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Canadian millennials estranged from politicians, study shows

A major new study on Canadian millennials finds the young people are largely disengaged from politicians.
July 16, 2015
By Donovan Vincent

Chloe Daley is your typical millennial.

The areas of most interest to her are music and social media.

Politics and religion - much less so.

“I try to stay away from that (politics). I don’t know too much about it, so I don’t talk about it,’’ says Daley, 28, a public servant who lives in Toronto.

She does vote, however.

A massive new study called the Millennial Dialogue Report looked at young Canadian millennials like her and found a large number feel estranged from politicians - a whopping 70 per cent believe the views of young people are largely ignored by most politicians.

In the United States, 68 per cent of millennials share that view.

“This study shows some true disaffection,’’ said Jonathan Sas, director of research for the Broadbent Institute, which participated in the study. The institute is an organization founded by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.

“Whether it’s in feeling that our voices are being heard, that we can trust politicians, that our issues are registering, or that (our issues) are being followed through on, it paints a picture of a pretty jaded millennial electorate,’’ Sas, 30, said Wednesday.

He suggested politicians, especially those involved in the federal election in October, take a close look at the study, and consider prioritizing issues that affect millennials, such as the high rates of youth unemployment.

The new data is part of a large international study that surveyed millennials - young people currently 15 to 34 years old - in several countries in a bid to better understand their priorities and values.

Aside from Canada, millennials in the U.S. Germany, Italy, the U.K. and Poland are being surveyed for separate reports.

For Canada’s report, which compared some U.S. data, 1,634 millennials were surveyed online March 17 to 24. This was followed by a week-long moderated online dialogue with 40 Canadian millennials.

(Because it’s not a random, probability-based sample, the margin of error of the online survey could not be calculated).

In terms of having a voice, the Canadian study found 28 per cent of Canadian millennials feel confident that they and their peers can make themselves heard.

The survey found a generational frustration with politicians in that 45 per cent of millennials believe most politicians want to control and restrict young people - the figure was 54 per cent in the U.S.

Politician was listed as the least desirable profession in Canada, with only 4 per cent of respondents choosing that line of work when asked what they’d rather do for a living. Eighteen per cent answered business owner.

In terms of voter preference in Canada, the Conservative party scored the worst in terms of having the wrong ideas to make life better in Canada - 29 per cent of respondents said the Conservatives had wrong ideas, 15 per cent said the Liberals did, and 8 per cent said the NDP.

As for who best understands young people, 26 per cent of respondents answered the NDP, 23 per cent said the Liberals, and 11 per cent said the Conservatives.

When it comes to public spending, millennials in Canada listed health care, education and job creation as the priority areas.

Among the other notable findings in the report:

When asked to identify their top priorities, millennials said they were very interested or fairly interested in music (91 per cent), new technology (86 per cent), cinema (83 per cent) and using social media (81 per cent).

Forty seven per cent per cent of millennials were either very interested or fairly interested in politics, and that number dropped to 40 per cent for interest in religion.