|Sometimes You Have to Know When to Let Go.|
If the Tories want to reclaim a respectable share of the youth vote before the Boomer generation dies off, they're barking up the wrong tree. That goes double for Kellie the Leech and O'Neill the Hustler.
Researchers brought a sobering message to the annual convention of the right-leaning Manning Centre Friday: most voters under 35 aren't connecting with the conservative movement, and if it wants to reach them, more than just messaging needs to change.
...findings presented Friday to attendees of the conference, organized by the right-leaning think tank named after and spearheaded by Reform Party founder Preston Manning, outlined the scope of the gap between the conservative movement and the bulk of this demographic, which currently makes up about a quarter of Canada's population and more than a third of its work force.
Social conservatism? Forget it, that's for baby boomers, explained Heather Scott-Marshall from Mission Research, taking the audience through the findings of a national political values study conducted last October.
While some candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party may think there's support to be gained by championing "Canadian values," that won't fly with this group, her research suggests.
Conservatives often campaign on spending cutbacks and champion the virtues of small, unobtrusive institutions. But that's not where millennial heads are at.
"They still have an appetite for strong government," she said. "They believe that government has a role in stabilizing the economy, in their job and economic futures. They don't want to see government get so small that it's not able to intervene."
Scott-Marshall's research found trust in conservative political parties was low, with respondents reacting much better to the label "progressive" than the label "conservative."
Why? The conservative label makes them think of politics resistant to change, stuck in the past and favouring the rich, she said.
The news wasn't much better for the federal Conservatives when it came to current government policies: a majority of those surveyed favoured taxing the wealthy, legalizing marijuana and implementing a carbon tax.
Show up in the House of Commons and you'll hear Conservatives attacking the government for doing exactly those types of things
Ted Kouri, from the Edmonton-based marketing group Incite, said qualitative research his firm has done with interviews and group sessions in Alberta is consistent with Scott-Marshall's work.
Millennials are looking for positive, constructive messages, he advised, and they're turned off when criticism is offered without an alternative course of action.