Max Valiquette must love a challenge. The 50-year-old marketer and branding expert, who founded a youth-oriented market research company called Youthography, just joined Justin Trudeau’s office as his new executive director of communications. His job? Turn around the party’s increasingly desperate situation with younger voters.

The scale of that challenge was laid bare — again — in a recent poll from Abacus Data that had the Trudeau Liberals a staggering 19 points behind Pierre Poilievre’s Conservative Party of Canada. As Bruce Anderson, veteran pollster and former Abacus Data chair, said: “I don't know that I've seen more challenging numbers for an incumbent in Canada since 1993.”

Some of this, to be sure, is a reflection of the broader global environment. David Coletto, chair of Abacus, describes this as “inflationitis,” a disease that has already felled the New Zealand Labour Party and threatens the reigns of the Tory government in the U.K. and even François Legault’s CAQ in Quebec. Periods of rising inflation are rarely good for incumbent governments. That’s especially true when they’ve been in power as long as Trudeau’s Liberals.

But there’s also something else going on here that’s unique to Canada. The Abacus poll has the Liberals trailing Poilievre’s CPC by 21 points among voters 30 to 44 years old, and 12 points behind voters aged 18 to 29. For a party whose surge to power in 2015 was animated by enthusiastic younger voters, this is a stunning turn of events. Ironically, the Trudeau Liberals are now most popular among baby boomers and older Canadians.

Believe it or not, it actually gets worse for Trudeau’s team. When asked who they trusted more to make childcare more affordable, respondents put the Liberals two points behind the CPC — and this is after a landmark childcare deal already reducing costs for parents by hundreds and even thousands of dollars a month. When asked who they trusted to take action to deal with climate change, the party that has invested so much time and political treasure on that file is only three points ahead of Poilievre and his “What, me worry?” approach to climate change.

Young people are the ones who benefit disproportionately from the government’s multibillion-dollar childcare program, and they’re the ones who should be most invested in climate change and the pursuit of solutions. So why doesn’t anything the Liberals do resonate with them? Why don’t they care much about the facts here?

As James Carville might say: it's the housing market, stupid.

The Trudeau Liberals have finally found religion on the importance of this issue, and Sean Fraser, minister of housing, infrastructure and communities, has demonstrated that you can move political mountains when you’re willing to weaponize the power of the federal chequebook. But for all the new housing he’s been announcing, it will still take years before it shows in the data — and the prices people are paying. The recent fall economic update, which gave the government an opportunity to demonstrate its sense of urgency, left most housing advocates conspicuously underwhelmed.

As housing expert and economist Mike Moffatt noted, the federal government is “leaving housing demand from population growth untouched, making minor tweaks that won't go into effect until 2025, refusing to make transformative changes. I am deeply, deeply worried about the mess we're going to be in next year."

In 2015, young voters propelled Justin Trudeau to power. But if current polls hold, they'll be the ones who sweep him out of it. Can his new communications guru do anything to turn the tide?

Poilievre, meanwhile, just keeps hammering the government on this issue. In a 15-minute video he released on Twitter, Poilievre guides viewers through a series of charts, old media stories and even some decidedly wonkish infographics about monetary policy to build a case for laying all the blame at Trudeau’s feet.

I can pick plenty of holes in that video (and I did) that involve Poilievre’s misuse of the data or misrepresentation of the economic realities behind it. But if you’re a young person trying to find housing right now, that doesn’t do you any good — and it doesn’t change the most essential aspect of his argument. Housing is far more expensive today than it was in 2015, and the situation is much more dire and desperate for people who don’t already own a home. As a government, especially after eight years in power, you have to take some measure of responsibility for those outcomes.

That’s what Valiquette and the rest of the Liberal team are up against right now. They’re also up against the growing sense among Canadians that change of some sort is required. Indeed, the Abacus poll showed that 85 per cent of Canadians think we need a new government. In that sort of political environment, the Liberals could be making the most intellectually impressive arguments — they’re not, to be clear — and I’m not sure it would matter all that much. When so many Canadians have tuned out the Liberal government’s communicator-in-chief, there’s not much he or anyone else can say to change their minds.

Maybe that means it’s time for Trudeau to go. Maybe it means bringing in new star talent like Mark Carney and establishing a clear line of succession for him as the next leader. Or maybe it means that after rescuing the Liberal Party of Canada from political oblivion, Trudeau will end up returning it there once he’s done. There’s a certain symmetry there, if nothing else — especially if it’s young voters who ultimately end up sealing his fate.

Keep reading

Well right off the bat, the critical thinking skills of humans doesn’t work very well until the frontal lobe becomes fully mature, around 25 years of age. Which means they are the ripest group for propagandizing because they believe every word. And the Right are very good at a stead diet of talking points, innuendo, misinformation and anger farming,

Agreed, since they live on social media and have extremely limited attention spans they are ripe recipients of any garbage put before them. Was reading about the tsunami of climate disinformation of FB, X and Tok Tok and you quickly understand their susceptibility. Unfortunately, this also makes "mature" adults of all stripes equally as susceptible. Then add in the National Post, Epoch Times, talk radio and its a toxic stew out there that far too many have fully bought into.

What, and then they start working? Old people elected Trump.

"Or maybe it means that after rescuing the Liberal Party of Canada from political oblivion, Trudeau will end up returning it there once he’s done."

Trudeau has overstayed his welcome. Poilievre will prove as popular as old fish and rotten eggs. The Liberals will spend the next term in the penalty box.

Trudeau is the guy who declared a climate emergency one day and approved the TMX pipeline expansion the next.
Totally incoherent policy.

Trudeau is the guy who proclaimed that “There is no relationship more important to me – and to Canada – than the one with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit." And later mocked indigenous protestors.

"Opposition lashes out at ‘arrogant’ Trudeau after he thanks First Nations protesters for donations" (National Post, 2019)
"Trudeau apologized after a video surfaced of him making a snide remark to protester Lana Goldberg after she unfurled a banner in front of the prime minister as he addressed a $1,500-a-ticket fundraiser in Toronto.
"'Prime Minister Trudeau, people at Grassy Narrows are suffering from mercury poisoning,' she said.
"As she was dragged out, the prime minister said, 'Thank you very much for your donation tonight. I really appreciate it,' drawing applause and laughter from the audience."
Snide remarks unbecoming of Canada's prime minister. Out of touch and devoid of feeling.

To the outrage of indigenous leaders, the Trudeau Liberals appealed a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling "ordering Ottawa to pay billions of dollars in compensation to First Nations children and their families separated by a chronically underfunded child-welfare system."
"Trudeau government appeals ruling on compensation to First Nations children" (CP, 2019)

You might not like Poilievre, but you know what he stands for.
You won't catch Poilievre paying lip service to climate change. No, he'll greenlight the pipeline and say "What climate change?"
Unashamedly regressive and proud of it.
What you see is what you get.

Canadians are heartily sick of Trudeau, and will accept a far worse candidate just to be rid of him. Legions of Liberal voters will stay home.

While fossil-fuel fanatics curse Trudeau as Enemy #1, the O&G industry continues to reap record profits from record production. Trudeau has done nothing to impair industry output, profits, or emissions, for that matter.

A vote for the Liberals or Conservatives is a vote for Big Oil, petro-politics, democratic erosion, climate disaster, and science denial.
On top of that, a vote for the Liberals is a vote for broken promises and betrayal.
The new denialism versus the old. Some choice.

I think a lot of people don't, in fact, know what he stands for. I mean, they know he stands for angry, but he tends to avoid talking about what he will actually DO in office other than wave a magic wand of not-being-Trudeau.

Nonetheless Geoffrey, the only f***ing one we HAVE.

This isn't China or Russia.
Almost HALF of our voting public identify as conservatives.
In fact, pan out to the whole world: New Zealand just succumbed; even Germany is teetering, you saw the chainsaw guy WIN, etc. etc. this is the reality.
Democracy IS still the framework we're TRYING to work within, for NOW so whether or not you hate (algorithm induced or otherwise) Justin Trudeau as a person/personality is the bloody LEAST of it.
Where is the all-important adult perspective ever in all this?!

The adult perspective is that Trudeau is, and has been, a disaster for the climate. Younger climate activists know this. Why vote for a party committed to climate apocalypse? It's not a two-party state (not that the NDP are much better and the Green Party has had its challenges). We need some party willing to give young people a reason to vote - not just a party that's less bad than the worst one.

No, look around, look at the math, look at this big, fractious country peopled by a lot of wealthy, rabid, tribal (including religion and look how far they're willing to go to keep their alternate reality salient, they supported Trump) and utterly unscrupulous conservatives for whom the ends justify the means. In this dangerous age of "social media" THEY are the ones who not only wouldn't hesitate to use the "deep fake" feature, they invented it!
What that means is that we have a BINARY political situation if there ever was one, when one side is so BAD that they actively spread misinformation/disinformation, a.k.a. outright lying. This is unprecedented in our political experience as a democracy so our only real hope lies in what's happening right now with the NDP supporting the Liberals to keep the dangerous conservatives out of power.
So that "adult perspective" is recognizing the current political reality which is that for all intents and purposes, Canadians and Americans ARE now living in a "two party state." Because only one party lies with impunity and on top of that doesn't take climate change seriously and it's bloody well NOT the Liberals. The NDP aren't the only ones who signed onto that confidence and supply agreement after all and the Liberals probably initiated it, so to say that they are a party "devoted to climate apocalypse" is simply absurd. The environment minister is a founder of Greenpeace for gawd's sake and nothing significant can be done about climate change without federal power. You see what the conservative provinces are doing right now, trying to undermine it like the Republican American states.
So slagging the Liberals implies that you don't actually take climate change seriously either, and is close enough to standard right wing propaganda to create suspicion of whose "side" you're on.

Max mentions blunt-talker James Carville, so a guy fond of the truth (there IS a caveat in that he happens to be married to a Republican mind you.)
But on Bill Maher last Friday, he also opined that "kids today are stupid," i.e. "not knowing enough to come in out of the rain" stupid. And "kids" is the key word here. Not just young people but "kids." After all, this IS the generation that coined the word "adulting" as an optional activity at a time when politics has never been a more "adult" i.e. more important and consequential activity.
This when THEY are the ones who are going to be living on a "boiling" planet.
Douglas Coupland says that the internet is like their "religion;" the "world-wide web" that they feel understandably proprietary about; it's uniquely their unique language, a compulsion of each new generation. At least it makes more sense than actual religion, but unfortunately still speaks to a dangerously alternate reality in the same way.
All the protests on the war in Gaza are a reflection of all this because they imagine their personal power to be far more than it is, as they do on social media, partly because when they get together to protest with their carefully crafted signs and tears it's like Americans after all the mass shootings, an emotional ritual of solidarity so satisfying that it completely obfuscates the root cause(s) which are usually very adult and very political.
Ironically, this same underlying childishness informs the whole Gaza mess/horror because two sort of different religions are at the heart of it, so the narcissism of small differences goes beyond the usual political intransigence to the sheer barbarism of war.
Sam Harris sums up the Israeli's understandable hatred when he writes "there's no living with jihadists" and indeed, only the death cult that is Islam brings suicide bombing into the mix. But the Israelis are indeed the occupiers, sanctioned by THEIR religious beliefs that THEIR Jewish "god" dictated their right to live there!
However, no one is protesting religious delusion despite it being something the Israelis and Palestines very much have in common AND despite the oft-proven observation that only religion makes good people do bad things.
So in other words the very essence of complexity which requires knowledge, historical context and critical thinking, all of which take time and education, not "snapchat or tik-tok."

So I do think the inflation + housing double whammy is an important part of why Trudeau is unpopular, along with various other governments around the world. Now, the inflation isn't Trudeau's fault, and the housing . . . kind of is, but the thing is that to have solved the housing, a government would have to be fairly radical, to have stepped fairly thoroughly to the left of the Overton Window our media and expert consensus establishes as OK to say or do. Specifically, it would have had to say "This situation requires quite intrusive regulation of markets and a lot of direct government action backed by a lot of money." And nobody's allowed to say that, so although I do kind of blame Trudeau for not doing it, pretty much nobody else around the world did either, and Poilievre CERTAINLY wouldn't, so. But whether he's to blame or not, they are bad things and they happened on his watch so of course he's wearing them.

But I think beyond that there's also a gradual erosion caused by a shift in the media, of two kinds. In the past, there was mostly just one kind of media, the established platform kind--newspapers whether in print or online, television, like that. Then there started to be the new media, from Usenet in the old days to blogs to chat to "social media" platforms. Both of these have undergone shifts in the past 20 years or so. The first kind has not gone away, and still provides a lot of the basis for the second kind. But where it used to be that the Canadian established media was centrist, treating both Liberals and Conservatives as legitimate but to an extent leaning Liberal, more recently it has come to be owned almost entirely by the right, and its coverage has gradually shifted to reflect this, so that now it treats the Liberals almost as if they were the NDP--as not entirely legitimate compared to Conservatism. Where once the media arranged photos to make Robert Stanfield look bad, now they frame narratives to make Trudeau look bad.

The second kind of media has changed in that it started relatively anarchic, expressing mostly the opinions of ordinary folks yacking about whatever they thought, but has shifted to be increasingly shaped by money, whether it's algorithms at Facebook or fake "grassroots" content created and promoted by billionaires' think tanks and PR firms to craft and pull people into social media "echo chamber" spaces. And that money is majority right wing as well. So in different ways, both the established media and "social media" have over the last years shifted to the right, to the point where Liberals have begun to find themselves in the position the NDP was always in--swimming against the tide to try to get their message out. But they're so used to being the establishment that they are having trouble assimilating this, which makes it all the harder to combat it. The NDP at least knows the establishment is out to get them, so they do their meagre best to get around the problem, but it's hard for Liberals to wrap their heads around the idea that they could be in that boat. And really, with how innocuous and minimalist the Liberal ideology is, it's hard to fathom the entitlement it takes for billionaires to insist even that little interference with their profits is unacceptable no matter what needs are served . . . but here we are. Capitalists are ascendant and they want it all, and so they are now at the point of trying to tear down even parties like the Liberals who are only saying "Look, how about just 'almost all' so we can keep society running a little?"

Maybe time for Liberals to consider going a bit more radical. Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.