safe place for weary travelers, and we treat this place like home.

The term gentrification was coined by sociologist Ruth Glass:

“One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences …. Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.”
-Ruth Glass (1964)

I love my hometown. Buffalo is an incredible city that people have forgotten about. It peaked around the industrial revolution and is only recently seen a resurgence.

We have had a non for-profit youth hostel for the past 20+ years, with over 6,000 travelers from all over the world staying with us. Most are coming to see Niagara Falls or check out the universities and fall in love with Buffalo by accident.

We do not need any more bourgeois restaurants or luxury loft apartments! Buffalo is not freaken luxurious. I do not want the city I love to fall victim to the evils of gentrification.

As of February 1st 2017, 667 Main St, the building housing our beloved hostel, was put up for sale by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

This decision was based mostly on the fact that the back half of the building was left by the city in negligent disrepair. Hostel Buffalo Niagara has continued to maintain and improve the building since the initial city investment of 1.5 million dollars in 1995.

Vibrant murals, Buffalo history, a time capsule of event posters from the past 20 years, welcoming energy, and unbridled passion cover the walls and fill the rooms here.

The Hostel’s lease will end in July 2021. We need stay here forever, not for just four short years! 30 of us walked to city hall in a snow storm to deliver our proposal, I bet no developer did that!

I cannot let this place fall into the hands of big money developers. They see this space as a dollar sign and not as a beautiful and accessible community space!

Help us control our own destiny. We want to continue serving the public and raising the bar for low priced hospitality, accessibility, and sustainability. Buffalo cannot lose our only hostel!

Our goal is to develop the back building for affordable extended stay housing and other cultural opportunities. Some thoughts are possibly a cafe that celebrates ethnic diversity and reaches out to local immigrants to fill the space.

I see infinite possibilities. Do not let gentrification take away our city’s heartbeat, we absolutely do not need more luxury lofts or overpriced restaurants. Protect the people, true culture, and flavor of what makes our city so spectacular.

We are a non-profit landing pad and safe space for travelers and community activists as well as a vital cultural asset to the city of Buffalo and Western NY. We host a wide range of beautiful humanity, people from every country imaginable: backpackers, touring cyclists, veterans, Girl Scouts, international students, refugees, doctors, law students taking the Bar Exam, Finnish folk dancers, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, entire families, circus performers, musicians, artists, and even Vermin Supreme!

All of them have shared meals, adventures, and stories of home and their journey. The best parts happen in the kitchen and common areas, people talking about their travels, connecting, sharing recipes in the kitchen, playing board games or ping pong, going on adventures with the free bike rentals.

Exploring new places with new friends is exhilarating to say the least. Travel enriches lives. Buffalo needs to remain a viable and accessible destination. If the hostel is gone those groups of people will pass this city by.


This is more than just a place to stay, we make real connections with our guests that last a lifetime! People are coming to see Niagara Falls and end up falling in love with Buffalo and all its breathtaking charm.

Hostel employees are cultural ambassadors, we share the secret gems and local favorites, we are all Buffalonians with a passion for our home. We are in a prime location in the heart of the Theatre District. Right out the door there is instant entertainment, libations, awesome architecture. It’s a stone’s throw from the waterfront and Canalside, and easy to find transportation.
We directly collaborate with cultural organizations such as The Buffalo Infringement Festival, Food Not Bombs, GOBike Buffalo, Waste Not Want Not, Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center, The Wash Project, and many more. We host a variety of entertainment, from poetry and bike breakfasts outside to music in the stairwells, ping pong tournaments, dance parties, movie nights, a vegan celebration for Indiginious people, The Box Gallery’s Art openings, and Curtain Up Buffalo are all part of our distinct charm and Queen City realness.

The Hostel is located in the heart of the theatre district and in the middle of a food desert. People ask me “why is Main Street so dead?” It is already beginning to overflow with crap. Beautiful buildings being sold to the highest bidder only to be stripped of all that matters.

I have already seen one of my favorite art galleries and my favorite book shop closed and forced to relocate due to this disturbing trend. We need to protect low income and social housing. Low income people already have instability in travel accommodations and housing, long and short term.

Montreal is grittier than most Canadian cities, and so is Buffalo. There is something special about cities with charm, places that remain true to themselves. Places that respect current residents, uplifting communities and not uprooting them!

You need to change with the people and not force them out due to a change in price. We are proud to be part of our city’s renaissance, however we recognize the dangers that cities face throughout the world as they are revitalized. Urban renewal does not mean lower class extinction.

Once vibrant cities like San Francisco and Portland are becoming shells of their former selves. The communities and culture that made them sparkle are pushed away and discarded by gentrification. True renaissance protects the people, flavor, and culture that makes out city special.

FIGHT GENTRIFICATION WORLDWIDE! STOP THE RISE OF HOUSING COSTS! SUPPORT COMMUNITY AND CULTURE! OTHERS NEED TO STAND UP WITH US, if you have ever stayed in a hostel please share this link. we need to give a shit about this place.

We have started a Go Fund Me to start the uphill battle of saving our home.

Thank you for your support!