Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Globe editorial: Younger voters. Younger leaders. Different Canada?

Jagmeet Singh is the freshly minted leader of the New Democratic Party and the first person of colour to capture a federal leadership in Canada. He has another noteworthy attribute, too: his age.

Mr. Singh is 38. His election leaves Canada with the most youthful crop of major federal national leaders in history. Andrew Scheer, also 38, leads the Conservative opposition, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 45.

This fact could have profound implications for Canadian politics.

Story continues below advertisement

By the time of the 2019 federal election, the largest single bloc of eligible voters will be millennials (defined as people born between 1980 and 2000), according to the polling firm Abacus Data.

The thing is, young people in Canada don't vote in large numbers. Will younger leadership reverse the trend?

Results from the 2015 vote that elected Mr. Trudeau's Liberals indicate it might well do – turnout in the 18-24 cohort rose by nearly 20 per cent.

But there is also evidence to the contrary. Millennial participation in 2015 still fell below the national average. And recent elections in other wealthy Western countries – such as Switzerland, England, the United States, France and Germany – reveal similar, disproportionately low totals.

Voting-behaviour experts note that millennials are more apt to expect to be wooed by politicians, whom they are less likely to believe, than previous generations did.

An on-demand, free-delivery and bespoke world craves individualized attention and that ever-elusive quality, authenticity. It's a different kind of electorate: highly educated, secular, culturally diverse, technologically savvy.

None of the preceding is meant to suggest a definitive generational schism, but there can be little doubt the ground is shifting at the same time as Canada's federal political leaders are getting younger.

Story continues below advertisement

It may well take a younger generation of politicians to get this important cohort more engaged in the political process. If they succeed, those voters could end up reshaping their country.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to