Trudeau Calls Election 2019: How Each Party Plans to Woo the Key Older Vote

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau arrive at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept.11, 2019. Trudeau is to meet with Gov.Gen. Julie Payette and ask her to dissolve parliament which will trigger a federal election.

With Election 2019 campaign officially underway, the parties will begin competing for your vote. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Justin Tang)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Governor General Julie Payette today, requesting that she dissolve parliament and, on the Queen’s behalf, call a general election.

There’s something wonderfully old-fashioned about this ritual, with its hand-delivered letters, royal proclamations and the issuing writs, all formalities that harken back to the very beginnings of parliamentary democracy.

But while the process may be steeped in tradition, modern election campaigns are anything but. Long before this year’s election was called, the political parties war-rooms have been a beehive of activity, preparing for the launch of the campaign, focus-testing platforms and promises, unleashing their ads and social media programs and gathering and analyzing all the data in an effort to secure the most favourable results on Oct. 21.

As the campaign gets underway, here’s what we know. Most national polls have the Liberals and Conservatives tied at the top, with the NDP lagging badly in third, just ahead of the Greens. The Bloc Québécois and People’s Party of Canada are bringing up the rear.

Our Zoomer Primary pre-election poll (add your voice to the over 6,000 readers who have already voted) tells a slightly different story.

zoomer primary poll
Zoomer Primary Poll (Sept. 11, 2019)

 

Our poll, which measures the sentiment of older voters, shows the Liberals in the lead with 40 per cent. The Conservatives are slowly chipping away at 36 per cent followed by the Greens. The major surprise is the NDP, whose support has cratered to three per cent, barely ahead of the People’s Party of Canada.

The relatively large percentage of undecided voters in the Zoomer Primary poll will undoubtedly decide the election. This group of voters is holding their cards close to their chest, waiting until Election Day before deciding which party to support. These “Undecideds” are the people each party wants to woo over the course of the next six weeks.

Let’s look at possible strategies each party might use to attract older voters who haven’t made up their mind and what they are offering in terms of a “senior friendly” platform. (To see which issues are important to older Canadians, visit the CARP FACES platform.)

Liberals

Campaign Overview: The Liberal campaign will do everything possible to focus the spotlight on their legislative accomplishments over the last four years and direct it away from disasters like SNC-Lavalin, their shoddy environmental record and the massive deficits they’ve run up. In order to reach a majority, they’ll need to siphon support from the Green Party and NDP. Likely, they’ll reach out to these voters suggesting that supporting these other parties will only help the Conservatives chances. Oone big positive for the Liberals is that they have history on their side. Only twice in 42 federal elections have majority governments been voted out of office after serving only one term – in 1878, Liberal PM Alexander Mackenzie’s majority government fell to John A. Macdonald’s Conservatives and, in 1935, Conservative PM R.B. Bennett lost his majority to Liberal Mackenzie King.

Attracting older voters: To win a second majority, Trudeau is going to have to win the support of older voters, which helped put them over the top in the last election. The party will trumpet their senior friendly policies which they’ve put in place in the last four years, including:

  • Increasing GIS and increasing the income threshold for clawbacks
  • Expanding CPP
  • Investing in home care
  • Budgeting more money for housing
  • Creating a National Dementia Strategy
  • Expanding EI to include support for those caring for critically ill loved ones
  • Creating the Canadian Drug Agency to lay out plans for a national drug plan.
  • Instituting automatic enrolment for Canadians over the age of 70 who have not applied for the Canada Pension Plan

Conservatives

Campaign Overview: Besides battering Trudeau with SNC-Lavalin references every chance he gets, leader Andrew Scheer will campaign on his slogan “It’s Time for You to Get Ahead.” He’ll paint Trudeau as a reckless spender who ignores huge deficits and legislates expensive social programs that can only lead to higher taxes. Scheer will try to position himself as a fiscal Conservative and do his best to play down his social Conservative past.

Attracting older voters: Scheer hopes these promises will play well with older voters:

  • Repealing the federal Carbon Tax
  • Removing GST on home heating bills.
  • Reducing tax by cutting expensive social programs
  • Helping seniors living on fixed incomes to cover out-of-pocket costs on medical supplies and specialized dietary needs not covered by provincial plans
  • Setting GIS and OAS increases to reflect the true cost of living for seniors
  • Making it easier for older Canadians to re-enter the workforce by exploring ways to remove barriers in how the CPP and EI premiums are structured
  • Monitoring inflation so that it does not erode seniors’ quality of living
  • Incentivizing Canadians to start building their retirement portfolio at an earlier age, so we don’t outlive our savings
  • Allowing Canadians to make their own financial decisions

The Green Party

Campaign Overview: Leader Elizabeth May enters the campaign with her Green Party in unchartered territory — battling with the NDP for third place. May has established her party as the only reliable alternative to take on climate change and will try her best to highlight how the Liberals have failed on that file. While doing this, she must also convince Canadians that the Greens are more than a single-issue party, and that their vision for the economy, jobs and health care will appeal to a broad swath of voters.

Attracting older voters: In terms of winning over older voters, the Green Party has released a robust seniors platform which includes

  • Protecting pensioners whose companies go bankrupt
  • Developing a National Home Care Policy
  • Creating a national pharmacare plan
  • Fighting elder abuse and seniors isolation
  • Improving mental health and palliative care

NDP

Campaign Overview: Jagmeet Singh finds his party struggling mightily in the polls, especially the Zoomer Primary. A big problem for Singh has been his near invisibility on the national scene. He didn’t win a seat in Parliament until late February and his absence left the party without a voice in Ottawa. Singh must somehow overcome the fact that he’s being squeezed out by both the Liberals and Greens, which have both been cherry-picking the NDP’s bread-and-butter issues.

Attracting older voters:With his party fortunes dwindling, Singh will desperately want to capture older voters sitting on the fence. In response, the NDP has released a very thorough platform that includes:

  • Introducing a National Senior and National Dementia strategy
  • Putting pensioners at the front of the line when a company goes bankrupt
  • Developing national care standards for home care and long-term care
  • Tackling wait times and improving access to primary care across the country
  • Building more affordable housing
  • Creating a national, universal pharmacare plan
  • Strengthening health care to include dental care and vision and hearing tests

People’s Party of Canada

Campaign Overview: Abandoning the Conservatives to form his own party, PPC leader Maxime Bernier will hope to attract the populist/libertarian voters from the right. His overall goal is to cut spending, balance the budget, shrink government, and hand over more power to the provinces, he’ll has a battle on his hands to convince voters that he’s offering more than just reducing immigration.

Attracting older voters: Some early policy offerings may be attractive to older voters, including

  • Abolishing capital gains tax
  • Abolishing federal tax on the first $15,000 earned
  • Cutting federal tax to 15 per cent on income between $15,001 and $100,000
  • Imposing a 25 per cent tax rate on income above $100,000

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