Thursday, December 20, 2007

CPC Support Fragile

I'm not going to spend much time on the actual numbers that the latest polls show for the various parties - it's mostly a rehash of things as they have sat for the last couple of years.

I think what is interesting is how little it has taken to knock the Con$ back to a statistical tie.

• Former Tory prime minister Brian Mulroney's admission that he accepted cash-stuffed envelopes from arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber and kept the payments secret for years.

• Heavy criticism of Canada's position at the climate-change summit in Bali.

• Political fallout from a critical shortage of medical isotopes due to the shutdown of the Chalk River nuclear reactor.

When you look at it, no one of those should have resulted in the kind of drop that we've seen here. I suspect that Mulroney's testimony mostly confirms what most Canadians thought of him before, and has relatively little impact overall.

The Chalk River reactor issue and the Bali positions are more serious and immediate concerns.

The government's attempts to play partisan games surrounding the reactor shutdown is appalling and shows the Conservatives up as being primarily interested in propping up their polling figures rather than good policy. While there is relatively little likelihood of a disaster occurring, we should not lose sight of the fact that AECL was ordered to upgrade key safety systems quite some time ago. The regulatory authority involved was absolutely correct to demand the work be done prior to restarting a reactor that is now over fifty years old. Harper's blithe statements when he forced a restart of the reactor demonstrate that the man has no understanding of the engineering principles involved.

As for the Bali talks, the government's position was such a blatant sucking up to Washington job that I think it was horrendously out of step with the vast majority of Canadians.

What the sudden drop in the polling numbers really shows us is how fragile the Con$ervative support really is. Harper doesn't seem to realize that he is in power because a lot of people voted "anything but Liberal", not because they actually believe in what Harper actually represents. Every time Harper shows us his real colours, the party's polling fortunes plummet 5-6 percentage points.

There are some interesting regional numbers as well:

In Ontario, the Liberals scored 41 per cent support, widening their lead over the Tories who stood at 31 per cent.

In Quebec, the Bloc Québécois remained in the lead with 40 per cent, but the Liberals had moved up to second place with 23 per cent followed by the Tories at 17 per cent — an 11-point drop.

Tory popularity slid dramatically even in the party's traditional strongholds and among groups usually most supportive.

In Alberta, for instance, Tory support plummeted almost 20 points to 45 per cent. In British Columbia, support dropped 17 points to 31 per cent.

In Atlantic Canada, where the Conservatives had been leading for most of the year, the Liberals edged ahead with 36 per cent to the Tories' 33 per cent.

Overall, this is what I would expect, especially with Harper becoming somewhat more emboldened in his implementation of Bush-style Rethuglicanism in Canada. Hopefully, more voters will start to wake up to how little Harper actually represents their goals and aspirations as Canadians for Canada.

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