The Election: Day 51/Conservative minority or majority?

Conflicting polls and headlines today left us wondering whether the Conservatives are headed for a majority or a solid minority.

Two new public-opinion surveys by Decima and SES suggested the recent Conservative wave of momentum may have crested or even receded a bit just days ahead of Monday's election. The Decima Research poll, conducted Jan. 12-15 for The Canadian Press, put the Conservatives at 37 per cent support compared with 27 per cent for the Liberals.
The NDP stood at 18 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois at 11. Previous Decima polls had the Tories leading nationally by up to 13 points.

An SES survey, conducted Jan. 14-16 for CPAC also put the Conservatives at 37 per cent support nationally, but gave the Liberals 30 per cent.

Taken together these two polls suggested that the Conservatives had peaked and were still in minority territory with up to a 10-point lead.

Meanwhile the latest Strategic Counsel poll, conducted for CTV and the Globe and Mail, showed the Conservatives with a mind-boggling 18-point lead. This poll showed the Liberals continuing to plummet in popularity, falling to an all-time election campaign low of 24%, with the Conservatives at 42%. Earlier Strategic Counsel numbers had the Conservatives leading the Liberals 40% to 27%.

Harper and Martin were campaigning today in the Toronto area. Martin was accompanied by ally Buzz Hargrove of the CAW. Hargrove earlier in the campaign had ticked off Jack Layton by urging union members to vote for Liberals to hold the Conservative hordes at bay.Today Hargrove set off a firestorm when he said Stephen Harper is essentially a separatist and Quebecers ought to vote for the Bloc because anything is better than a Tory government. Speaking to reporters after Martin's speech, Hargrove said having a strong Bloc Québécois caucus in opposition would be better for national unity than a Conservative caucus in power.

Harper said Hargrove's comments were "shocking," and suggested Martin distance himself from them. "I don't think any federalist leader should be urging people to vote for the Bloc," Harper said.

Martin went into damage control and said he doesn't agree with the characterization of Harper as a separatist. "I have large differences with Stephen Harper but I have never doubted his patriotism," Martin stated. (Imagine: Martin's great ally called on Quebecers to vote for the Bloc....)

Meanwhile Stephen Harper was into a little damage control of his own. The Ottawa Citizen today carried on the front page Harper's remarks of yesterday that the Senate,public service and courts are stacked with Grits.

Clarifying his remarks today, Harper said that the checks and balances of the courts and the Senate are part of the Canadian system of Parliament that a Conservative overnment would have to work with. "We have no alternative but to accept the checks; they're part of our system."

Judges, even though they are appointed by the government, are "independent, there's no doubt about that," he said. Harper also said he believes much of the civil service would welcome a new government and would be happy with the changes the Tories want to implement.

"I actually think that the vast majority of civil servants would welcome a government that would provide some direction for the civil service and for the country. I think they've been lacking that the past few years," he said.

As for the Senate, Harper said he wants to reform the upper house, but recognizes that wouldn't happen quickly. The Liberals have a huge majority in the Senate, which Harper said could be a worry. "The Liberal Senate in the past was extremely unco-operative when their party wasn't in power," he said.

"I hope that better judgment will prevail and the unelected Senate will play the role that historically it has played, which has been a useful technical role, but will not try to interfere with the democratic will of the elected House." CBC.ca

In British Columbia a battle royal is being waged among the Conservatives, Liberals and the NDP. There are many closely-fought three-way races. B.C. voters will probably get to tell us on Monday night whether we have a Conservative majority government or another couple of years of minority government, albeit this time a Conservative minority


Anonymous said...

The Conversion of Stephen Harper:

To change from voting Liberal to voting Conservative on Monday would mean accepting that Stephen Harper had undergone a conversion from the rightwing Saul of Canadian politics, to the middle-of-the-road Paul. Voters asked to believe this conversion need to satisfy themselves that the Harper who stood in front of a gathering of neocons in the USA in 1997 and lauded them as examples to be followed, praised their philosophy, denigrated Maritimers, decried Canada as a welfare state not to be emulated, has, in the course of the past 18 months, suddenly seen the light, and changed.

How credible is this Harper conversion? Well, let the man speak for himself: he said he has become more realistic, but his fundamental beliefs have not changed. Oh, and his comments were really in jest.

If so, how much stock can a voter place today on his program, on his statements that there will not be serious cuts, that he will not introduce legislation to take away rights entrenched by the Supreme Court? What assurance does a voter have that Harper will not turn around in six months time and tell the country: Sorry, folks – I was only joking when I said those things ....

Sorry, Mr Harper, I for one do not believe a leopard can change its spots. Not even a very smart leopard. But I do believe a leopard just might dress up in sheep’s clothing ...

cardinal47 said...

The Gregg midweek poll was obviously off-base in retrospect. Most other polls have been consistently showing Conservatives with a 9-12 point lead. SC by end of week had dropped back to that range.