From Fan to Foe: Why Gen Z and Millennials are Turning Away from Trudeau
Insights from some earlier research on how people feel about Trudeau
I just finished listening to this fascinating interview with Prime Minister Trudeau on CBC’s Front Burner. Host Jayme Poisson asks Trudeau some great questions about housing, immigration, and his dropping support among young Canadians referencing many Abacus Data polls. The part when the PM dismisses the polls by asking whether young people even answer polls wasn’t his finest answer, it needs to be said.
When Justin Trudeau's Liberals went from third place to a majority win in 2015, it came from a surge in participation and support from Canada's Millennial generation. Eager for change, this generation became the backbone that buoyed the Liberals, sustaining their reign during the challenging elections of 2019 and 2021 (along with Gen Z in the last election). For a good read on what happened in 2021 along with a chapter a wrote about Millennials, check this book out.
In the early years, Trudeau was heralded by young Canadians as the quintessential leader for a new age. The new Prime Minister appointed himself Minister of Youth. He seemed attuned to their hopes, fears, and aspirations. He radiated empathy, appearing genuine in his intent to make Canada better for its youngest citizens.
A survey I did for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations confirmed all of this. Young Canadians believed that their lives would get better with the Liberals and Mr. Trudeau in power.
But the love affair was not to last. A recent Abacus Data poll now shows the Liberals holding stronger appeal for those aged 60 and over than for those under 45.
And there is no longer any difference in impressions of him across age groups. This seismic shift begs the question: What went wrong?
Top of the list is policy disappointment. When it comes to the critical issues - cost of living, housing, healthcare, the economy, and climate change - younger Canadians feel the Liberals have dropped the ball. For generations that prizes competence and pragmatism, the Liberals now lag behind in addressing the very concerns that resonate most with them. Be it skyrocketing real estate prices and rent or a feeling that the standard of living is dropping quickly, many in Gen Z and the Millennial bracket feel that Trudeau's Liberals are out of depth, leaving them third in rankings on handling major issues.
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However, to understand the full scope of this disillusionment, it's crucial to peek into the psyche of Canadians. A survey conducted in February offered participants a chance to describe Trudeau using three words. The responses are revealing.
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