Tag Archives: polls

Headless Liberals Could Return Sooner Than Expected

By Jason Menard

If Canadians are willing to throw their support behind a rudderless ship, can you imagine what will happen when the Liberals finally choose a leader to guide it into the next election?

Listen, we all know what dogs do to polls, but the latest one from Sun Media-SES Research is interesting that the top-driven, Stephen Harper-led Conservative Party now finds itself in a neck-and-neck struggle with the headless, directionless, confused Liberal Party of Canada in the hearts and minds of the voters. With a slim 34 per cent to 32 per cent advantage (which is wiped out thanks to statistical variation), the Conservatives may find that their stay at the helm of Canada may be brief.

The thing the Conservatives have going against them is that they represent only a small minority of Canadians. Most Canucks are socially left-wing, fiscally conservative, and looking for a party that’s willing to take progressive action on soft causes, like social growth and the environment. They also want a party that’s going to balance the books and ensure that the coffers are filled for the future.

Frustratingly enough for Elizabeth May, the Green Party seems to embody most of those ideals – it’s just too few Canadians are willing to seriously consider handing her party the keys to the country. Green policy may be solid in theory, but practically several Canadians hear Green and think Rhino. That’s not a good combination.

But when you look at the national support for Liberal (centre-left), NDP (left), Green (centre-left), and Bloc (get beyond the whole separation thing and you’ll find a big, squishy, socially conscious core), and it’s easy to see that the majority of Canadians don’t consider themselves small c conservative.

While Stephen Harper was able to benefit from Liberal disenchantment and a split left-of-centre vote, it appears this brief taste of Conservative governance has sent a few Canadians running back to the comfort of their social safety net – the left-wing parties.

When people think of Canadians, they think of tolerance, social consciousness, and environmental concern. And these are hardly the hallmarks of the Tories. Rightly or wrongly, many Canadians view the Conservatives as being nothing more than the Republican Party-lite. They see a party willing to cut literacy programs and spend more on military.

So just when everyone was writing off the Liberals as dead in the water for the foreseeable future, here comes the opportunity they’ve been looking for. And that makes the upcoming leadership convention, to be held in Montreal between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2, even more important to the future of the party – and this country as a whole.

Essentially, the delegates flocking to Montreal have an opportunity to elect the Prime Minister in Waiting. Canadians from coast to coast are looking for a party that reflects their values – but they want one that they can believe in. There’s a reason why the Liberal Party of Canada had a stranglehold on Canadian politics for years – and that’s because they represented a palatable compromise for voters from Newfoundland to B.C.

They were the party that would show compassion where it was needed, but still make decisions with the bottom line in mind. When that trust was breached with the sponsorship scandal and various other Liberal missteps, Canadians were left without a place to go.

Hence the minority Conservative government. For some reason in this country we’re not willing to hand the reins over to someone other than the Tories or the Grits. Many-a-time the comment of “well, I like the NDP, but I don’t think they can actually run the country,” has been uttered.

So with Canadians unwilling to embrace the NDP and Green in anything more than a secondary or advocacy capacity, it falls to the Liberals to be the standard bearer for the majority of Canadians. But will the voters agree that the Grits have suffered enough for their transgressions? Will they believe that an adequate lesson has been learned since the last election?

The new leader, whomever it may be, must take the opportunity to position the party as the Liberal party of old. One would think that would favour the Michael Ignatieffs or the Bob Raes who are coming in as relative outsiders, but regardless of who is chosen, they will have to commit to a new dawn of Liberal politics.

Getting back to the basics: fiscal responsibility and a social conscience. It’s a winning recipe for the Liberal Party of Canada and the political environment is ripe for a return to power. After all, when Canadians are willing to cast their ballots for a rudderless ship, imagine what would happen if that vessel was captained by someone with a clear vision and an appreciation of the best that the past has to offer.

Majority rules may come sooner than we all think!

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Latest Poll a Test of Lefty Faith

By Jason Menard

While some may look at the latest Decima Research poll as the final nail in a long-delayed Liberal coffin, it may in fact be the defibrillating jolt that the Grits need to breathe new life into their campaign.

It’s serious now for many Canadians. The debates are out of the way, the holidays are past, and the dull grey January weather is the perfect background for playing out this political drama. And with the latest poll results showing the resurgent Conservative Party enjoying a nine-point lead amongst decided voters and those who are leaning in one direction, we’ve come to the time when the left-leaning voters have to make their choice.

It’s a test of faith that will decide the outcome of the next election.

Nine points is nothing to laugh about. At 39 per cent of the decided voters, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are sniffing a majority government. Alone on the right, they’re not only enjoying voters’ lack of trust in the Liberals, but also their apparent belief in the power of Jack Layton’s New Democratic Party. Even in Quebec, the Conservatives appear to be working their way back from the brink of extinction to become an actual viable alternative, as evidenced by their six point increase of support that comes courtesy of the Bloc’s precipitous drop of 11 per cent support.

So the path of the current election is clear. If voters hold true to their stated intentions, the Conservatives will ride to a majority and the Liberals will be swept from power. But in this majority scenario, so too does the left-of-centre influence find itself on the outside looking in.

That’s where those left-leaning voters have to do a gut check and see where their priorities lie. And it’s the only hope the Liberals have to retain any semblance of power.

As Layton has expressed repeatedly through the campaign, he feels the Conservatives are just wrong on the issue and he appears to be angling for a stronger role for his NDP candidates in the next House of Commons. This campaign strategy is all fine and dandy when we’re looking at a minority government because, as he’s shown, a smaller party can have a disproportionate impact on the fortunes of the government. But in a Conservative majority, how much influence will those powerless MPs really have? In essence, Layton could find himself with more NDPs in the House of Commons, but with less power than he enjoyed in the last House with fewer representatives.

In last year’s election, polls pointed to a dead heat between the Conservatives and Liberals as voting day approached. Apparently, once voters got to the polls, they chose to vote strategically and not with their heart as NDP support migrated to the Liberal camp in order to keep the Tories and their alleged right-wing agenda out of power.

If lefties were scared last year when the polls showed a neck-in-neck race, they must be quaking in their boots now at the prospect of a Conservative majority.

Best of all, for the Liberals, is that the numbers are so striking the average Canadian can easily do the math and draw their own conclusions. There’s no need for the Grits to unleash the smear-and-fear strategy – the writing’s already on the wall and the voters don’t need anyone to spell it out.

Unfortunately for Layton, it appears that most Canadians view the NDP as a wonderful party to act as the country’s conscience, but not one to actually take Canada’s reigns and guide it in the next House in a leadership role. So that leaves the tried-and-tested Liberals.

Those soft-NDP voters, and even those disgruntled right-wing Liberals who have drifted to the Conservatives, have to take a look at the strength of their convictions. The reality of a government dominated by a right-of-centre party is upon us and they have to choose what they want their Canada to look like.

Much like Quebec, where elections are less about parties than ideologies, this federal election is shaping up to be a battle not between individual candidates, but rather a contest pitting right versus left. The battle is at hand and the right has their champion. The leftist camp has to decide whether to continue to split its forces, or consolidate their power into one front.

Voting with their hearts or their minds – it’s a test of faith for the left in which the country’s future rests.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved