By Faria Ahmed
For the first time on Millennial Things Blog, I interviewed four Canadian Millennial Voters, each voting for one of the four major political parties in the upcoming Federal Election (unfortunately I could not find anyone from Bloc Quebecois). These four individuals, all between the ages of 18-30, shared their perspectives on the political party they had decided to vote for and the issues that were driving that decision.
As I began the interviews, I was curious to find out how four young men, all with similar levels of education, all living in the same part of Canada, with similar personal and economic goals in life, could have such different takes on what is best for Canada and how to get there.
*Disclaimer: All four participants interviewed requested to remain anonymous. All four individuals interviewed are Canadian Citizens, eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 30, they are all male and they all plan on voting in this upcoming federal election in October 2019. The interviewed individuals were from various ethnic and religious backgrounds. All four participants reported that their ethnic or religious background had some level of influence in their voting decisions.*
For the first portion of the interview, I asked them questions to better understand who they are voting for, their alternate choices, and the policy issues that were guiding their decision-making process this election.
Q.1. Which three issues are the most important for you, on the basis of which you haven chosen to vote for a candiate/political party this year:
It was interesting to see that there wasn’t a specific set of issues that my millennial peers were prioritizing. Income taxes, environmental policies and healthcare were among the top three issues that seemed to come up among all four voters, yet they paid varying degrees of importance to them. Unsurprisingly, the conservative voter believed that balancing the country’s budget and improving upon economic growth should be a priority. So, I went ahead to ask exactly what about these core issues was driving them towards their preferred political party.
Q.2. Please explain what positions they have taken on these issues which convinced you to vote for them:
Liberal Voter: “I’m voting for Liberals because in my home riding, the toss-up is between the Liberals and the Conservatives. While my political views generally align with the NDP, the potential personal costs of a Conservative government simply outweigh any harm done by the Liberals. In a toss-up race I would always vote for the leading left option.”
I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear this take. Many many liberal voters who weren’t very happy with Trudeau’s past term had told me the same thing. They would much rather have an NDP victory, however, the NDP numbers were nowhere close enough. They feared a conservative victory much more than they were disappointed by the Liberals. It saddened me to see that, much like the last US election, people were being asked to choose a ‘lesser evil’ than being asked to vote for who they truly admired or who they believed proposed the best policies. People in the US who were then disappointed in the Democratic Party, were then being asked to vote for Hillary Clinton, in fear of allowing a greater evil (i.e. Trump) from gaining access to the While House. I do not support the idea of placing that burden on the public to ensure the worse candidate does not get power, but that’s a rant for another day.
Conservative Voter: “I believe their platform compared to others is the least committed to regulating the freedom of citizens. Compared to other parties they are more committed to free expression, low taxes, protecting the life of babies in the womb and are business friendly. Also, compared to other conservative parties like the Libertarian party and People’s party of Canada, the progressive conservatives actually have a shot at winning.”
Again, a voter was making a choice (partialy) on the basis on who has a chance of winning while being representative of their ideologies. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this statement from the conservative voter because it made me realize how differently we view ‘freedom’. This voter was absolutely correct about how the CP party as well as their values may promote freedom of speech and other such rights devoid of government regulation. The voter is probably also indicating the lax regulations when it comes to industry, community, and so on under a CP government. At the time time, I couldn’t help but take into consideration my own ideas of freedom. Freedom of religious practice and freedom of choosing my own sexual or gender identity devoid of harassment or hate speech is something I can only enjoy when the ‘rights’ of some citizens to share ‘hate speech’ is curbed. I also noted that the voter’s idea of freedom did not extend to the right of a woman to choose an abortion, and instead focused on the right of the fetus. I won’t go too deep on this issue in this article today as I want to share a more general overview of who is voting for who and why. Overall, it is apparent that individual freedom and religious principles did play an important role in the voting perception of this voter and it’s something that we need to understand better to making policies that can truly represent the whole population.
NDP Voter: “I’m hoping for a minority government as I do not want either Liberals or Conservatives with majority”.
I absolutely understand this position. I can clearly see how unhappy people are with both liberals are conservatives, and voting NDP is a strategic way to ensure neither of the two main political parties can gain unchallenged power through the formation of a minority government. NDP on the other hand is a party that has had a fair amount of influence in Canadian politics as one of the three main political parties, but never won the election. Some consider them a bit too left leaning, other think they make absolute sense but have no real shot at winning the election for many years to come.
Green Voter: “Generally speaking, I don’t trust the Liberal or Conservative Party enough to keep their promises. I don’t support enough Conservative policies anyway. I generally trust the NDP, but, they’re too similar to the Liberal Party. The Green Party has costed their platform and proposed a 20-step plan for tackling climate change; the NDP has no emissions target, Jagmeet takes no clear stance in the debates, and they don’t even have a climate plan.”
Again, what I could see was the distrust and disappointment of the two major political parties among my millennial peers. I felt throughout this interview that the NDP had a perfect opportunity this election to come in and deliver to the public what the liberals and conservatives had been failing to do, but they had simply missed the mark. While this particular green voter had gone with their rationale and decided to vote for a party with the most elaborate environment policy platform, many others who I had spoken to had told me that while they agree with green, their vote would be ‘wasted’ on a party with no chance of actually winning.
This brings me back to the understanding that voters no longer vote on the basis of actual policies and their admiration of politicians. People now vote strategically. They look at the current reality of who have the most chances of actually taking power as the elected government. They use their votes strategically based on the desired outcome. If they want a party with a small lead to win, they will vote for an opposition or one of the smaller parties, in order to ‘waste’ the vote. If they want a balance of power, they will vote for a chance at getting a minority government. Even if they love a party’s platform, they may not vote for them just because that party is polling at 5% leading up to the election.
While this attitude towards voting may be quite realistic, I personally find it upsetting. The reason it bothers me is that the smaller parties who may have great ideas for policy reform may not be able to grow through increased seats each election year, simply because of this voting attitude. This will keep our larger parties in power despite their failures and keep our smaller parties struggling to find some limelight.
Q.3. If your chosen party was not running in this election, which party would you have alternatively voted for?
Liberal Voter: I would vote NDP
Conservative Voter: I would vote Liberal
NDP Voter: I would vote Conservative
Green Voter: I would vote NDP
Q.4. Which is the one party in Canada’s Federal election that you would never vote for (e.g. you disagree with some of their fundamental platforms)? Please explain briefly why.
Liberal Voter: I would never vote for the PPC (People’s Party of Canada) based on their purposed policies regarding social security, taxation, immigration. As well as the bigoted language and beliefs of their leader and many of their candidates.
Conservative Voter: NDP, although never say never. NDP are explicitly Socialist and Socialism is a failed ideology.
NDP: No party. They all make ‘some’ degree of sense in their own ways. This is the problem with a “right vs left” mentality.
Green Voter: Conservative. Broadly speaking, I don’t like how averse to change, in a word- conservative, the Conservative Party is.
For the second part of the interview, I didn’t add remarks to share the most unbiased and raw form of the voters’ responses. I kept their responses entirely unedited. It was pretty much a rapid fire round about what each candidate’s take on some of the hottest political issues facing millennials this election. Read this second part here.
Who are Canada’s Millennials voting for in the end? Here’s is our review of the published statistics leading up to the election!