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Are two nontraditional campaigns harbingers of change or momentary hiccups? I am cynical about politics. I remember a time when I believed that politicians actually made a difference and could effect social change, but the current state of affairs in Canada – the attack ads, the sound bites, the lack of substantive policy discussions, the scandals, the contempt of Parliament and the constant bickering among politicians – has made me wonder whether real change can come through formal political structures and institutions. And I am definitely not alone. Studies, polls and statistics indicate that Canadians, especially young Canadians, are disengaged. Voter turnout dropped with each successive election until the slight increase in 2011 and interest in formal politics appears to be at an all-time low. Individuals who want to effect change have largely shifted their focus to other arenas, including NGOs, social movements and protests and demonstrations.

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