We value: Our readers.
Our independence. Our region.
The power of real journalism.
We're reader supported.
Get our newsletter free.
Help pay for our reporting.
Tyee News

A 92-Year-Old Activist's Advice For Defeating Harper: Vote

See Harry Smith explain how 'to get the citizens of Canada up off their asses' at rousing June 16 event.

By Geoff Dembicki 1 Jun 2015 | TheTyee.ca

Geoff Dembicki reports on energy and climate change for The Tyee. Find his previous stories here.

Most 90-year-olds want to live out their last days in tranquility. Harry Smith prefers to spend them defeating right-wing politicians. A writer for outlets like the Guardian, as well as an anti-austerity activist with over 37,000 Twitter followers, Smith visited 30 cities across the United Kingdom this spring in a spirited but unsuccessful effort to get his fellow citizens to vote down the Conservative government of David Cameron. He just landed in Canada to take on his latest target: Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Smith believes that the federal election this fall has real potential to "change Canada for the better." But for that to happen, "we have to get the citizens of Canada up off their asses," he explained in a phone call from Ontario. "If we ignore our democratic duty to vote, we will be entering a dark age." Smith's words were directed especially at young Canadians. If 20 per cent more of them had voted in the 2011 election, the pollster Nik Nanos has calculated, Harper likely wouldn't have won his majority.

"Somehow we have to instil hope in the young," Smith said. How exactly to do so will be one of the major themes of a public event The Tyee is hosting with the 92-year-old activist on June 16 in Vancouver, during which Smith will draw practical political lessons from nearly a century's worth of personal experiences. After his lecture, I'll draw from my own years of reporting on democracy and sustainability for The Tyee to lead Smith in what is sure to be a fascinating onstage conversation.

I'll also be drawing from you, Tyee reader. If you haven't got a ticket for the event, make sure to buy one here. They're going fast. And then let us know what burning question you'd like us to ask Smith. It's a rare chance to pick the brain of someone who's lived through the privations of pre-war England and the revolutions of our Twitter era. Use this Tyee poll, or the comments thread, to submit your question.

Need some inspiration? Watch this great introduction to Smith, his life and work, below.

Read more: Federal Politics

Share this article

The Tyee is supported by readers like you

Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Get The Tyee in your inbox


The Barometer

What do you think of the idea to charge a recycling fee for cigarette butts?

Take this week's poll