OTTAWA — The Liberals ramped up their get-out-the-vote push Saturday with a message targeting younger Canadians, a sign the federal election campaign may soon turn away from policy messaging and toward mobilization.
With just over two weeks to go until election day Oct. 21, the party is once more appealing to a demographic that was crucial in securing its majority victory in 2015.
Young voter participation jumped by over 18 per cent in the last election, with around 57 per cent of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 casting a ballot, as well as a similar proportion of Canadians aged 24 to 34.
Yet young Canadians traditionally vote at far lower rates than other age groups, and youth turnout will be a key question in the upcoming election.
Recent polling from Ipsos found that 43 per cent of men aged 34 and under, and 48 per cent of women in the same age group, said they would for certain vote in the upcoming election.
Research from Abacus Data suggests Canadians between the ages of 18 and 38 are the largest voting bloc in this election at around 37 per cent of the total electorate.
The Liberals made the case to young voters Saturday they should stay involved in the process — and park their vote with the party.
The statement released by the Liberals specifically cited a promise to increase Canada Student Grants by 40 per cent, as well as pledges to implement a two-year grace period on student loan repayment.
They also listed promises in key areas thought to be of importance to younger voters: climate, health services, and economic inequality.
Other parties have also made pledges designed to appeal to younger Canadians.
The NDP have promised to eliminate interest on student loans, while the Greens committed to abolish tuition altogether.
The Conservatives announced plans to boost federal contributions to Registered Education Savings Plans.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau didn’t make any public appearances today, but the party noted that early voting is available on some university campuses from today until Wednesday — part of an expanded program from Elections Canada.
In 2015, the country’s electoral agency tested a pilot project on 39 post-secondary campuses, in which Canadians could vote by special ballot regardless of whether they were a student.
Elections Canada has boosted the number of sites this year to 109 campuses.
The campus polling locations are open ahead of the traditional advance polls, which will open across the country Oct. 11. As part of the agency’s participation push, those advanced polls will be open all day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. through Oct. 14.
With files from Global News
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