Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Come Back Kid

As the Toronto Star poll says; a week in politics is a long time. And this week was the return of the Contender.

With the week off from Parliment, the Party Leaders swept on Ontario to lobby for votes, to see if there is an appitite to kick the Liberals out of office.

Paul Martin did a Hail Mary by apologizing to Canadians and Quebecois for six minutes on TV last weekend, and then agreeing to a new budget deal with the NDP by Monday.

That left Harper 'flabergasted' and angry, and his tone was vitrolic. This week was a mini 'annus horriblus' for the Conservatives. Come hell or high water Harper would show he was not impotent and damn them lefties he would call an election. Knowing full well he had the the backing of the permanent opposition party in the house; the BQ.

Harper declared class war in front of a partisan crowd of business people. How dare they use taxpayers money to benefit....ummmmm.....taxpayers., Harper declared. Instead they should have given tax cuts to the corporations. See my comment: Mr. Harper Friend of the Working Man.

Well that didn't fly in Canada this week. It was Harper the dodo, lots of flap no lift.

As Brian Laghi of the Globe and Mail writes today:

"As for Mr. Harper, it appears his baggage from the Reform Party and last year's election campaign, along with his somewhat aggressive performance during the past week, have combined to brand him in the public's eye as a man with a hidden agenda. Recall, also, that the Reform Party was seen by many as a party of anger and Mr. Harper's aggressive performance in the wake of Mr. Martin's s national televised address, which he called a sad spectacle, may well remind them of what it used to be about."

Instead the Martin Layton one two punch was delivered squarely on Harpers jaw, and all the poll results show that. Martin maintained his parties status quo position in the polls, basically patching a badly leaking life raft. If an election is called now it will be to return a Minority Government either Liberal or Conservative.

The winners this week were the NDP and Jack Layton as the Toronto Star points out:

"New Democrats have reason to cheer today's poll results, with Graves saying: "Not since the salad days of the 1980s have the NDP been poised to exert such influence on the Canadian political scene." The NDP tops all other parties as the second choice, with 24 per cent of respondents saying they would move their vote to Layton's party."

The announcements yesterday of the First Provincial funding agreements for Day Care were between the provincial NDP governments of Manitoba and Sasktchewan and the Liberal Feds further cemented the Layton Martin accord.

The NDP bailed out Martin in a big way and stopped the Conservatives in their tracks.

While Martin made lots of money announcements the key is that the budget must get passed. Not getting the Atlantic Accord pulled out of the budget, is the fallback card for Martin.

Layton did the next best thing and took his first announcement about the Liberal NDP Budget to Halifax and announced that if the Accord was to be finalized then the new budget would have to pass. That meant Harpers Atlantic Conservatives would have to support the NDP Liberal budget. It was an excellent parry of the Conservatives whining.

And if the Conservatives are not going to look like the opportunist amatuers they are they may have to postpone their attempt to "end the Liberals misery" until the budget vote. And even then they can't count on every member of their party or the BQ will be in the house for that vote.

Suddenly next weeks rush to judgement by Harper looks more like it may become a case of the mouse that roared. As the Globe and Mail points out:

"Finally, Mr. Harper finds himself with little support in Quebec and actually running third in urban parts of Canada with populations of more than a million. Indeed, the New Democrats are the second choice of more Canadians than are the Tories."

The winners this week, the people of Canada, with an improved pro-people budget. Even Bono would be pleased.

And the polls show that Harpers drop coincides with a rise in support for the left, the NDP and Greens. Not the Tories. If Liberal votes went anywhere it was to the left.

Martin's wait-for-Gomery campaign appears to strike a chord with voters
With a report from Shawna Richer in Halifax
Friday, April 29, 2005 Globe and Mail

However, as the Liberals and Conservatives batter away at each other, many Canadians appear dissatisfied with both. The poll found that in addition to the 18 per cent of respondents who support the NDP, 10 per cent supported the Green Party, which has never elected an MP. And Liberal supporters are twice as likely to switch to the NDP as to the Conservatives, the poll found. In Quebec, the Bloc appears set to romp to a sweep of most of the province's 75 seats. That support is unusually firm: only 6 per cent of Bloc supporters said they could switch to the Liberals. "The Liberals have nothing to pick up. Nothing," Mr. Gregg said. "They are gone in the province of Quebec." Support for the other federalist parties in Quebec stands at 9 per cent for the Conservatives, 8 per cent for the NDP, and a surprising 12 per cent for the Greens. "None of the federalist parties are right now satisfactory options for federalist voters," Mr. Gregg said. The survey of 1,000 Canadians was conducted between April 24 and 27. It has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent 19 times out of 20.


Liberal: 30%

Conservative: 28%

NDP: 18%

Bloc: 14%

Green: 10%

3% of Canadians say the government is doing an 'excellent job'

24% say it is doing a 'very poor' job

9% of Quebeckers support the Tories; 12% back the Green Party

61% of Canadians are willing to wait until Gomery reports before voting

49% say their opinion of Paul Martin has worsened in the past year

Fri, 29 Apr 2005
CBC News
OTTAWA - Two new polls show the federal Conservative party has lost its lead in public opinion across Canada in the past week.

LIB 30 27
CON 28 25
NDP 18 11
BQ 14 11
GREEN 10 8

GPC: margin of error 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Strategic Counsel: margin of error 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The two national polls, by GPC Research and Strategic Counsel, each have a margin of error that puts the Liberals and Conservatives in a statistical tie. But they are a substantial turnaround from other recent polls, which have shown the Conservatives ahead of the Liberals by as much as seven percentage points. "As it stands now, it looks like there's still life in the Liberal party, which comes as a surprise for a number of people," Gail Haarsma, vice-president of research for GPC, told the Canadian Press. Her firm interviewed 1,215 voters by telephone between Monday and Wednesday of this week. Allen Gregg, chairman of Strategic Counsel, said his firm's polling, done for the Globe and Mail newspaper and the CTV network, indicated there is a ceiling to Conservative support. "For example, they are running third in cities over a million in population right now, at 18 per cent, behind the New Democrats," he told the Globe. Strategic Counsel polled 1,000 Canadians between Sunday and Wednesday. Both polls were taken after Prime Minister Paul Martin's television address last week, in which he said an election should not be held until Justice John Gomery has made his report on the federal sponsorship scandal.

And a third poll, taken just in Quebec, indicates support for separatism may not be as high as another survey showed earlier this week. The poll, released this week by the CROP polling firm, found only 47 per cent of Quebecers favoured sovereignty, compared with the 54 per cent support a Léger Marketing poll reported on Wednesday. The two polls had comparable sample sizes of about 1,000 people, and both were accurate within three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.



APRIL 30,2005

OTTAWA—The political alliance between federal Liberals and New Democrats is helping push Prime Minister Paul Martin's government onto the comeback trail, according to a new Toronto Star poll.

The poll, by EKOS Research Associates, was the first to be conducted after Martin made his deal with NDP Leader Jack Layton to help save the government. It shows the Liberals rebounding and back ahead of the Conservatives nationally after a dramatic plunge earlier this month.

Martin's Liberals now stand at 32.5 per cent among decided voters, compared to 30.5 per cent for the Tories and 19 per cent for the NDP. Just three weeks ago, the Liberals bottomed out at 25 per cent while Conservatives were rising with 36 per cent support nationally.

In Ontario, the Liberals have climbed back to 39 per cent while the Tories are at 33; a near complete reversal of results a couple of weeks ago and more in keeping with the province's Liberal-friendly tradition. With 106 seats, Ontario will be the main battleground in the election.

In fact, overall, it seems that most of the dramatic trends witnessed at the beginning of this month have now reversed, the Star-La Presse poll shows, and Martin's new pact with Layton could be proving to be a helpful factor in the Liberal bounceback. On Tuesday night, Martin and Layton announced an agreement that forces the Liberals to rewrite the budget in return for NDP support in securing its passage.

When EKOS asked respondents which federal political alliance made them least comfortable, a full 59 per cent declared unease with a Conservative-Bloc Québécois alliance, compared to 33 per cent who said a Liberal-NDP pact.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has declared that he wants to put the government "out of its misery" by voting with the Bloc to defeat the Liberals, even with the NDP siding with Martin.

Martin and Layton have been saying for several days that Harper is now in bed with the separatists in an attempt to force an early election and prevent major progressive programs such as daycare and public housing from going ahead.

Today's poll shows that Martin and Layton's efforts may be having some effect. EKOS found that public anger is abating over the dramatic allegations of kickbacks and tax-dollar abuse revealed earlier this month at Justice John Gomery's inquiry into the sponsorship scandal.

Harper's similar fanning-out efforts this week, on the other hand, seem not to be helping. Indeed, EKOS found that 50 per cent of Canadians "just can't see" the Conservative leader being elected as prime minister. Nor are Harper's chances improved when people see him as an ally of the Bloc.

"While Stephen Harper may see an NDP-(Liberal) alliance as unholy, his reliance on the BQ to dislodge the Liberals may well constitute the Conservatives' most glaring exposed flank," EKOS president Frank Graves says.

"Paul Martin and Jack Layton are regarded as a far less frightening political couple; rather, it is Stephen Harper and Gilles Duceppe who are seen as disturbing and beyond odd bedfellows."

But the Liberals aren't out of the woods. Buried among generally positive news for the Liberals are these results:

A majority of Canadians, 60 per cent, feel it's time for a new government in Ottawa. Still, that's roughly the same number who thought so a year ago, too.

Anger over the sponsorship issue is still running higher than anger over any early election call. While 52 per cent of Canadians said they would be inclined to punish a party at the ballot box over the sponsorship issue, only 35 per cent said they would hold an early election against any party when making their voting choice.

"..(Stephen Harper's) reliance on the BQ to dislodge the Liberals may well constitute the Conservatives' most glaring exposed flank."

Frank Graves, EKOS president

Martin is seen more as part of the problem than as part of the solution. While 32 per cent said he had no part in the sponsorship scandal and deserves credit for calling the inquiry, almost twice that number — 62 per cent — agreed he should be accountable because he was a key player in the government that ushered in the program.

In Quebec, things are not so rosy for Martin. The Bloc Québécois stands at 49 per cent, the Liberals, 21, NDP, 14, and Conservatives, 11.

But on a countrywide basis, Martin seems to be holding his own, relative to Harper. Overall, 36 per cent of respondents identified Martin as the best leader for the country as a whole, compared to 28 per cent who saw Harper through that lens.

When respondents were asked which leader was best for the interests of particular provinces, Martin was seen as best for Ontario, B.C. and the Atlantic, while Harper scored highest in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The poll was conducted this week, from Tuesday to Thursday, among 1,212 Canadians of voting age (18) or older. The results are deemed valid to within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error increases when results are subdivided by region.

Still, this new EKOS poll shows that a week can indeed be a lifetime in politics and especially a week in which political leaders have been engaged in such frenetic activity. Martin, Harper and Layton inundated Ontario with visits this week, while the Liberal-NDP deal was being negotiated and Conservatives were weighing the public appetite for an election.

The poll shows more Canadians would like to see a majority government than a minority government, a reversal of attitudes seen in February 2004. But is also finds a public resigned to a minority, with 69 per cent predicting that as the likely outcome of the next election.

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