Mr. Harper got a thumbs-up from 54% of respondents when asked if they approved of the new government's performance under his leadership.
Mr. Bricker said it's a respectable showing, especially considering his party got only 36% of the popular vote in the Jan. 23 election.
"Harper is being given a fair amount of latitude by the Canadian public at this stage of the game," Mr. Bricker said in an interview. "Fifty-four per cent approval, given the hullabaloo that happened over the last week, is actually not that bad."
Translation, Canadians tend to rally around the new government in the near term. One thing was clear this election, after the vote Canadians expected people to govern and stop the posturing. Objectively, 54% is a fair number for Harper and represents good faith.
Slightly less than half (48%) agreed with the statement that "Prime Minister Harper was elected largely because he promised to change how the federal government operates, and that these Cabinet appointments are a 'bad sign' that the old-style of federal politics are not going to change under the new government."
On the other hand, 40% agreed with the view that "Prime Minister Harper did what he had to do to build a national government, and that this is how things normally get accomplished in Ottawa."
Translation, Canadians aren't impressed with the debut. The fact that Canadians are questioning the judgment of the government during the supposed "honeymoon" phase doesn't bode well for the future. An unease exists, and the wait and see attitude will continue. Canadians are willing to give Harper a chance, but their support is soft.
This poll was conducted Tuesday to Thursday, so there could be further erosion, but the message seems clear. Harper has some rope, but he has squandered some on a week that should be a public relations lovefest. I don't think any of us expected these cabinet scandals to bring down the government, but I believe you can look at these poll results and see the seed has been planted. By any objective measure, despite a decent approval number, these results are historically relevant.