indicates that 55 per cent of those polled believe it's likely that detainees captured by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan wind up being tortured by Afghan authorities. And 58 per cent believe Canada has an obligation to ensure those detainees are not abused.
On that score, only 33 per cent were satisfied with the government's confused and contradictory handling of the issue; 42 per cent were dissatisfied. Dissatisfaction was highest in Ontario (49 per cent), the province that holds the key to Tory hopes for a majority in the next election, and British Columbia (50 per cent).
The Green Plan, slightly better news, but hardly a positive reaction:
The Tory government fared a bit better with its new plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, 47 per cent were dissatisfied with the plan while 41 per cent were satisfied. Dissatisfaction was stronger than average among women and residents of Quebec - two core groups the Tories have been trying to woo in bid to secure a majority.
Moreover, two of the leading critics of the plan - environmentalist David Suzuki and former U.S. vice-president Al Gore - were deemed to be more credible than Environment Minister John Baird.
Suzuki and Gore have said the plan will do little to combat global warming while Baird insists it's a major step forward. Asked to choose whose view is more credible, 59 per cent chose Suzuki over Baird (25 per cent) and 44 per cent chose Gore over Baird (34 per cent).
This is not as bad news as some of the coverage might have suggested, but it's certainly the case that this is the agenda that has been dominating and it's not a particularly good one for the Conservatives."
Anderson noted that the 41 per cent satisfaction rate on the green plan is much better than public reaction to the Tories' initial plan last fall and actually higher than current support for the Conservative party. Still, he said the improvement is "perhaps not" as great as the government had hoped.
On the Afghan prisoner issue, Anderson said Canadians are not necessarily blaming the government for torture and abuse of detainees. However, the poll suggests that the government's handling of the matter is at odds with the majority view that torture is occurring and that Canada has a duty to prevent it.
Anderson concludes these results aren't as bad as first blush would suggest, but the bottomline, the Conservatives are losing the debate on both scores. A third of Canadians approve of the government handling of the detainee question, which is an objectively low number and speaks to incompetence. Given the fact that Harper and company have gone to great lengths to tie the detainee issue with support for the troops, the fact that they score far lower than mission support numbers is relevant. Canadians aren't buying the co-relation and the only supporters seem to be the core Conservative vote.
I admit slight surprise that the Tory Green Plan enjoys the support of 41% of Canadians. The disapproval number is higher, but from the Conservative perspective, I don't think they intended to win the issue, just gain credibility. The above numbers do suggest traction, although still a relative weakness. As Anderson points out, two key constituents for Tory prospects, women and Quebecers, are most likely to reject the Green Plan which is bad news for the Conservatives.
Afghanistan very bad + Green Plan not so bad= pretty bad.