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Supriya Dwivedi

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Generation Y: Politically Engaged and Enraged

Posted: 12/05/2012 8:24 am

It would seem as though my generation, colloquially referred to as millennials or Generation Y, seem to be greatly feared by politicians, specifically politicians who are right of centre.

Conservative politicians are terrified of millennials, and for good reason. Paul Beck, a professor at Ohio State University, theorized that if the Republican Party was not careful, they risked losing the entire generation of millennial voters. For anyone who followed the American election, this should come as no surprise.

The GOP shot themselves in the foot by taking far right stances on issues that millennials are fed up with defending. A woman's right to choose, access to contraception, healthcare as a basic right, and marriage equality are all issues that my generation sees as a given.

Now it seems this mindset has transferred north of the 49th parallel. What does this mean? Well, for one, it should make the Harper Government think twice about having so many anti-choice MPs and ministers at the forefront of their administration. Yes, it's true Mark Warawa, Stephen Woodworth and Brad Trost may be backbenchers in the Tory caucus, however, Rob Nicholson, Vic Toews, Peter Van Loan, Jason Kenney, Gerry Ritz, Ed Fast, Lynne Yelich, and Gary Goodyear, all of whom define themselves as pro-life, can hardly be considered as warming the pine.

Couple that with Rona Ambrose, Julian Fantino, Peter Penashue, Gail Shea, Diane Ablonczy and Alice Wong, additional ministers who all voted in favour of Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312 -- a.k.a. the thinly veiled attempt to shove the abortion debate down the Canadian people's throat -- and you seem to have a more troubling pattern.

Thankfully, a recent survey conducted by Forum Research, shows that a majority of Canadians are completely fine with the status quo of abortion in Canada, with younger Canadians being more likely to believe this: "Federal NDP supporters, and to a lesser extent Liberal Supporters, as well as younger Canadians, those with higher annual household incomes, British Columbians and Quebeckers were more likely to believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances."

Additionally, politicians need to understand that attacking the LGBT community is a surefire way to lose the millennial vote. Conservative MP Rob Anders drew ire from my generation as he vehemently and vociferously opposed Bill C-279, a private member's bill that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression as grounds for discrimination.

According to Anders, this bill has potentially devastating consequences, as it would be tantamount to a pedophilic and predatory free-for-all in public washrooms, thereby theoretically endangering helpless women and children. Of course, to my generation, this bill is merely much-needed legislation to help combat discrimination faced by the transgendered community. Likewise, the pushback from parents and Progressive Conservatives in Ontario regarding a Catholic child's God given right to torment gay children was seen as something that would be best fit for a fable on how not to be.

Next, I would dial down the Conservative Party rhetoric on all those refugees simply taking advantage of good ol' Canuck hospitality. You would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of 18-30 year olds who think that denying chemotherapy to a man fleeing religious persecution would be considered as some sort of fiscal necessity. Then again, you would also be hard pressed to find a doctor, or even a conservative commentator who would agree with that.

In short, the right of centre movement risks losing this entire generation of voters if it does not compromise on social issues that my cohort considers basic human rights. Examples abound, don't take my word for it, simply ask Danielle Smith or Mitt Romney how their campaign worked out for them.

Millennials are a politically engaged generation. Constantly connected to Twitter and updating our newsfeeds, we know what is important to us, and what isn't. We like the environment, don't think the love between two men is any different than the love between a man and woman, respect the fact that women should have dominion over their own bodies, and could care less about what restroom someone uses. Perhaps it's about time politicians listened, and decided to adapt to the world around them, instead of pushing their same old tired agenda. The sooner politicians realize that, the sooner we'll vote for them.

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  • Think you know your generation?

    The Huffington Post Canada and Abacus Data surveyed 1,004 Canadian millennials from across the country on a variety of issues. Here's what we found:

  • Biggest challenges?

    We asked 1,004 Canadian millennials to rank the biggest challenges facing their generation.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    2% rank the decriminalization of marijuana as No. 1 or 2.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    5% of millennials rank internet regulation and online privacy as one of their top two issues.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    7% rank bullying as the first or second biggest challenge.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    8% of millennials rank retirement security No. 1 or 2.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    11% of millennials say access to quality health care is one of the generation's top two challenges

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    20% of millennials rank pollution and environmental protection as No. 1 or 2 of the biggest challenges faced by this generation.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    20% say affordable housing is in the top two.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    24% of millennials peg the cost of education as their first or second choice for the generation's biggest challenge.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    27% say the cost of food, gas and consumer goods are in the top two.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    32% of millennials chose "student debt and personal debt" as the first or second biggest challenge.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    We asked 1,004 millennials between the ages of 18-30 what it takes to be a good Canadian citizen.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    15% of millennials say it takes being active in political parties...

  • What defines a good citizen?

    28% of millennials say donating money to charity makes a good citizen..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    35% of millennials say that being active in social organizations is important to citizenship..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    63% of millennials say being informed about current events is important..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    64% of millennials say being able to fluently speak one official language is important..

  • What defines a good citizen?

    74% of millennials say a good citizen is someone who always votes in elections.

  • What defines a good citizen?

    81% of millennials say good citizens honestly pay their taxes.

  • What's the biggest challenge facing your generation?

    43% of millennials rank the availability of quality jobs as their first or second choice.

  • Health Challenges

    We asked 1,004 Canadian millennials what were their generation's biggest health challenges

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    3% say pollution

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    4% say sexually transmitted infections

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    7% say disease

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    11% say poor nutrition

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    16% say obesity

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    17% say addiction

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    19% say mental health

  • Biggest health challenge facing your generation?

    26% say lack of physical activity

  • Relationship status

    Some views from 1,004 Canadian millennials on marriage and family..

  • Relationship status

    18% of millennials are in a common law relationship

  • Relationship status

    66% of millennials are single

  • Relationship status

    15% of millennials are married

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    63% of unmarried millennials say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 24% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    65% of <strong>unmarried women</strong> say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 22% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Do you ever want to get married?

    61% of <strong>unmarried men</strong> say <strong>yes</strong> 13% say <strong>no</strong> 26% say they are <strong>unsure</strong>

  • Is marriage an outdated institution?

    33% agree 67% disagree

  • Do you have children?

    12% of millennials surveyed have children 88% do not

  • Do you want to have children at some point?

    64% of millennials say yes 12% say no 24% are unsure

  • More On Millennials

    Huffington Post Canada's series on millennials, Asking Y. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/news/generation-y" target=blank>Visit it here</a>.

-- Abacus Data has focused research on the Canadian Millennial. Read more here.

What do you think about this story? Join the conversation below or tweet us @HuffPostCanada with the #AskingY tag. We may feature your comments in an upcoming post. You can also check out our Tumblr, or our dedicated page for more from the Asking Y series.
 

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