Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another Coalition Poll

Nanos weighs in with a poll on the coalition, that shows the same regional discrepancy we've seen before, although the numbers are more balanced in Ontario, compared with prior polling:
Overall, 49 per cent said an election should be called versus 42 per cent who said Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean should invite the opposition parties to form a coalition.

In Quebec, 62 per cent wanted the opposition parties to have a chance to govern, while 30 per cent wanted an election called.

Those numbers were reversed in western Canada, where 65 per cent wanted an election and only 29 per cent favoured an opposition coalition.

Ontario and Atlantic respondents were more closely split, with 46 per cent and 49 per cent respectively favouring an election. Forty per cent in both regions favoured a coalition government.

The only "region" that backs a coalition is Quebec, which is hardly surprising. Nanos also affirms the decided rejection of a coalition in the "west". Ontario doesn't support the option, but the numbers are closer than we've seen before, which is noteworthy.

There's nothing here that dissuades me from my point of view, that while constitutional and justified, a coalition would create a national unity crisis. When you only have one province showing solid support, it's pretty hard to make a compelling argument for legitmacy, apart from the weak "they'll get used it/they'll learn to love it" reasoning. A coalition would create a national chasm, you need more regional balance, for it too thrive.

The reality is, a coalition is clearly no longer a likely option, apart from some half hearted proclamations, none of the parties are really pushing hard. Still on the table, but a side dish at best.


Anonymous said...

A national unity crisis? Please.

A bunch of people getting about politics angry doesn't constitute a national unity crisis.

Aggravate a sense of western alienation? Sure, I'll buy that. But there will be no national unity crisis for the simple reason that there is no province in Canada, other than Quebec, that is in any way seriously contemplating seperation and the coalition is plenty popular in Quebec.

Steve V said...

"A national unity crisis? Please."

Your ignorance is staggering.

Steve V said...

When 62% of Canadians didn't vote for Harper, and only 42% support an option other than Harper, it suggests something might be amiss, or maybe some prudence moving forward.

janfromthebruce said...

I agree with anon. Harper didn't mind putting 18 conservatives in the senate although he pissed off his base of support bigtime, and the media, and most folks.
He knows that these feelings go away as Canadians get use to the idea, and he does some messaging spin.

Only thing to fear is fear alone. Of course, maybe we don't want Iggy being PM, as he may be spouting "war" and "warmongering."

Steve V said...

"these feelings go away as Canadians get use to the idea"

"it's pretty hard to make a compelling argument for legitmacy, apart from the weak "they'll get used it/they'll learn to love it" reasoning."

James Bow said...

I disagree that the numbers itself create a national unity crisis. Note: according to this poll, almost one in three people in the western provinces want the coalition to have a chance at governing. While a minority, it's still a significant minority. Secondly, while the question has an answer for "which do you prefer? An election, or giving the coalition a chance to govern?", it doesn't have an answer for such questions as "how upset would you be if the coalition were given a chance to govern?" or "is a coalition government a legitimate option?"

Certainly, politicians could (and probably would) try to take these numbers, call on their strengths and deliberately or inadvertently try to spark a national unity crisis, but the suggestion of unanimity in the West -- or even in Quebec, where over 1 in 3 want an election -- isn't accurate. We can't assume that a region speaks with one voice.

ANON said...

Harper staying on as PM helps Harper. It also tangentially could help LeBlanc and Rae. Politics makes strange bedfellows, eh ...?

On the poll itself, a different question needs to be asked:

"If the budget fails, would you support an alternative government headed by Michael Ignatieff for eighteen months, or would you support another election immediately costing 400 million?"

I think the results of such a question, outside of Alberta, would be a majority in favor of the coalition.

Steve V said...


1 in 3 is about as weak as it gets for any finding. And, it should be noted, that the LAST thing Canadians want is another election, they always want anything but, and yet we see these numbers. That isn't a toss away point.

It would create a crisis, because parts of the country would feel their choice was tossed aside by an eastern power grab. If you don't think that's the mentality, then you aren't paying attention. Part of the problem is the last election, Harper has an increased "mandate", that's how we refer to it in Canada. Everyone understands minorities, but they don't quite get how a government that increased its share is pushed aside, by a union, led by the people that were just trounced at the polls. If the results were closer, a different circumstance, it would probably have a common sense appeal, but it doesn't.

Anonymous said...

"Your ignorance is staggering."

You can throw around insults as much as you like, but it doesn't change the fact I'm right: as upset as people would, or may would, be if the coalition were to form government, it is ludicrous to think it would provoke a national unity crisis when the only region of the country that has ever seriously suggested it might wish to seperate from Canada is the one region where the coalition is most popular.

"When 62% of Canadians didn't vote for Harper, and only 42% support an option other than Harper, it suggests something might be amiss, or maybe some prudence moving forward."

Your proving my point for me. 'Something being amiss' and a requirement of 'prudence moving forward' are a long way from a "national unity crisis"--which might be characterized by violence in the streets or the country breaking.

Steve V said...


Everyone can keep playing the linguistics game, fact of the matter is, we now have a host of different samples, all showing relatively similar judgements on the coalition. I guess NANOS has a bias now too. I think the main problem, separating what you endorse from the greater sense, too much denial for my tastes.

Steve V said...

"Your proving my point for me."

Am I now? Umm, why aren't the 62% of Canadians that voted other parties, not supporting those other parties in their collective want? They didn't vote for Harper, that's our main argument right, and yet, a third of those jump off any attempt to get rid of the man they don't like. Alright then.

And, when you want be such a tool with your "please", get a clue first, because nobody is talking about separation, where talking about ALIENATION, which has lasting impact and must be considered.

ottlib said...

Hmmm, the idea of a coalition is not as objectionable as it used to be except in the West, which is understandable.

So, was the initial rejection of a coalition a rejection of that or a rejection of the idea of Stephane Dion as PM?

I do not think that you can discount that.

As for a national unity crisis I believe you are overstating the impact of a coalition Steve. Westerners have had a chip on their shoulder for decades with regard to the East but despite this they have never been able to grow a seperatist movement beyond about 5% of Albertans. As well, we can look forward to those same people being pissed off once the Liberals win another election. We all know that it will be the result of gains in Ontario and Quebec thus pissing off Westerners. The fear of a national unity crisis is not a very good reason to eliminate the idea of a coalition if it is necessary.

All that being said, I happen to agree with you Steve that the Liberals should not try to form a coalition government unless it becomes absolutely necessary.

My reasons are purely political. We are at the beginning of a recession that is shaping up to be a government killer. There is nothing the government will be able to do to really assist Canadians to get through it. Canadians are just going to have to suck it up and endure. Of course that will not stop them from expecting the government to somehow work a miracle and when that government fails to do so it will be duly punished and punished badly by the electorate.

If it is all the same to you I would very much prefer that government to be a Conservative one.

Dame said...

I Think these polls are From the
Brainfog -times Ask people in end of January February or March..

What is better a Minority Government For a short period what probably cant make any great decision ...or A Coalition For Two years with Government what Support 3 parties ...
There is no pure situation at this time with the worst economical downturn...

I Think The possibility of a Minority Government is the worst .

Patsplace said...

It's posted time and again, that "the last thing Canadians want at this time is an election". WRONG.

The last thing Canadians want is a coalition government made up of two parties that 80% to 90% of Canadians have no use for at all and one that the lowest percentage in Canadian history supported.

Campaign as a coalition or don't. When there's an election, Canadians will put their vote where they don't have to worry about unholy unions and back room deals.

Vote Conservative for stability in Canada!!!!

Anonymous said...

"[W]hy aren't the 62% of Canadians that voted [for] other parties, not [sic] supporting those other parties in their collective want? ... nobody is talking about separation, where talking about ALIENATION, which has lasting impact and must be considered."

Again, you're proving my point. My exact words from my first comment were: "Aggravate a sense of western alienation? Sure, I'll buy that. But there will be no national unity crisis".

A "national unity crisis" would necessarily have to entail things such as seperation, riots, violence, civil war or large scale civil disobedience. Otherwise the "unity" of the "nation" would not be in "crisis".

You may call this a "linguistics game", but what I've been saying since my first comment is that "a host of different samples" showing "62% of Canadians didn't vote for Harper, and only 42% support [the coaltion]" plus a sense of "ALIENATION, which has lasting impact and must be considered" does not equal a "national unity crisis".

Sure, those things are problems for the coalition. There bad things. But heck, if every anti-Harper voter supported the coaltion, then Michael Ignatieff would probably be plowing ahead with it as we speak. It's just that "national unity crisis" is a huge exaggeration, a huge leap.

(Two notes: One, I think the biggest problem the coalition has is that people just don't know that coalitions are a normal part of almost every political system in the world. Harper told people it was undemocratic, and no one pointed out he was lying. The fact is that the Conservatives got over 50% of the vote in the West and won over 80% of the seats [roughly, I don't have the exact numbers in front of me]. Of course people there want them to form government. But the percentage of people who voted against Harper but do not support the coalition is no greater in Western Canada than anywhere else.

Two, in my previous post I meant to write "as upset as people would, or would NOT, be" and "the country breaking UP".)

janfromthebruce said...

Good read in the Ottawa Citizen today, Two cheers and a jeer.
Take note,
PR: Oh, for sure. I mean, it's always very, very tough when a prime minister does a dishonourable thing. I consider it dishonourable to promise a confidence vote and then, a few days later, make it impossible by asking for a prorogation of Parliament. People might have other adjectives; I'll stick with dishonourable.

In a democratic culture, it's so tough for the Crown to step in and stand up for a democratic principle, particularly when you have a government with huge machinery of propaganda, which it's shown every inclination to use, and would use, both on the office of the governor general and probably on her personally. These people take no prisoners!

When you look at that polling result and note the west, one needs to take into consideration that huge machinery of propaganda, which Harper's crew used to frame the coalition. Now that is softening as media finally were saying well yes, coalition govts are legit.

So you are saying that Liberals would rather get into bed with Conservatives who they know have this huge machinery of propaganda, and have the ruthless attitude of take no prisoners? Willing to get in bed with this beast when they turn it on the liberals again?

I agree with James Bow question: I think asking that one would definitely get different results, but than perhaps the political elites don't want that truth cause it doesn't work for them, but is sure works for the majority of Canadians.

Steve V said...


RuralSandi said...

JanfromtheBruce - you are an NDP'r and you want a coalition, and yet, you spend an awful lot of time attacking Liberals and Ignatieff on the blogosphere - nice way to work together.

This is one reason a coalition won't work. You can only have one leader and if NDP supporters hate the Liberals so much, and Layton spends time playing his usual games, it's doomed.

Jerry Prager said...

Just a few points: for those who have said in the past that not one Canadian voted for a coalition, arguably, those who voted for Frank Valeriote did, because Frank raised the issue in the last election, several times. It was part of his message. And he won. Of course, he would have won by a much larger margin if the local Greens hadn't thought they had a chance to change the political face of Canada, and if the NDP's Tom King hadn't been such a strong candidate. But the fact is, Canadians here did have coalition on the table.
Otherwise, I agree with those who say the anti-coalition numbers game is a consequence of Tory propaganda (and outright lies) about the nature of Canadian democracy, coupled with a failure of the Canadian media (beyond Don Newman at the CBC) to defend Canadian democracy.
That said, Harper and Flaherty and the rest of the Lack of Common Sense Reactionaries will stumble through the budgetary process, but the bill will be passed. After that, the economy will continue to worsen, and all the legal actions against the Tories - including Mulroney and his German arms dealer friend - will continue to erode their credibility. The Con bastion of Tar Sands Alberta will continue to sink into recession as Harper tries to save the economic stranglehold his bosses there have on Canada's future, while Harper struggles in vain to look good around Obama. With Kinsella in the war room, Harper's split personality will not go un-noticed, and Steven's blue sweater persona will be seen to be as schizoid as it is. Ignatieff's breadth and depth of intelligence will become ever more appealing, and the HarperCon Reaction will be over by next Christmas.

Mark Francis said...

It wouldn't start a unity crisis!

Harper would start the unity crisis!

Comparing the election which a current poll doesn't give meaningful results. The difference between a poll and voting is the difference between musing and doing.

The West screams mutiny everytime it doesn't get what it wants, or what Harper says it doesn't need. That gives me remarkedly little reason to ignore Parliament's will.

The Jurist said...

Coalition support:
Quebec - 62%
Ontario - 40%
Atlantic Canada - 40%
Western Canada - 29%

Con support (latest from Nanos):
Western Canada - 44%
Ontario - 35%
Atlantic Canada - 28%
Quebec - 17%

Based on the above, how can anybody looking at current polls as a barometer of legitimacy consider the coalition to be anything but a more widely-supported option than the Cons?

Steve V said...

"Harper would start the unity crisis!"

Mark, I think we saw a taste of the bombast when the coalition first came out. I don't think anyone would argue that this issue engaged average Canadians more than any other, in quite some time. The reactions were visceral, rather than rational. If a coalition came to pass now, we would see a return to emotional responses, fueled by a party which would do the martydom routine. The notion of an eastern power grab, at the expense of the west, would further harm national unity in a LASTING way. Again, the election results were such, that you have an improved position for the government, a weakened alternative, while still a minority, the optics of that party pushed aside would create problems. I'm just projecting what we would see in terms of reaction, and given the media frame to date, it would get very ugly.

The only way I see a change, if this budget is obnoxious, then people might see Harper as the only obstacle and, with a more credible head of the opposition, you could make the case. Not probably, but not impossible either.


Jan makes no sense. She hates the Liberals, thinks Iggy is a Harper clone, and yet she is prepared to work with that option. Why not just approach Harper, there's really no difference, right? It makes no sense, and my head hurts just trying to reconcile the dual logic.


Doesn't that just show an inconsistency in part support and coalition support. Why is it, that people that support other options to the Conservatives, don't support a coalition? It's a strange difference, but one that speaks volumes.

The Jurist said...

Actually, it suggests that the relative preferences for a current government are as follows:

Coalition > Cons > Neither

And considering that you don't seem to have any problem leaving the Cons in power if they can survive the budget vote, that leaves no plausible argument to try to suggest that the coalition lacks legitimacy if it's able to form government due to parliamentary outcomes.

Steve V said...


Shouldn't coalition support mirror the support of the three respective parties? The fact it doesn't is quite alarming, when you think about it.

Joyce said...

If Ignatieff's test for the Harper budget is how it treats the most vulnerable, then the coalition is in. Harper stacks the Senate and we're worried about the coalition numbers being in the 40s. Backbone, principles and resolve - a resolution for 2009.

Steve V said...

" Harper stacks the Senate and we're worried about the coalition numbers being in the 40s."

No, we should just plow ahead with whatever we want, public opinion be damned- I find government works best that way.

That said, it is interesting, that Ignatieff is highlighting the less vulnerable, pushing his demands, because that's not exactly a natural fit for Harper.