Canadian millennials have little confidence in politicians, even less than American counterparts



Ottawa, ON—Canadian millennials have little confidence in politicians and are even more jaded than their American counterparts are about whether they care about young people’s views or are interested in taking action on youth priorities, according to a new pioneering comparative survey.

The Canadian data released today also show the Conservative Party has the biggest brand problem among millennials in Canada, who were asked a series of questions about how the political parties align with their priorities and the qualities of politicians in each political party.

“We often think Canadians are more optimistic about politics compared to our American friends, but these results show Canadian politicians have a lot of work to do to gain the trust and respect of millennials,” said Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute.

“With the federal election right around the corner, the Conservatives have the most work to do in Canada to improve their image among millennials. This should be cause for concern for them.”

The survey was conducted as part of a transatlantic research project, known as the Millennial Dialogue Project, of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), based in Brussels, and Washington, DC-based Global Progress.

FEPS and Global Progress partnered with the Broadbent Institute in Canada and the Center for American Progress in the U.S.; both groups are presenting the results at the Make Progress National Summit, an annual event in Washington, DC, for young progressive leaders focused on progressive policy and political change.

Key findings include:

  • 38% of Canadian millennials said most politicians want the best possible future for young people compared to 42% in the U.S;
  • 32% of Canadian millennials said the views of young political are greatly valued by most politicians, 37% in the U.S said so;
  • 70% of Canadian millennials said the views of young people are largely ignored by most politicians, in the U.S, 68% agreed;
  • 28% of Canadian millennials felt confident that they and their peers could make themselves heard, compared to 32% in the U.S;
  • 26% of Canadian millennials said most politicians are more concerned with young people than older people, compared to 31% in the U.S.;
  • In Canada, among the three main political parties, the Conservatives scored the worst in four of the five areas probed: having the wrong ideas to improve life in Canada (29% compared to 15% for the Liberals and 8% for the NDP); understanding young people (11% compared to 23% for the Liberals and 26% for the NDP); being open and transparent (14% compared to 17% for the NDP and 19% for the Liberals; and having the right ideas for Canada (17% compared to 18% for the NDP and 22% for the Liberals);
  • Among the three main political parties, the NDP had the highest score for six out of the top eight most important qualities of politicians in a political party (and tied the Liberals for first in the seventh) while the Conservative ranked third in seven of the eight;
  • Healthcare, education and job creation topped priority areas for public spending; defence, foreign aid and international development, and culture, media and sport were the lowest priority areas.
  • The top two factors that might encourage an interest in voting were if young people knew more about politics and if they trusted politicians more.

 “This should be a wake-up call – and an opportunity – for political parties with the fall federal election campaign coming to work to gain the confidence of millennials. The Conservatives, in particular, have a steep hill to climb,” added Smith.

Audiencenet Ltd., an accredited research agency based in London, England, conducted the polling for the pioneering international project, launched by FEPS and Global Progress to engage with and better understand the priorities and values of young people aged 15 to 34.

In Canada, 1,634 Canadians ages 15 to 34 participated on the online attitudinal survey, conducted between March 17 and 24, 2015. The sample was recruited to be nationally representative of Canadian millennials in terms of age, geographical region, household income and education attainment levels. In the U.S., the survey of 1,617 Americans aged 15 to 34 was conducted between May 7 and 21, 2015. The margins of error on an equivalent random sample telephone survey would be plus/minus 3%, 19 times out of 20.

The results of the survey, along with accompanying qualitative data drawn from interviews of a smaller group of millennials, are available online at


For more information, please contact Sarah Schmidt, Director of Communications, the Broadbent Institute, sschmidt[at]broadbentinstitute[dot]ca or 613-857-2814.