Thursday, May 10, 2007

Poll: Afghanistan And The Green Plan

Decima has a new poll out, that details Canadians reaction to the detainee question and the Green Plan. On the detainee question, the Conservatives get low marks:
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).

Anderson's conclusions:
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.


Miles Lunn said...

I think the Afghanistan poll is the most harmful. While the environment one is not good news, the Tories goal might have been simply to get 40% on side and then have the remaining 60% split amongst the other four parties. After all if the Tories did manage to get 41% in the next election, they would either have a majority or be very close. On the other hand 33% would at best for them given them a weak minority and possibly a loss as bad as 2004 if those opposed to their stance lined up behind Liberals rather than split amongst the other parties.

Anonymous said...

And, the Quebec regiment hasn't gone over to Afghanistan yet - then things will look quite different in Quebec.

I wonder if people are paying attention to the scandals and how that will affect polls.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Afstan's their big troublem right now, fer sure. I figger lotsa Canajuns is confuddled about green stuff but they ain't got any doubts about human decency issues like torture and the Geneva Conventions. Fer the most part, there ain't any vested interests in the torture industry who's denyin' the validity of the Geneva Conventions.

The climate change skeptics have done their best to obfuscate and confuddle the public. Seeds of doubt were planted by Harper himself (he was against effective green action before he was for it) and other big oil spokespersons and astroturf pseudo-science front organizations. When people ain't sure what to think, I reckon they're more willin' to give the benefit of the doubt.

The Cons got the reins on a wave of anti-Liberal sentiment based on AdScam corruption and a (rightly) percieved Liberal attitude of entitlement. Transparency and accountability were lacking and the new guys would be fixin' that pronto.

Now, people who pay attention can see the Cons doin' the selfsame things and doin' their dangedest to be non-transparent and unaccountable. A lot o' people don't pay much attention, though, and they're still dwellin' on the past sins of the Grits. Almost like they're gettin' reminded everyday of "13 years of blah, blah, blah..."

Trouble fer the Grits: glass house syndrome. The Cons is buryin' themselves in their own hypocrisy. Grits'd be smart to let the Dips an' Greens point out that hypocrisy lest they look hypocritical, themselves.

The big problem with Afstan is not the detainee issue. That's part of it but the big problem is the failure of the mission. Now that the Afghan parliament wants NATO to quit with the seek and destroy tactics, we really need to reassess our role. Grits can point out how the original humanitarian nation-building mission has become a series of offensive actions and even the people we're supposedly fighting for are not happy about the direction we've taken since Harper took charge.

I like non-PC boxing metaphors. I'm a dinosaur that way. The Cons is on the ropes. All the jabs and body blows with O'Connor, Oda, Rona, Baird, etc. are takin' their toll. The Grits don't have the muscle fer the knockout punch, though, and the Cons ain't throwin' in the towel. There's a few more rounds to go before an election and right now, the Cons is losin' on points.