Edward Martins-Berki first got involved with politics on his eighteenth birthday, swapping traditional coming-of-age antics for a membership in Canada’s Pirate Party.
As a video game design student and member of the tech community, Martins-Berki held an interest in the party for some time, and joined as soon as he had the chance (and the candles on his cake had been blown out).
Now, four years later, Martins-Berki, about to Graduate from King’s, is the official leader of the Pirate Party of Canada.
“I hold philosophy in very high regard,” says Martins-Berki of his choice to become engaged with politics. “I have come to realize that politics is an extension of personal ethics, and that I have a personal duty to my country. Either I get involved with politics, or I get involved with the military.”
Martins-Berki isn’t the only King’s student to have taken on some lofty political goals.
Entering his third year, Curran McConnell is an active member of the Young New Democrats, with similar motivations for becoming involved in politics. He is both the youth representative for the Electoral District Association of Halifax-Chebucto, and the co-president of Dalhousie’s NDP Society.
“I really like being part of the public process of speaking and being involved,” says McConnell. “I think that actively caring about what happens makes me a better and happier person.”
For McConnell, being engaged with politics is also a revealing experience: “The machinery of our democracy happens at a really local level,” he notes. “It’s actually been eye-opening to me to see how much real influence there can be for ordinary people to get involved with their local politics.”
As students the individual contribution to politics is of particular interest to both Martins-Berki and McConnell.
Martins-Berki says The Pirate Party operates off of the principle of ‘empowering the individual’, and encourages communication and discussion to establish policies.
“We are trying to decentralize (the) notion of leadership, and we’re trying to encourage individuals to run on their beliefs,” says Martins-Berki.
“Disagreement is dialectic,” he says with a grin.
For both Martins-Berki and McConnell, it is their time at King’s that has fostered this passion for creating political change at the individual level.
McConnell finds that understanding the history of Western political systems has “really given (him) an incredible apparatus for thinking about politics.”
“I can see the basic presumptions that structure our politics and knowing what our presumptions are, I’m in a position to more readily alter my presumptions,” he explains.
For Martins-Berki, one of his fondest memories of King’s is of a moment during his first year, when a group had come together in the Manning room to discuss, as King’s students often do, the existence and substance of God.
“You had all these different perspectives, and all these personalities coming and talking to a very controversial opinion,” Martins-Berki recalls.
“Politics is not about winning,” he says. “We want to voice our opinions, we want to make sure that other politicians can hear it, and maybe make a change through them.”
Correction: This article originally stated Edward Martins-Berki’s name to be “Edward Martins”. Our error has been corrected within the article.