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A voter leaves a polling station in St. Laurent, Que., on Oct. 14, 2008l (ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images)
A voter leaves a polling station in St. Laurent, Que., on Oct. 14, 2008l (ROGERIO BARBOSA/AFP/Getty Images)

Crunching Numbers

How Parliament would look if only youth voted Add to ...

Canada's youth would elect a Liberal minority government, with a substantial increase in representation for the New Democrats, Bloc Québécois, and Greens, according to projections based on recent polls of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24. The Conservative Party would be severely reduced, virtually wiped out east of Manitoba.

An analysis of EKOS polling conducted between July 7 and Sept. 28 suggests the Liberal Party would have the national support of 23.9 per cent of young Canadians and would win 104 seats if only those between the ages of 18 and 24 voted. While that be would be a dramatic increase over the 76 seats the party currently holds in the House of Commons, it would be well below the 155 needed to form a majority government.

The Liberals lead among young Canadians in British Columbia and Ontario, where the party would earn 27.7 and 31.8 per cent support, respectively. The party would even win a seat in the Edmonton area and elect 58 MPs in Ontario.

The Bloc Québécois would form the Official Opposition with 60 seats, won with 13.5 per cent support nationally and 39.2 per cent support in Quebec. They would face little opposition in the province, with the Liberals at 19.4 per cent, the Greens at 16.3 per cent and the Conservatives well behind with only 11 per cent support. It would be enough, however, for the Tories to hold on to Maxime Bernier's seat in the Beauce.

The New Democrats have the support of 18.4 per cent of young Canadians, which would give them a total of 53 seats. The party would elect three MPs in Alberta, where they have the support of 23.1 per cent of the province's youth. The NDP would also keep their Outremont riding in Montreal and win 12 seats in the Prairies, where the party leads with 31.6 per cent support.

The Conservative Party would be decimated, reduced to only 46 seats and 18.8 per cent support nationally. They would maintain only 20 per cent support in Ontario and elect just one MP in the province, while they would be wiped out in Atlantic Canada and place third in British Columbia with 23.1 per cent support.

With Canada's youth seemingly uninspired by the country's two main parties, many throw their support to the Greens. With 22 per cent, the Green Party is the second most popular choice among those aged 18 to 24, who would elect 43 Green MPs to the House of Commons. Most of these would be from Ontario, where the Greens would win 29 seats outside of Toronto and in the southwestern region of the province. The party would also perform well in Atlantic Canada, securing seven seats in New Brunswick and three in Nova Scotia.

But according to Elections Canada, only 37 per cent of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 24 exercised their democratic duty during the 2008 federal election, compared to 59 per cent among all age groups. This lack of political engagement of Canada's youth makes it far more difficult for a party like the Greens to make any headway, and contrasts sharply with the 68 per cent of Canadians over the age of 65 who voted in the last election.

Based solely on the support of Canada's most elderly citizens, the Conservative Party would be swept to a huge majority with 192 seats and 44 per cent of the vote, with support levels topping 50 per cent in the western provinces and Atlantic Canada. The Liberals would win 106 seats and 34 per cent of the vote with strong performances in Quebec and Ontario.

However, the New Democrats and Greens would not elect any MPs and would both be below the 10 per cent mark in national support. The Bloc Québécois would be reduced to only nine seats scattered throughout Quebec, where the Liberals would win 55 seats and the Conservatives ten.

The political landscape would radically change if the Canada's youth voted in similar proportions to the rest of the population. Getting them to vote now is the greatest challenge facing smaller parties, since it's in no way guaranteed young Canadians will feel the same way they do today when they begin to vote in greater numbers over the next decade.

Éric Grenier writes about politics and polls at ThreeHundredEight.com

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