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In conversation with Grant Clitsome

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2015 (1505 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If you ask Winnipeggers who Grant Clitsome is, one of the last things they'll say is he is a political junkie.

The Winnipeg Jets defenceman, who underwent back surgery this week and is out indefinitely, is known for his play on the ice, but he's also developing a website called YourDemocracy.ca with his friend Nicolas Mann, a retired soldier who served in Afghanistan and worked at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Clitsome and Mann created the website with the goal of engaging people in the political process; specifically younger people. It's a push to help people understand not only who they should vote for, but why it's important for them to vote.

Mann studied political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, and Clitsome minored in political science at Clarkson University in New York, where he played hockey before being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004. Both men grew up in Ottawa and were often exposed to politics from a young age.

They're in the process of holding meetings with each political party to get them to contribute information about themselves on the site. There is no current timeline for launch of the site.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2015 (1505 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

If you ask Winnipeggers who Grant Clitsome is, one of the last things they'll say is he is a political junkie.

The Winnipeg Jets defenceman, who underwent back surgery this week and is out indefinitely, is known for his play on the ice, but he's also developing a website called YourDemocracy.ca with his friend Nicolas Mann, a retired soldier who served in Afghanistan and worked at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Clitsome and Mann created the website with the goal of engaging people in the political process; specifically younger people. It's a push to help people understand not only who they should vote for, but why it's important for them to vote.

Grant Clitsome

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Grant Clitsome

Mann studied political science at Carleton University in Ottawa, and Clitsome minored in political science at Clarkson University in New York, where he played hockey before being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2004. Both men grew up in Ottawa and were often exposed to politics from a young age.

They're in the process of holding meetings with each political party to get them to contribute information about themselves on the site. There is no current timeline for launch of the site.

Clitsome recently spoke with Free Press intern Stephen Burns to discuss the website and politics in Canada.

 

Q: When did the idea for this website start?

A: "We came up with it during the NHL lockout two years ago. My friend (Nicholas) was working for NATO and came back to Ottawa and was having a hard time finding a job. With me having the lockout we had a lot of time on our hands. We both have an interest of politics and saw the need to develop something accessible. A more user friendly approach to politics and being able to access information more readily."

 

Q: What are your thoughts on young people and politics?

A: "The goal is for everyone to use the site, but ideally we see a need in trying to engage a younger demographic in politics and you try and create that accessibility to the information and removing barriers of intimidation for them. In this day and age, people want access to stuff quickly and easily. Things happen pretty quickly and with social media and everything people are more geared towards that."

 

Q: What was your experience with politics growing up?

A: "It started a bit younger than university age. My earliest recollection is classes you take in high school, learning how the government works. That sparked my interest and living in the nation's capital you're exposed to a lot of it. When you're really young, driving by the prime minister's house was a cool thing. As you get older you realize what that means, having the prime minister and members of parliament there."

 

Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of politics in Canada?

A: "I feel like it goes one of two ways, you have people interested and passionate about politics and people who don't pay too much attention or aren't interested in what's going on. That's pretty obvious with the voter turnouts in recent elections. I think it's something that can be changed. If it's engrained in your society and culture, it becomes an important part of your life. Voting is a responsibility that needs more attention, there needs to be more effort in reaching the younger generations in voting and knowing their vote does make a different."

 

Q: Why is it important to get young people involved in politics?

A: "To me, the most important thing is that they are our future. They're future leaders, future voters, future citizens in this country that are going to make a difference. To be able to have a strong democracy you need as much participation as you can get. Knowing the process and knowing the things government effects is important in voting. They're already engaged and interested and informed in the political process and therefore will be more likely to vote and have an opinion on what's happening."

 

stephen.burns@freepress.mb.ca

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