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 examines 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.

The 360+ Series

In March 2019, the Samara Centre for Democracy released the 2019 Democracy 360, our biennial report card on how Canadians communicate, participate, and lead in politics. The Democracy 360 is partly based on data from the 2019 Samara Citizens’ Survey, conducted in English and French between January 16 and February 6, 2019, using an online sample of 4,054 Canadian residents over 18 years of age. Drawing from that survey, this report is one of several short data stories on particular issues and themes in Canadian politics.

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