How to win the urban voteJune 26, 2017
Once upon a time, a man named Jason Kenney had a bold idea: Why not go for the immigrant vote? After all, immigrants choose Canada for freedom, safety, stability and prosperity – all things Conservatives like. In 2011, thanks in no small part to Kenney’s outreach, the Tories captured 14 new ridings in and near Toronto with immigrant populations over 45 percent.
We know how to win new votes – and how to lose them. We should never stop looking for natural voting blocs. We can bring them in to the fold by running on our values, not away from them. And the next place to find them is in the city.
According to Statistics Canada, the country now has 35 census areas with over 100,000 residents. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver alone are home to over one-third of the country’s entire population. One expert says Millennials are beginning to raise their own children downtown. They may move to the suburbs later, like their parents did – or not. Either way, market-minded candidates can’t ignore them.
There are countless ways to appeal to a young urban voter. Her top priority, according to Abacus Data, is finding a job that will help her stay in the city and pay off her student loans. Who should she trust to get Canadian companies hiring?
She’s worried about rising home prices. If the owner of her rental unit has to pay more, so does she. Who will allow more housing to develop?
She’s fine with paying taxes, if it means strong services. But when she sees how much of her pay goes to the taxman, she’ll be more aware than ever of how it’s being spent. Who will make sure not to waste it?
She uses public transit, and she wishes there were more of it. Should she wait for all three levels of government to kick in some money? Transit is a city responsibility; why doesn’t the province transfer tax points to the cities so they can build faster?
Maybe she’ll want to start her own business someday. She won’t be happy with all the forms she’ll need to fill out, and the fees she’ll need to pay, and how long it’ll take before she gets an answer. She’s used to getting what she wants with the push of a button, at a decent price. Why shouldn’t this be less of a hassle?
She believes in public safety. That’s why she rolls her eyes when people fret about marijuana. She knows it’s no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Who will make sure it’s regulated properly?
She believes in individual freedom. That’s why she supports LGBTQ+ rights, at home and around the world. Who will stand up for their rights everywhere?
She believes in Canadian values. That’s why she welcomes newcomers who want to share in them. Who will make sure they have opportunities to thrive?
When it’s time to vote, she’s looking for a candidate who won’t dismiss her and the people around her. The Liberals in Parliament may be denizens of the cocktail circuit; most voters in Canada’s cities are not. If and when they move to the suburbs, they’ll remember who reached out and who steered clear.
Our cities are full of free marketers-to-be. Let’s go find them.