I turned 18 in 2015, less than a month before the federal election. I voted for Justin Trudeau, as did pretty much everyone my age. Unlike voting when you’re a bit older, the topics that matter to you aren’t plentiful. Many politicians see young adults as a group that “doesn’t vote” and “doesn’t engage politically.” Thus most policy laid out is catered to people with stable incomes & families. The one issue that I voted based on was Justin Trudeau’s promise to legalize marijuana, which was a policy that got young people to vote for Trudeau in droves.
Only 55% of people aged 18-34 voted in the 2011 federal election, but in 2015 67% of young adults showed up. Many of us voted for Trudeau, giving him a majority government for four years. But since his 2015 legalization promise, Justin Trudeau has done little to help the generation that got him elected. He is losing the youth vote, and this is why.
The Changing Political Landscape
First, from when I first voted in 2015 to now, Donald Trump was elected President. Trump’s election introduced young people from across the world to politics; we watched in horror as marginalized groups and working-class people were exploited and terrorized by their government. Donald Trump’s desire to divide people has turned young people, sometimes teens who are not even eligible to vote yet, into politically-involved members of society.
We may not know about every aspect of how government works or what is even possible. Despite this, young Canadians are currently looking at how the federal government is prioritizing businesses like Loblaws, Air Canada, and Amazon over the working conditions of its employees, the fairness of their wages, or the fact trickle-down economics has been proven ineffective. We see our Prime Minister redistributing billions in Canadian taxpayer dollars to big businesses while thousands of Canadians fall into poverty & hundreds of small businesses shut down.
After five years, young people are starting to notice that our Prime Minister does not care about our future, rather only about protecting the rich and powerful who are exploiting us.
Trudeau’s Betrayal of the Working Class
Then, we get to climate change. A few years ago, I would’ve argued the carbon tax is an effective way to deal with our carbon emissions. However, a carbon tax is completely ineffective if the government gives subsidies to oil & gas companies and we continue to build pipelines at the same time. Canada’s carbon tax is ineffective because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cannot stop his ‘corporate socialism.’ The carbon tax is a way of him saying “capitalism for regular people, socialism for the rich” because even though there’s a rebate at the end of the year, it increases costs for every consumer throughout the year.
This makes it particularly difficult for low-income individuals who can barely afford the necessities as is and are now paying a carbon tax when in reality, businesses should be the ones footing the bill for our carbon emissions, not regular people.
In every decision he makes, we see Justin Trudeau – a man who has never once felt financial hardships – dismiss the needs of working-class people who are the ones keeping society running. We all learned during COVID that the lowest-paid jobs are often the essential ones, yet there has been no real effort to elevate people bearing the brunt of this pandemic. He gave billions of dollars to profitable companies that paid out dividends to rich shareholders while excluding disabled, homeless & grown-up foster children from CERB.
He also failed students by only providing $1200 a month, compared to the $2000 that everyone else got by assuming that students have fewer expenses and thus need less money. This is another example of him being too privileged to understand the effects of his actions. After the WE Scandal, he abandoned the program that WE were supposed to run & left thousands of students out of luck due to his incompetence & mismanagement. That $9 billion he committed to the WE program was never spent on a program to help students, leaving thousands of young people across the country in a difficult situation.
Additionally, while President Donald Trump has paused the collection of student loan payments & interest for all of 2020, our Prime Minister has been collecting payments & adding interest since September. Young adults, overwhelmingly, have been the group most likely to be laid off, working part-time and gig work with no access to benefits once graduating university. The fact even Donald Trump paused student loan repayments is something that should make every single young person with debt think, “who is Justin Trudeau working for?” It isn’t the young Canadians who are having their futures ruined by Trudeau’s willingness to accumulate debt to give to profitable companies.
Finally, despite the CRA admitting it was their fault for miscommunicating the qualifications, Sending CERB repayment letters before Christmas was unacceptable. This will destroy Justin Trudeau’s credibility among young adults and every working-class person that struggled financially during 2020. As I mentioned above, the Canadian government has given billions in pandemic relief directly to profitable companies that laid people off. One example is Air Canada who laid 20,000 people off in March while receiving $400 million in wage subsidy. Air Canada then went on to buy Air Transat and pay out big dividends to its shareholders. Not to mention that they owe millions in refunds to customers and are holding the Canadian government hostage by saying they won’t pay anyone back unless they get more bailout money.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but giving individuals $2000 helps the economy more than giving big business $2000. Consumption is what creates jobs and for us to consume, we need to have disposable income. CERB was designed to give people disposable income to keep banks and businesses from experiencing a crash when all of a sudden, people had nothing extra to spend. Asking people with nothing for their money back, whether he intends to collect it or not, was the nail in the coffin for me. I know that our Prime Minister’s priority is ensuring the success of people in financial situations similar to his, not the Canadians who are struggling. Any time Justin Trudeau says, “we’re here to support Canadians”, just know he’s lying straight to your face and mine.