The last two federal elections have brought disappointments at the polls for the Conservative Party of Canada, but there has been at least a silver lining in the losses.
Over the past three years, the party has rejuvenated.
That’s a good thing, says Ontario MP Adam Chambers, the Conservative representative for Simcoe North and himself a millennial. He broached the subject at an event co-hosted by The turntable and the Cardus Institute in downtown Ottawa earlier this month.
“We are not just a group of old white people. In fact, many of the young caucus members are women. And if you look at the shadow cabinet of the Conservative Party today and compare it to the actual government cabinet, I can only think of a single millennium in the cabinet. Most of them are older; most of them are over 50 years old. So I think this is an opportunity for us.
The Liberal government’s cabinet has just four millennials, while the Conservative Party has almost three times as many millennials in shadow cabinet positions.
“The data actually shows right now, for the very first time, at least at the federal level, that the Conservative Party, while leaderless, is ahead among 20-29 year olds by a wide margin over the federal Liberal Party. . Also with the 30 to 39 year olds,” Chambers said. “It’s the first time it’s happened. So for me, it’s very exciting.
While Justin Trudeau came to power in 2015 with an unprecedented youth vote, support from this demographic has recently collapsed at the expense of the Liberals. A recent poll by Nanos Research shows they average just 22% support among voters aged 18-29.
But will young voters hungry for change really surrender to the CCP – or will their disaffection drive them further left?
An online survey, conducted by Public Square Research and The turntable and conducted with the Leger Opinion (LEO) online panel, found that 73% of Canadians describe the cost of living and inflation as the most important issue right now, particularly among women and young Canadians, because adults aged 35 to 54 are most likely to be affected and women slightly more than men.
When it comes to soaring house prices, just 11.8% of 18-34 year olds chose the Liberals as the most reliable party to deal with the crisis, according to this recent poll by Nanos Research. 20.4% chose the CCP while 32.6% chose the NDP.
Whether or not the CCP can lure young Canadians away from the left may depend on who their leader is. Whereas some candidates Continuing the strategy of appealing to the more reliable and older demographic leader Pierre Poilievre hopes to completely change the equation by appealing to disgruntled new voters with no political home.
Poilievre, himself only 43, made his appeal to young Canadians explicit during the election campaign, with inflation and cost of living issueshousing and the removal of bureaucratic gatekeepers as central elements of his argument.
It is a pitch suitable for those who are dissatisfied with the current political consensus and are fed up with the failures of elites and institutions that impede their progress. Sean Speer, That of the Hub editor and another panelist who spoke at the event, believes there is an opportunity for the conservative movement to capitalize on this energy.
“The question, of course, is what do we do about [elite failures]? And I actually think that’s an interesting tension within this younger generation of conservatives; that there is a movement reflected in parts of the broader right that has a lot of energy behind it, that wants to challenge these dominant institutions and is willing to use state power to do so.
It’s not just material concerns that drive young voters, Speer warned. If the conservative movement in Canada is to succeed, it must apply conservative first principles to address issues that affect the whole of people’s lives, not just those centered on economics or market reforms.
“In 2022, I guess a lot of people in this room came to Conservative politics not because they’re motivated by whether the top tax rate should be 29% or 33% . They are driven by questions about life, or questions about the shrinking space to express their faith in the public square… If we are prepared for this, we can shape the future of conservatism, including on these issues. But it’s up to us,” he said.