Campaigns Matter – CARP Members Opt for Good Policy Over Wedge Issues

 September 14, 2011:

Toronto, ON:  CARP members want action on home care, wait times, prescription drug prices, home energy costs and help for the needy – not “hot button” issues according to the CARP poll.

There is strong support for the specific elements of CARP’s advocacy proposals and a clear preference for party platforms that address those issues rather than for wedge issues – even outpacing support for change for its own sake.  For CARP Members, “Campaigns Matter” – they want sound ideas rather than sound bites.

“Older voters are the most politically engaged and in this election are watching for proposals that will serve the public good, not just their personal interests. They are even willing to pay taxes as the price of a civilized society but want accountability and resent government waste. They want an adult debate on genuine policy proposals. That’s why we’re holding our CARP Debate – now a mandatory stop in any election campaign”, said Susan Eng, VP Advocacy, CARP.

It is not surprising that politicians of all stripes are courting the seniors’ vote – 70% of older Canadians vote regularly. There are 4.6 million Canadians [1.8 million Ontarians] 65-plus or 14% of the population but when the Boomer generation is added, there are 14.5 million Canadians [4.4 million Ontarians] 45-plus or 42% of the population. They are watching for proposals to fix the health care system, home care and caregiver support and address rising costs and  their retirement insecurity. These issues resonate especially with them but are concerns for all Canadians as we age.

The CARP Debate will feature Deb Matthews, Liberal Party, Minister of Health; Christine Elliott, Deputy Leader Progressive Conservatives and Health Critic; Dr. Robert Hilliard, NDP Candidate; Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party. Moderated by Susan Eng, VP Advocacy, CARP and hosted by Dale Goldhawk, Host of Goldhawk Fights Back! on The New AM 740 – Zoomer Radio.

The debate will take place on September 27 from 11am to 12 noon at The Concert Lobby of The New AM 740 (550 Queen Street East, Suite 205)

Over 2,600 CARP members [of whom 76% live in Ontario] responded to the CARP Poll this weekend which focussed on provincial election issues and voting preferences. The poll may accessed at:

When asked how they vote, the vast majority of members say they will support the best platform (71%), specifically the one that does the ‘right’ thing for the province (34%), followed by the one which will benefit the largest number (21%) and the platform that benefits them personally the most (16%). This far exceeds those who say it’s time for a change (11%) regardless of platforms.

Even when asked about their voting mood,  one third claim their vote is for the best party platform (33%), while one quarter want change (25%), exactly the proportion that don’t want change (“stay the course” – 24%). Only a minority say they will vote for the party they always support (6%).

The prevailing political and economic philosophy among our members seems to be represented by those who are willing to pay taxes [57%] as the price for a civilized society, for public services or to help the needy. However, a third of members dislike paying taxes but mainly because of government waste.  Indeed, accountability is key and accounting for health care spending is top of mind at the doorstep, overtaking support for  promises to spend more on specifics like home care or long term care.

Although Conservative support is high, it is not as high as in the past, and the proportion of undecideds (23%) is high so it may be that the broad middle ofOntariopolitics is on the move, and may not end up in the Conservative tent.

Along with strong support for direct democracy – “follow constituents’ wishes rather than your conscience” and for accountability and a strong minority that wants change, the views of CARP members indicate that the incumbent party cannot assume that its policy proposals, however popular, will carry the day.

Indeed, members’ financial outlooks are poor, more say they are doing worse this year than last and faith in the economy is not strong. These factors work against the incumbent party.

It is clear that old voting habits have become unmoored, and there is a strong desire for genuine policy proposals. In this context, the content and management of the two leading campaigns could be more important than voter discontent and decide the electoral outcome.

For further information, please contact:

Pam Maher   Communications coordinator
[email protected]

Michael Nicin    Policy Development and Government Relations
[email protected]