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Harper gets an earful from students: 'Surprise. We are voting'

Students at the University of Guelph rallied to remind Stephen Harper that, despite a campaign to lure seniors, they intend to vote, too.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

It looked like a scene from Braveheart, with more than 250 University of Guelph students standing on a hill overlooking Stephen Harper's campaign stop in the southwestern Ontario city Monday.

Instead of blue face paint like the storied Scots, their faces were striped red and white. Along the line, a lone bagpiper played an uplifting reel.

Soaking from the pouring rain, the students carried a banner reading: "Surprise. We are voting." They chanted, "We will vote."

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It was a non-partisan rally, organizers explained, designed to fight apathy among young voters in an election where all parties are heavily courting seniors because of their commitment to casting ballots.

Those behind the demonstration were also responsible for what they called a "Vote Mob video" on YouTube last week that challenged younger Canadians to exercise their right.

They were responding to a challenge from comedian Rick Mercer who says this election youth should do something unexpected and take 20 minutes out of their day to cast a ballot.

"We're calling on students everywhere to celebrate the vote and ask themselves what kind of Canada they want to live in," co-organizer Gracen Johnson said.

"Politicians need to act like students will be going to the polls because right now, Ottawa isn't ready for us."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More

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