A new poll suggests Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has a lot of public support in his continuing feud with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.
The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey looked at the war of words between the two politicians, in which Mr. McGuinty accuses Mr. Flaherty of concentrating too much on the oil-and-gas sector, and giving short shrift to troubled manufacturers.
Nationally, the poll suggests 47 per cent of respondents sided with Mr. McGuinty, with only 27 per cent backing Mr. Flaherty.
In Ontario, the poll found 56 per cent support for the Premier and 25 per cent for the minister.
The survey suggested 39 per cent of Albertans backed Mr. Flaherty, with only 27 per cent backing Mr. McGuinty.
I suspect the national support for McGuinty is helped by Quebecers, who are also concerned about their manufacturing base. In Ontario, the numbers are overwhelming for McGuinty, Flaherty's attacks are clearly failing. Interestingly, Flaherty apparently didn't get the memo, as he was at it again just yesterday:
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty launched a post-budget blitz today by lecturing provinces on the need to lower taxes and taking a swipe at Premier Dalton McGuinty for making Ontario "the last place" in Canada to start a business.
This poll tells us a few things, all of which are good news for the Liberals. The Conservatives have made this a partisan fight with the Premier of Ontario, and in that sense, he may well have a role to play in the national campaign. McGuinty's presence could clearly be a plus in this regard, as he enjoys great support in arguing Ontario's case, pointing out the disporportionate focus of the government. McGuinty can make the case on the economy, as well as on the Conservative seat-distribution proposal, which clearly works against Ontario, the "small man of confederation" could play a big role in weaving a coherent theme of bias against Ontario.
These results also reveal, in quite stark terms, that Ontarians don't believe the federal government has their interests at heart. This nervousness provides the basic theme of any Liberal campaign, as they can clearly fill the void in Ontario. If Dion can make the case, he has a willing audience, which allows for some optimism.