You Have Our Attention: Youth Political Engagement in Canada

August 21, 2019
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You Have Our Attention: Youth Political Engagement in Canada
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The 2015 federal election saw a stunning surge in youth participation. Turnout increased from the previous election in 2011 by nearly 40% among 18- to 29-year-olds—an unprecedented increase. Was this a turning point— the end of a decades-long slide in youth voter participation? Or was it just a one-off event? Has the youth moment in Canadian politics arrived? Or is it already over? 

In the 2014 Samara Citizens’ Survey, Canadians were asked about the different ways they engage in politics. Before the 2015 federal election, the Samara Centre for Democracy released “Message Not Delivered,” which compared responses across three age groups. 

In time for the 2019 election, we’ve analyzed data from our biennial Citizens’ Survey to again capture a snapshot of youth political engagement in the lead-up to a federal election. 

As before, the data confirm that beyond voting, young people are among the most active participants in Canada’s civic and political life. They talk about politics more than anyone, are present in the formal political sphere, respond through activism, and are leading their communities through civic engagement. Whatever happens at the ballot box, political leaders overlook the passion and engagement of young people at their own peril. 

This report will examine differences across age groups in three areas of democratic participation: communication, formal political participation, and community civic engagement. We also reflect on how youth may participate in the 2019 election.

*This PDF was created in 2019, and may contain inactive links and/or outdated references.

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