Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Harnessing The Energy Of The Young


Generational conflict awaits Canadians -- unless the young are brought into the political process. And Franks Graves' latest polling suggests that is not happening. Graves reports:

Among younger Canadians there is clear sense that the playing field is tilted to favour older voters. This perception may be grounded in harsh realities about how the economy, our democracy and our public institutions are performing. The youth vote is increasingly irrelevant to the business of winning elections — so political agendas tend more and more to reflect the wishes and fears (both real and imagined) of older Canada. This, in turn, may be leading to the permanent political disengagement of the young — who increasingly see a political process that doesn’t reflect their needs, their concerns and their ethics.

The Harper government has focused its pitch solely on baby boomers, whereas the children of the boomers have been forgotten.The gap between them and their parents is profound. The young are:

much more ethnically and culturally diverse — and more educated — than previous generations. They grew up in a digital climate and are completely at home with modern information technology. Their social values are highly progressive — but they suffer from being the first post-war generation that failed to benefit from the middle class covenant of intergenerational progress. They’re entering their peak years of economic influence and they’re raising families now — but they will never have the political and market clout enjoyed by the boomers that preceded them, and will be shoved to the side by the larger echo boom of Gen Y and millennials now coming of age.

And the Gen Y folks are even more distant from the present government's agenda. Together with the GenXer's, they don't buy any of the Harperian prescriptions for this country:

They are extremely progressive in their social values; the small-c conservative values of hard work, self-reliance, traditional family values and respect for authority are basically meaningless to this generation. They’ve entered a stagnant and unequal economy and their futures look much less bright than those of their parents at the same stage of life. They’re deferring the usual rites of passage — starting a career, marrying, building a family — further and further into the future.

So what is the Harperian plan to deal with the young? Turn them off and keep them turned off. As long as the young stay away from the polling booths, the Harperites feel they are safe. However, it's clear that the future belongs to the politicians who can harness the energy of the young.


mogs moglio said...

Perhaps Justin may be that one politician he has appeal and charisma. But is he right for Canada. I personally would like very much to see a Liberal/NDP coalition in the next government with a strong green party representation and zero CPCers..

Owen Gray said...

If there's going to be such a coalition, Mogs, the Libs and the Dippers are going to have stop going after each other's jugulars.

mogs moglio said...

Ya because when they bleed each other to death Harper wins. Why in the name of creation can they that blind stupid? Beats the heck out of me.

Owen Gray said...

They need to focus on the clear and present danger, Mogs.

Rural said...

Who can blame our youth for non participation in political choices, even for those of us having to spend less time on simply surviving the choices are stark at best. Whilst I agree with Mogs as to what I would like to see (particularly with the Greens holding the balance of power!) the use of that dreaded word 'coalition' is as popular amongst our political parties as the other 'c' words of 'cooperation' and 'consultation'. Like the mushroom we are kept in dark and fed a load of 'c'rap.

The Mound of Sound said...

What I don't get, Owen, is why this younger generation - so well educated and enlightened - can't be organized to turn out to vote. One or two elections with a strong youth turnout and every party will be tailoring policies to attract their support.

They see politics as a ginned up game for old people and they ensure that's the case. Theirs is a self-fulfilling wish. They don't grasp their civic responsibility to the country, the society and themselves that can only be met by getting out and voting.

Lord knows the foregone youth vote would be more than enough to tip a lot of ridings to progressives. If only they voted Harper and his ilk would be finished.

Owen Gray said...

Exactly, Mound. By not voting, they ensure that the system is tilted against them.

Owen Gray said...

We fail to realize, Rural, that our system encourages coalitions. But making coalition work requires real leadership.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

It's true that Harper focuses on the boomers and not the young. Everything should be done to work with the younger Canadians, so they will vote in 2015.Having said that, they themselves have to want to change this country politically, starting with voting Harper out.As a boomer, I find it hard to anyone from my generation can vote for Harper. I find the older I get the more liberal, not conservative minded I become. I wonder what % of Harpers supporters, both young and old are fellow evangelicals and that is why they vote for Harper.

Owen Gray said...

I've seen no numbers about Harper's evangelical supporters, Pam. But, judging from the legislation he's passed, my hunch is that they are a sizable part -- if not a majority -- of his base.

Scotian said...


While I agree that both sides between the Libs and Dippers need to stop going after each other as much as they do, I also think it needs to be said that the weight of which side is worse for this is not evenly split, as the way the harassment issue unfolded demonstrated. It is much more the Dippers who are actively aggressively refusing to have anything to do with the Libs, cooperate with the Libs, etc, and it is clearly because for them they see the Libs as their real threat electorally. The Libs have less motivation to see the reverse, as our voting history clearly shows, and a lot of the present antagonism is as much reaction to the last decade of the attempted murder of the Libs as a party federally by the NDP. Especially given the way they were treated after the 2011 results gave the NDP Official Opposition status when suddenly merger when they were the dominant party was seen as the only sensible course to stop Harper from the same voices that claimed it was so anti-democratic prior to that election.

Look, I know I am hostile these days to the NDP, and more sympathetic to the Libs, but I am in large part because of the actions and choices made within each party and their leadership. I was always first about stopping Harper, and watching Layton team up with Harper in their mutual aim of Lib destruction and the Dipper refrain of Lib Tory same old story in 2006, 2008, 2001, despite the clear evidence that the CPC was not the same at all as the PCPC, well that kind of demonstrates a problem at the core of the NDP when it comes to any chances of cooperation with the Libs.

Not to say the Libs are blame free here, but I have never seen the same intensity of hatred for the NDP within Libs circles as I do Dipper circles about Libs, and to fail to not make the point that it is the NDP more than the Libs that are the main opponents to any cooperation against Harper feels dishonest to me, which is why I am making this comment.

Actions speak louder than words, and Dipper actions show they do not see Harper as their greatest foe, no, that is Trudeau and the Libs. The Libs are clearly placing Harper first, and Dippers second, and at least in part act in a defensive manner to what the Dippers say/do. This is just what it is, and I wish when people sigh and comment on how frustrating the fact they can't get together against Harper that it would be nice if the reason why this is true is placed properly on the main reason for it, the NDP.

to be concluded...

Scotian said...


It may be for entirely understandable reasons dealing with basic electoral survival, and all that, but it doesn't change that it is clearly the NDP that is the real reason there is no cooperation. I really think the Libs would be willing to do some IF they felt they could trust the NDP to not stab them int he back, much as Mulcair and the NDP did on the MP suspension by outing their own MPS as the complainants while claiming it was Libs doing that outing. That incident really showed just how bad it is, because I really do not think Trudeau expected the NDP to decide to out the complainants as members of their own party, let alone to then continue to speak for the anonymous MPs while claiming their privacy needed to be protected.

For me that incident showed just how toxic the reality is between the two parties, AND how much of the most intense anti-cooperation from the leadership comes more from the NDP than the Libs (again, not whitewashing the Libs here, but it is clear that this is not evenly split/balanced, it is clearly one side significantly more than the other).

So please folks, make sure you lay the blame where it most belongs when you sigh at both parties, sure, name them both, but don't leave it looking like it is evenly split between the two, that is all I ask. I'm very frustrated about this because I have been watching this dynamic act as Harpers best friend for enabling his rise to the PMO and then to majority government (although Ignatief was only barely behind Layton for the 2011 result, as I have said before).

I am tired of the Dippers getting away with this crap, and I am old fashioned enough to believe that responsibility needs to be placed where it actually belongs as shown by the actions of all parties. This is a real sore point with me, not because I am a partisan of the Libs, but because I tried so hard to stop Harper and watched one side go out of its way to enable Harper because they were more concerned with the Libs even AFTER the Libs lost government. A little over a decade ago I could in good conscience swing between PCPC, Liberal, NDP and Green, now I am down to two, and Green in this riding is a wasted vote, and federally I just do not see them as any realistic chance to rids us of Harper, which as always is my primary goal. I really miss that feeling.

Sorry Owen, it's just something that has been bugging me that finally came out. I just think that if the NDP showed a true willingness to do so then the Libs would probably be willing to do so as well, but at this point the bad blood the Dippers created, most recently on the harassment issue, makes that appear all but impossible to me. I just want the NDP to own what it should on this point, and not all put on the Libs as I've seen far too often whenever this topic comes up, or even just acting like both are equally to blame for this.

Dana said...

Good gawd...where to begin.

The reason some young people don't vote is because I do vote.

What claptrap.

If Graves is accurate about their "values" I agree with them wholeheartedly.

I place that in quotes because as much as I know Graves understands the meaning of the word 'values' I have a hard time believing that these "young" do.

I think they understand fashion.

And I think they have the depth of of an grease slick.

Owen Gray said...

Today's NDP isn't David Lewis' or Ed Braodbent's NDP, Scotian. They are focused on power more than policy. And they have forgotten who they used to be.

mogs moglio said...


I do not know where to begin because I could not agree with you more and I agree with Owen as well.

Me personally want to see the "bad blood" gone and a new era of consultation/communication and working together. You know a real coalition, Canada's Parliamentary system is tailored to that. We have a more responsible government if a coalition rules the roost so to speak, instead of a fowl dictatorship as we now have.

Owen Gray said...

The young -- because they're young -- are not noted for their wisdom, Dana. There are exceptions. The young lady who received her Nobel Prize yesterday is an exception.

But they do possess energy. And they possess a sense of injustice. The leaders who can harness those two qualities can change the direction of this country.

Scotian said...


Oh so true, yet they still like to eat their cake and have it by claiming they are the party of principle, that they are a different kind of party. To call that male bovine excrement these days is to do an injustice to it IMHO. These days the NDP at its leadership level is clearly all about expediency for power with a thin outer shell coating of principles to hold the hardcore Dipper vote which is blinded by that gloss to the rot underneath, well blinded by it and the aforementioned Lib hatred (although I have seen more and more signs of this wearing off and these core Dippers out in the nation starting to see the true nature of the current NDP, especially under Mulcair who I see as a true self expediency driven politician first, I still remember when he first became a NDP MP how he tried to organize his own power block against Layton until he saw it wouldn't work), to become the NDP version of the socons that Harper has been able to count on, and likely to get as much of their agendas/desires met by a Mulcair NDP government as they have with the Harper government, if even that much given the record of Provincial NDP once they finally form a government.

I trace this rot to Layton, both for his own decisions and change of the focus of the party from principles first to expediency/seats first, AND to the party itself for letting him make such fundamental changes without a fuss, even though he dd so without submitting it to the party first for ratification/approval which had been how the NDP operated up to that point. Part of what irked me so much was how willing so many Dipper activists were to let Layton ignore their processes, silence his critics within their party, all because they trusted him (in fairness he clearly was one of those that was means being justified by ends, but his ends were aligned with NDP goals given his own history within the party, Mulcair though, not so much) to use that power for traditional NDP goals once he got it. The fact that the means being used almost guaranteed the ends would not come about did not appear to be recognized, in no small part because to this day most Dippers fail to understand the truth about the voting demographic. That they are not mostly progressives, but mostly centrists, it is we centrists who are the true plurality and who tend to be the ones who decide who becomes government.

I find it remarkable that during Laytons tenure that the only former leader we ever heard from was Broadbent who was a Layton booster, we never heard from other senior Dippers, and we never heard any serious criticism of the choices made, especially regarding the Harper CPC versus the Libs being seen as the primary threat, which is not what I was used to seeing from the NDP in my lifetime.


I would too, but at this point the outcome of the next election will have the Libs ahead of the NDP once again is almost a certainty, and now that the NDP have had a taste for official power thanks to having had the perks of being Official Opposition I suspect they will be even less inclined than before to enter any kind of coalition government to keep Harper out of power. The NDP have gone out of their way over the past decade to poison that well, and then piously claim it is all the fault of the Libs. While the Libs were the weaker brand/party that had short term gain for them, but now that the worm has turned we are seeing the long term negatives. Not to mention the fact they are still at it as I noted with the way the NDP acted when Trudeau suspended two of his MPs for personal misconduct thanks to one of their MPs, who Trudeau was clearly trying to shield from exposure when he made this announcement about his suspension of those MPs.

I said in 2011 the night of the election that Layton won the battle to lose the war should and likely would be his political epitaph. Nothing since has made me feel I was wrong about that.

Owen Gray said...

There are a few commenters in this space who admit to being disillusioned with the NDP, Scotian.

I'm sure they don't represent a broad cross section of the population. However, I have to wonder how many other Canadians feel as they do.

mogs moglio said...

Scotian I hear you and wish I could solve our Canadian political situation, keep your good posts coming...

Dana said...

Owen, who told you they possess a sense of injustice and injustice against whom?

Do you have a Facebook page? Or better yet does one of your grandchildren/grandnieces/nephews have one?

Pick an injustice - one that has no direct connection to their lives - so no makeup products, no organic coffee stuff - and just post it. Don't do any commentary to connect it for them just post the story.

I've done this on my page on several occasions just to see how my younger family members respond.

They don't.

Now I know this doesn't mean that they don't get it or they aren't upset or even that they don't rush off and donate 2/3 of their income to it or move to wherever it's happening and take up arms.

But if they do any of those things they tell no one.

And that's really not like them at all. They have very porous boundaries - they tell everybody everything - especially on Facebook.

My family members aren't the entire generation. I know that. And I spent the better part of a decade working in market research and opinion polling.

Try it.

Also it must be said - lots and lots of them know there's really no future.

Owen Gray said...

It's your last sentence that really hits home, Dana. I agree that Facebook encourages youthful narcissism. It encourages narcissism, period.

The real problem is that our present leaders don't factor the young into their decisions. And the young know it.

Dana said...

And the young know it.

Which, if true, only magnifies my point. Because, based on their response, this appears not to bother to them over much.

Owen Gray said...

No, it doesn't, Dana. And, if the situation continues, we are doomed.