Polls Indicate Frightened Canadian Public Turning Against Coalition Takeover Bid



December 5, 2008

Canadians appear to want another election as a best option to the chaos

By Steve Jalsevac, December 4, 2008 ( – The political explosion that erupted after Canada’s Conservative government underestimated opposition party reaction to its economic measure attempt to cripple them now appears to be turning to the Conservative’s favour according to polls. Both Ipsos-Reid and Ekos polls have the Conservatives suddenly with more than enough support to win a majority should another election be called. Ipsos found that 46% of Canadians now prefer the Conservatives and the Ekos result showed the Tories with 44% support.

The Harper Conservatives faced certain defeat when the newly formed coalition of opposition parties were to present a non-confidence motion this coming Monday. The vote was killed Thursday morning when the Governor General granted the Prime Minister’s request to prorogue Parliament. Shortly thereafter Parliament was suspended by the Prime Minister with the PM stating the House would resume on January 26. Presentation of a government budget would be the first order of business.

Canwest News reports that the Ipsos-Reid poll it commissioned revealed that “Almost three-quarters of Canadians say they are “truly scared” for the future of the country and a solid majority say they would prefer another election to having the minority Conservative government replaced by a coalition led by Stephane Dion”

Canwest reports its poll results show “The fear touches every region and demographic in the country. The rate was highest in Alberta at 90 per cent, and lowest in Quebec at 62 per cent.” Pollster Darrell Bricker  indicated that the frightening prospect of a Liberal, New Democrat and Bloc Quebecois coalition government may ironically end up paving the way for the Conservatives to finally get the majority government they have long sought.

Meanwhile, division within the Liberal caucus and dissatisfaction with Stephane Dion is growing. Toronto MPs Jim Karygiannis and Judy Sgro, Newfoundland MP Scott Simms, Victoria MP Keith Martin, Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, prominent Liberals Michael Ignatieff, Frank McKenna and John Manley, are all reported to be distancing themselves from the coalition move.

Prominent Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne states on his blog of the Liberals, “I am willing to bet much of the party rank and file have no use for the coalition idea, and even less for the destruction it will wreak on the party. They will be casting about desperately, looking for someone to save them from ruin.”

Commentators are still not letting Harper off the hook, however, for unnecessarily provoking the political firestorm and placing the nation in a potentially dangerous situation at a time when government stability is seen by Canadians as being crucial.

The Hill Times reports a top Conservative source stating, “It was a mistake, in my view, I don’t know why he [Mr. Harper] did it? I think he grossly underestimated the opposition parties’ reaction because he should have realized public subsidies is their [opposition parties] lifeblood.”

Coyne, in his blog, lists Harper among the losers from the crisis. He states, “The Prime Minister ends the week greatly diminished. He misread opposition determination to hang onto their party funding welfare cheques, which set the whole mess in motion. When it blew up on him his instincts, as always, were to fight back, quickly making a bad situation worse. … His reputation as a tactician is in tatters, and his assault on the Bloc Quebecois may undermine his hopes of wooing more votes out of Quebec when the time comes.”

The unpredictability of developments in recent days however makes any future predictions of how this will all turn out at best educated guesses.

The near death of the government might present new hope for Canadians who have been dismayed by the Prime Minister’s almost cruel tactics to shut up his entire caucus on “controversial” social issues and kill even the most minor measures to improve the situation for Canada’s unborn and the protection of conscience and free speech rights.

The current developments, considered in the light of two successive failed attempts to win a majority, may help to dampen Harper’s authoritarian streak and his rigid control over the party and its MPs elected to represent the people who voted for them. It could also bring Conservative leaders back to their senses and make them more open to measures to regain the support of the party’s social conservative base – a crucial part of which appeared to stay home during the last election. 

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