Jim Flaherty's budget may have been full of happy talk. But, Frank Graves writes, Canadians -- particularly young Canadians -- are not happy. They know they've been had:
The simple fact is that the agenda of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is no longer about an incremental, gradual shift away from a progressive state to a model of minimal government embodied by neo-conservative Reaganism or Thatcherism. The public may now see trickle-down economics as a cruel hoax — but it still seems to be the theory informing the current government’s approach to the economy.
Stephen Harper has led nothing less than a profound transformation of the federal government. The ratio of federal government revenue to GDP is now down to 14 per cent — the lowest level seen in over 50 years — and the current budget makes it clear that this is a work in progress.
Graves' latest poll, however, indicates that young Canadians aren't on Harper's side:
The change we see happening seems to be in the realm of small-c conservative values. As the government has shifted right, the public has shifted away from conservative values. This is especially true of younger Canadians, who are less likely to vote than other citizens — a fact that goes a long way in explaining the paradox of a government and an electorate going in different directions.
In Europe and the United Kingdom, commentators have noted that while the younger generation is the most socially progressive, it is less collectivist and statist. It would appear this is not the case here, where younger citizens are much more likely to rate minimal government as a value lower today than they did in 1998 (those the under the age of 25 give “minimal government intrusions” a mean rating of 42, compared to 62 in 1998). At 42 on a scale to 100, this means that minimal government as a political value has virtually no relevance for younger Canadians. The only place it continues to resonate is in older, conservative Canada and the Langevin building.
The Harper Party works on the assumption that the young don't vote; and, therefore, they have nothing to fear. But make no mistake. This weekend's Liberal convention is all about coralling and directing the youth vote.
The young know that they will have to pick up the tab for the Harper years.