CARP Advocacy Report 2012 at a Glance: The Year in Media

Our Omnibus Budget Poll made quite a splash in the media because it captured the Canadian political zeitgeist on a previously obscure legislative process while challenging long-held preconceived notions about older voters. Politicians and marketers alike think that older persons are set in their ways and make the mistake of taking their loyalty for granted. While many of our members had called for the Conservative majority, the Omnibus Bill put enough of them over the edge to switch their allegiance. For the first time in history, the NDP were leading the Conservatives in the CARP PollTM.

Not only was there saturation coverage of what CARP had to say, but the campaign became a star in its own right with articles like “Is CARP’s Hands Off OAS Campaign Starting to Take Hold?” by Jonathan Chevereau for The Financial Post (Feb. 21, 2012). As always, we are happy to share the spotlight with other people who

Context matters: CARP has been asking the Government to legislate an end to mandatory retirement for years. As of last year there stood one final bastion: a dated sub-section of the Canadian Human Rights Act still allowed mandatory retirement in federally regulated workplaces – CARP had worked over the years to have it repealed at the Provincial level. In December 2011, the Federal Government finally repealed the provision with some fanfare. CARP had spent the last several years issuing news releases, commenting on court cases and pursuing the issue at Parliamentary committees and directly with MPs of all parties, so we pointed out that it “was an overnight success after 20 years of lobbying.”

Repealing the offending section of the Canadian Human Rights Act was quite simple and it cost the government nothing in monetary terms. But were there more voters who supported the change than those who opposed it? That’s where the media comes in – to elevate a narrow, legal issue into a broadly understandable principle that people could see would affect their lives. CARP had to meet the long held notion that mandatory retirement was needed to make way for the next generation. As we pointed out in the National Post, “there has been a sea-change in public values on the issue of forcing people to retire before their time.” Politicians must have sensed that would resonate – and not just with older Canadians.

Media like to frame CARP advocacy as one side in the “generational war”. Rather than shrink from the jousting match, CARP uses the opportunity to disabuse people of the notion that our policy proposals can only be achieved at the expense of the younger generation.