4:15 PM Comment0 Comments

With this week's election results now firmly in the minds of Canadians we've begun the obligatory period of discussion about the consequences. It seems the only thing we can agree on is that there has been a big change in the Canadian political landscape. Some people are pointing to the "americanization" of Canadian politics as the main driver of this change. This idea assumes that some outside force has imposed American standards of politics on Canadians; however, the true source of this change is much less dubious and potentially more grim. This election has emphasized the americanization of the Canadian people, not of our politics. Specifically, it marks the americanization of Canada's elders revealing a vast and problematic generational split between our youth and our seniors.

As we move through 4 years of conservative majority, we can expect that Canada will come to look more conservative. We can expect that our politics will come to look more American. Consecutive conservative majorities may well lead to a diminished role for the federal government in Canadians' day-to-day lives, which is exactly what our seniors voted for but exactly what youth opposed. What is really going on here is a generational split. En masse baby-boomers voted for a government who would guarantee their pensions but otherwise stay out of their lives. They don't need national childcare, they don't need job security and they don't need interest-rate caps. Seniors seem to just want to be left alone. On the other side, we have a smaller population of youth who are very concerned and opinionated. They have different concerns. Unfortunately, they are not politically active because this long-standing generational split has caused an alienation which is not about to go anywhere.

Throughout consecutive conservative majorities we may see a growing conflict between these two groups, the baby-boomers and youth. As the baby-boomers grow older what we will see is the growth of a populist gerontocracy. As the issues which matter to youth go unheard our country will suffer fundamentally. Some people foolishly say that the youth must now care for the old with our aging population when really we must all care for each other. How can our seniors receive treatment for health problems if students can't go to medical school? How can people afford to take care of sick relatives if they can't afford child-care? Populist appeals to an aging population and a blatant disregard for the needs of Canada's young citizens will end in disaster for all Canadians.

That's not to say elderly voters don't care about youth and youth don't care about the elderly, (youth voted en masse for parties who expressed a strong desire to stimulate our health care system, which should be of primary concern to our aging population but not so much to the healthy youth). Unfortunately, in many cases the issues which affect each group are easily forgotten by the other. What we need is for Canadian's to rise up, not to overthrow a regime, but to make that regime know what our needs are, that regime needs to listen to all of us. It can't be either/or, seniors concerned for their children and grandchildrens future, as well as youth concerned with the health of their grandparents and parents must all make their voices heard to close this generational gap once and for all.


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