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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Political Attitudes of Young Canadians

By David McGrane

Attribution: “McGill student vote mob 2011” by Adam Scotti / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I recently published a report with the Broadbent Institute comparing the political attitudes of Canadians under the age of 35 with the political attitudes of Canadians over the age of 35.

Three things to know about the political attitudes of young Canadians:

1. Compared to older Canadians, younger Canadians are much less likely to prioritize economic growth over environmental protection and to want increased government spending on the environment.

2. More than older Canadians, younger Canadians want an activist government that creates jobs and ensures a decent standard of living. Further, more younger Canadians are socially progressive than older Canadians and want a government that adapts its moral views to changes within society.

3. While a strong majority of Canadians want either higher or stable spending on social programs, more young Canadians are keen to see higher spending on health and education than older Canadians.

Three myths about the political attitudes of young Canadians:

Myth #1: It would be incorrect to say that young Canadians are always to the left of older Canadians on every issue. Solid majorities of young and older Canadians both want to see higher corporate taxes and do not want governments to increase their spending on either crime and justice or social assistance.

Myth #2: While there appears to be little appetite among Canadians for increases to personal income taxes, only a minority of Canadians has bought into the tax cutting agenda. Indeed, 62% of Canadians want personal income taxes to be kept the same or increased. Young Canadians also appear more willing to forego tax cuts than their older counterparts.

Myth #3: Interestingly, young Canadians are slightly less likely to recognize the existence of systematic discrimination of racial minorities and patriarchy (i.e. a male dominated society) compared to older Canadian.

Dr. David McGrane was born and raised in Moose Jaw and did his undergraduate degree in Political Science at the University of Regina and his Masters’ degree in Political Science at York University in Toronto. He completed his Ph.D. in political science at Carleton University in Ottawa and is now an Associate Professor of Political Studies at St. Thomas More College and the University of Saskatchewan.  He has published in several academic journals and his most recent research is a book entitled “Remaining Loyal: Social Democracy in Quebec and Saskatchewan” published by McGill-Queen's University Press.

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