Students get to air election issues across the country 

By Wendy Smith

Samira Dossani has spent the past few weeks directing a federal party campaign video for national television. Not something most 22-year-old university students could lay claim to, but Dossani is one of four Concordians taking part in Canada AM’s Election challenge.

Eric Dufour, Samira Dossani, Harold Simpkins and Orit Misrachi, all of the JMSB backstage at the Canada AM taping. Magnifying glass

Eric Dufour, Samira Dossani, Harold Simpkins and Orit Misrachi, all of the JMSB backstage at the Canada AM taping.

CTV chose four universities and colleges across the country and randomly selected a federal political party for each of them to advertise in a 20-second television spot.

Concordia was assigned Elizabeth May’s Green Party.

CTV has been airing the ads one at a time since Monday, with Concordia’s ad the first of four to hit the screen. The competition winner will be announced after press time after a panel of advertising experts critique each spot.

The political commercial has become a permanent fixture on the election scene. But the typical go-for-the-jugular attack ad is a far cry from the message Dossani and her team wanted to send. Said their faculty liaison, JMSB senior lecturer Harold Simpkins, “Their strategy was to provide motivation for young people to vote. The emphasis is not so much, ‘vote for us,’ as ‘get out there and vote for your future'.”

Routinely branded by the media as apathetic and disengaged from the political process, young Canadians have typically turned out at the polls in fewer numbers than their elders. An online survey [pdf] released Oct. 1 by the Dominion Institute found that the number of Canadians aged 18 to 25 who said they “definitely” plan to vote on Oct. 14 is at 50%, down 7% since the last federal election.

When Dossani came across these statistics while researching her team’s strategy, she wasn’t surprised. “I wasn’t that much into politics before this — I would vote every year since I was 18, but it was kind of last minute and my parents dragged me,” she said. “The political parties need to speak to us, or we won’t really take an interest. And that’s important, because we are the future voters.”

While Dossani and her team - Orit Misrachi and Eric Dufour of the JMSB and Mina Vladimir and (alternate) Mélanie Schaffer of Communication Studies – didn’t get to choose which party they would be advertising, Simpkins figures it worked out for the best. “The Green Party is a good one for them. It fits with their interests and values,” he said.

“The Green Party is the only party that really caters to young voters,” said Dossani. “In our ad, we tried to make young voters realize that.”

Dossani, a marketing major, was able to draw from her experience last year promoting a non-profit organization for one of her JMSB courses. “It’s very different to advertise a political party. We’re used to doing campaigns for products like 7-Up and Lacoste. A lot of the skills I used in that (non-profit) class helped me with this.”

Dossani was also keen to team up with students from another department. “Working with (Communications Studies students Vladimir and Schaffer) taught us so much, from editing to filming to getting the lighting just right. It was fun because we don’t always get the chance to go outside our own faculty.”

This marks Concordia’s second go-round at political advertising. During the 2006 federal election, students from the JMSB produced a print ad for the Conservatives.

This year the other participating schools included the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Niagara College and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.
Check out Concordia’s ad for the Greens at

For results and judging comments, check back here after Oct. 8.


Concordia University