Researchers brought a sobering message to the annual convention of the right-leaning Manning Centre Friday: most voters under 35 aren’t connecting with the conservative movement, and if it wants to reach them, more than just messaging needs to change.
Making Conservative policies more relevant to millennials — a younger demographic not consistently defined, but most often referring to voters under 35 — has preoccupied a federal party that doesn’t want to sit on the Opposition bench for very long. Under interim leader Rona Ambrose, the Conservative caucus has been seized with this at recent strategy sessions.
But findings presented Friday to attendees of the conference, organized by the right-leaning think tank named after and spearheaded by Reform Party founder Preston Manning, outlined the scope of the gap between the conservative movement and the bulk of this demographic, which currently makes up about a quarter of Canada’s population and more than a third of its work force.
Social conservatism? Forget it, that’s for baby boomers, explained Heather Scott-Marshall from Mission Research, taking the audience through the findings of a national political values study conducted last October.
While some candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party may think there’s support to be gained by championing “Canadian values,” that won’t fly with this group, her research suggests.
“They don’t want any great authority telling them which cultural values need to be favoured over other groups,” she said
Her findings suggest younger voters strongly support minority rights and about half of the younger voters surveyed believed the government isn’t going far enough to protect minorities.
“They do believe in a big tent and inclusivity — in as much as they trust themselves first, they want everyone to have an equal shot,” she said.
“I think the message where we’re declaring war on transgendered people and undocumented immigrants and…