Conservatives Will Never Win Another Majority
April 1st, 2020 | JH
It’s unlikely that the Conservatives will ever win a majority again. There are too many factors working against them culturally, demographically, geographically and now most importantly, economically.
Let’s ignore all the other factors for now and focus on the big problem that has now, after decades of warnings, finally arrived.
The Baby Boomers.
The Baby Boom was the cohort of children born between 1946 and 1967. The peak year for births during this time was 1959. This makes the peak of the Baby Boomers 61 years old. In the early 1970s this boom ended and, with cheap and normalized contraceptives as well as liberalizing abortion laws, the fertility rate in Canada fell below the replacement rate. In other words, by the early '70s Canadians stopped having enough children to maintain a stable population. Without immigration we would, eventually, start shrinking.
Fast forward to today and our population pyramid looks inverted. There are more old people in Canada than young, and there are two main factors that matter with this dynamic. Old people vote and they don’t have enough money to retire.
32% of Canadians aged 45-64 have zero dollars saved. Zero… as in absolutely nothing. Of the remaining 68% of those people in the 45-64 category,19% have less than fifty thousand dollars saved. This is in a country with more personal debt than has ever been recorded in our history. You want to know why conservative principles of thrift, frugality, balanced budgets and living within your means don’t resonate with voters? This is why.
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This is also why the Conservative Party of Canada can’t get elected anymore.
But wait… Harper won three elections!
Yes, back in 2006, 2008 and lastly 2011. The first was the smallest minority in Canadian history. After two and a half years of pretty decent federal management, Harper was rewarded with a tepid improvement over that showing with a couple of dozen more seats. In 2011, Harper won thanks to Jack Layton’s Orange Crush. Yes, Harper increased the vote share, but only after years of a spending orgy and an Ontario fear of Bob Rae’s NDP allowed for this anomalous victory. In hindsight,it wasn’t a real win.
Now times have changed. We’re in a woke period that makes Harper-style wins impossible, but more importantly, the Baby Boomers that were voting in 2011 had a peak age of 52. Today they are 61 and the majority of them don’t have enough savings to even begin contemplating retirement. Catastrophic financial illiteracy, no savings and creeping quickly into senior citizenry… coupled with a culture that encourages everyone to vote, what do you end up with?
Not a Conservative government. Certainly not a “conservative” government. In the next election campaign, the leader of the CPC is going to have to drop any pretense of fiscal conservatism if they stand a shot at winning even a minority government. People simply won’t vote for a party that doesn’t give them everything they want. Especially when they know deep down that poverty is staring into their old face.
Much ink has been spilled about how Harper lost in 2015 because he was too strident on Muslim issues like hijab wearing at citizenship ceremonies or creating an RCMP “barbaric practices” hotline. In 2019, Andrew Scheer wasn’t sufficiently woke enough regarding gays and abortion. Less ink has been dedicated to other theories such as…
Harper lost in 2015 because he raised the age of Old Age Security age from 65 to 67. Also, no more home delivery of mail services. Old people raged against the scaling back of their free money and their front door mailbox delivery to receive it in.
Scheer offered nothing explicitly to seniors in order to buy their vote back. This may have been “conservative”, but it wasn’t successful politicking.
The entitlements for seniors are set to grow enormously over the coming years. OAS cheques alone are going to rise from a cost of $48 billion a year in 2015 to $108 billion a year by 2030. We don’t have the money to afford OAS today…we’re running massive deficits just to keep that status quo going. The increased demands of healthcare haven’t even been included in this equation and healthcare is already the biggest cost for government right now. With a recession looming on top of all this, the government may be tempted to do the right thing and reel in spending, but they won’t… because this is a democracy.
When the poverty rate for seniors begins to inch upwards and the CBC makes daily reports about the plight of one old timer after another living in their own filth because they don’t have any money,watch how our elections will be affected.
"The entitlements for seniors are set to grow enormously over the coming years."
Old people vote. When poverty stares in the face of people no longer able to work, you can be assured that they will dutifully vote for their interests. All the big issues of elections past… bilingualism, free trade, taxes, climate change…none of it will matter. The new issue will be,”I need my money” and the party that promises it will be the party in power.
For Conservatives, this means that they drop yet another plank of conservatism, this time fiscal conservatism… or else be relegated to the opposition benches forever. The worse and greater outcome, however, is that the Conservatives have given up so much of anything that we typically think of as being conservative, that this final straw will render them completely and explicitly hollowed out as an ideological vehicle. For those of us right-wingers that have been following events over the past fifty years, this doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it does mark the end of an establishment and a paradigm.
The choice is either completely gut the party ideologically which will allow for some token wins. Then the party can take a stab at managing the decline… with minority wins only of course. Or take a principled stand and lose for the next twenty-five years until a new phase of post-Baby Boom Canada emerges.
Either way, the Conservative Party is over.
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