Though their constituents, based primarily in the West and the booming suburbs, remain the youngest of the three major federal parties, the Conservatives are seeing their ridings age at a faster rate than those held by the opposition, according to census data released last week.
With an average median age of 40.7 years, Conservative ridings are younger than those represented by Liberal and NDP MPs. The average median age of those ridings is 41.2 years.
However, compared to the last set of census data taken in 2006, Conservative ridings are aging at a faster rate. Those ridings currently held by the Tories (not necessarily held by them in 2006) had an average median age of 39.3 years, meaning the median age has increased by 3.5 per cent. Liberal ridings are 3.2 per cent older than they were five years ago, while the average median age of NDP ridings has increased by 2.9 per cent since 2006.
All else being equal, this means the average median age of NDP ridings could be the lowest of the three parties in another 10 years. Of course, at least two elections will have taken place by then.
The four ridings held by the Bloc Québécois have an average median age of 45.6 years, while Elizabeth May’s riding of Saanich –Gulf Islands has a median age of 49.4 years.
The Conservatives hold the seat that has seen the largest increase in median age over the last five years. The Northern Ontario riding of Kenora had its median age rise to 39.3 from 34.9, an increase of almost 13 per cent. They also hold the oldest riding. Nanaimo –Alberni, represented by James Lunney, 60, has a median age of 50.1 years.
Of the 10 fastest aging ridings in the country, the Conservatives hold seven. Four of them are in Atlantic Canada, while the other three are in Ontario. The New Democrats have two of the fastest aging ridings in Canada, while the Liberals hold one (these are also in Ontario and the Atlantic region).
But while the Tories represent some of the oldest ridings in the country, they also hold the youngest: Leona Aglukkaq, 44, represents the sprawling Nunavut riding, median age 24.1 years.
The New Democrats represent the riding with the greatest drop in median age since 2006. Olivia Chow’s seat of Trinity –Spadina now has a median age of 33.3 years, down almost 5 per cent from 2006 when the median age was 34.9 years.
Of the 10 ridings where the median age is dropping at the fastest rate, the Conservatives hold six (all of them in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, or Alberta) while the three the New Democrats represent are all in cities: Halifax, Toronto, and Montreal. The Liberals hold one, also in Montreal.
But the people Canadians send to Ottawa tend to be much older. While the median age of Canadians is 40.6 years, the average age of a member of Parliament is 50.8 years.
New Democratic MPs are the youngest, at 47.3 years, making them a little more than six years older than their constituents. Conservative MPs, at an average age of 52.2 years, are 11.5 years older than the average median age of their ridings. The largest age gap exists between Liberal MPs and their constituents: at 54.7 years old, they are 13.5 years older.
Canada is getting older and an aging population has economic and social – but also political – repercussions. Though the Tories and NDP are neck-and-neck in recent polls, the Conservatives are ahead by a wide margin among the country’s oldest voters, a growing demographic. These voters also happen to be the most likely Canadians to turnout to the voting booths on election day.
Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at ThreeHundredEight.com