Baba Brinkman to young voters: My mom is the leader for you

Of British Columbias 36 federal ridings, only two are held by Liberal MPs. But of those two MPs Vancouver Centres Hedy Fry and Vancouver Quadras Joyce Murray one is vying for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Joyce Murray is a veteran politician perhaps best known for her environmentalism. For those unfamiliar with her politics, a crash course: she is an advocate of carbon tax, is against pipelines through BC, and is in full support of legalizing marijuana; she is also in favour of uniting the Left, and defeating the Conservatives through co-operation between the Liberals, NDP, and Green Party.

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We spoke with Murrays son, Baba Brinkman, about the barriers to getting young people out to vote, and his mothers chances of securing the Liberal leadership.

And you thought Justin was the only option

Who are you? Im a rap artist and playwright from Vancouver, now living in New York city, writing and performing hip-hop theatre off-Broadway. Im also the son of Joyce Murray, the most highly-qualified candidate currently running for leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, and Dirk Brinkman, an environmental entrepreneur whose reforestation company recently celebrated one billion trees planted in Canada.

What is the greatest barrier to engaging young people on topics they arent necessarily interested in? It is the assumption of irrelevance. If I assume something isnt relevant to my interests, then I will be disinterested in it by definition, but I think most people are open to having their assumptions challenged and their minds changed. I like to show a direct link betweenthe thing that is assumed to be irrelevant andsomething else that is eminently relevant to everyones interests, such as family, relationships, love, struggle, etc.

4) Youth voter participation has been declining.As someone who knows the importance of medium in communicating to different groups, how would you suggest your mother influences and mobilizes young people to vote? My advice from the beginning was: be bold. This was hardly necessary because she is bold by nature. Young people will disengage from politics if politicians are too timid to deal with the world as it is, rather than the world as the political class has become accustomed to describing it. Joyces decision to seek political alliances with Green and NDP candidates on a one-time basis for the purpose of ousting Harper and passing electoral reform, her explicit call for the legalization and taxation of cannabis, and her unequivocal support for putting a price on carbon emissions are all excellent, sensible, progressive policies. They are only controversial because people are entrenched and afraid.

5) A major motivational barrier to youth voting is the belief that no party/candidate speaks to issues relevant to them. What would you say to convince them that your mother has appeal to them, that she is on their side? I would ask what they are worried about, excited about, and unsure about when it comes to their future, and what they think ought to be done about it. Climate change weighs on the minds of young people more than policymakers acknowledge, because it has the potential to severely impact their generations prospects, both in terms of the local economic picture and the wellbeing of other people around the world. Joyce wrote her thesis on climate change in 1992, before many new voters were even born. Any issue at all that young Canadians have a strong feeling about, I guarantee Joyce will have something to say about it but I wont guarantee theyll like it. Their response will depend on their politics, since obviously it would be condescending to imagine the youth vote as completely homogenous. As Michael Franti says: If I dont have enemies, Im not doing my job.

6) Can she compete with Justin Trudeau for young votes? My mother can compete with Justin Trudeau for youth support about as well as I can compete with Justin Bieber for record sales. But luckily she and Trudeau are on the same team. If she wins, he will be at her side to rally the youth vote for the general election, and if he wins, Joyce will be there to offer experience and policy acumen to his cabinet. I still think she is a better choice for party leader by a mile, but politics (like the music industry) is as much a popularity contest as it is a meritocracy.

7) Why would your mother make the best leader? She has proven leadership experience, in the BC legislature, and shes an unstoppable problem-solver. When she was a cabinet minister in Victoria, I was a graduate student working on my Masters at UVic, and we would go for coffee every morning and go through the papers and discuss every politically controversial issue of the day, every policy initiative, every competing agenda. She has a system for working through intractable conflicts, bringing everyone to the table, hearing them out, consulting experts, scientists, environmental groups, business, everyone with a stake, and in the end designing a policy that maximally balancesa concern for the common good withthe freedom of individuals to pursue their goals.Shes genuinely gifted when it comes to understanding and implementing good public policy. I hope Canadians give her a chance to show them whats possible.

The federal Liberals vote for a new leader on April 14.

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