Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Conservatives Losing Their Bogeyman?

I think you need to be cautious with these type of polls, because the line of question is somewhat leading, but there is something instructive about how Canadians see "co-operation" between the opposition parties:
Nationally, 14% thought forming a Parliamentary coalition after the next election in an attempt to form a government was the best route to take.

A merger between the two parties in advance of the next election has the support of 13%.

An agreement on cooperation that would see them exist as separate parties, but where they would not run candidates against each other in ridings where one of them was contending to win garners the most support among the cooperation options, with 28% believing this is the option the two parties should take.

Three in ten Canadians (30%) prefer that the two parties not cooperate at all.

55% of Canadians support some level of co-operation, while only 30% reject. The numbers are even more attractive for the opposition electorally, when you breakdown the regions were it would matter most. Even amongst the Conservative base, only 50% oppose, while 39% support co-operation.

I don't see the above as necessarily a ringing endorsement of a coalition, in reality the much more mild proposal I made of a riding non-aggression pact is the clear preference. However, it's the wider openness that is noteworthy, and these type of polls suggest that the Conservative bogeyman is losing steam.

Yesterday, I argued that Liberals need to turn the coalition question around, into a verdict on Harper's leadership. This poll supports that view that Canadians CRAVE co-operation, they want politicians to work together, they desire something different from the status quo. This sentiment is quite dangerous for the Conservatives, and I have a feeling they may well regret any unilateral decision to make arrangements a centerpiece issue in a campaign.

The 2008 debate represented an entirely new and strange proposition. Since that debate, we've seen more and more evidence that the notion of co-operation isn't taboo, in fact it's seen as somewhat necessary. Not a full blown coalition, but the idea of a "unifer" has a built-in audience just waiting. This poll provides further confirmation to me that the unifer narrative may just be our best hope to finally rid Canada of the Harper stench.


Oxford County Liberals said...

I truly believe the UK election results, and the aftermath, where all party leaders acted in a professional manner and didn't hide from coalition, but welcomed it, has helped to turn the tide on attitudes.

Steve V said...

It certainly adds legitimacy. If there is on country we can relate to politically it's the UK, if they can make it work, it makes the Cons attacks look absurd.

WesternGrit said...

The Cons' ad was absurd. Thing is, when you have a war chest with $20 million you can almost make the people believe anything - at least that's what Harper thinks.

Party's in power DO attract more donations, so the Cons outdoing the Libs isn't that big a deal. All the Cons' wanna be "friends" are busily donating away to the coffers of the MP of their choice, so they can curry favor(s). Still, if there is an election, and IF there ends up being a Lib/NDP "deal", then there is an immediate need to institute some sort of "spending caps" and rules for WHEN advertising can happen. Party funds should be capped at a certain level to level the playing field. Keep the $1.95/voter, as this is incentive to do better, but cap other fundraising. Cons may say that they get their donations one at a time from separate donors, but in truth their donors are organized special interest groups (like church groups, etc.).

This is a good poll, but I still don't favor anything more than a "non-aggression pact, or riding by riding cooperation" pre-election. After an election, a more formal agreement could be reached between the two parties (or by the majority of MPs).

Francesco said...


Just watching the National and saw the report on a possible full merger between the two parties. Firstly, a full merger is non-starter as it should require approval from all members and negotiations that ignore the grass roots sentiment is not beneficial for anyone. Secondly, it seems that this is more a mutiny against Ignatieff than anything else. its funny how only in february/january we were tied in the polls with the conservatives. Personally, co-operation between the parties in certain ridings is fine, particularly if the NDP does not run candidates any of un-held seats in Ontario and Quebec. I guess i will wait and see what Kinsella has to say in a few minutes.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is - the sooner something like this is done, the better chance people have to get rid of the worst PM ever.

For those who fear a merger/coalition might destroy the Liberal Party of Canada, think of it this way: if the Liberals lose the next election under Ignatieff, there might not be much of a party left anyways.

Tof KW said...

Something really smells about this whole 'merger' story on CBC. Ignatieff was quite blunt over the weekend on what his views were regarding the matter, so where the hell is this coming from? If you ask me, this looks like a serious shot at his leadership, and look at who seems to be behind it.

I've already related my personal feelings in the event of a full Lib-NDP merger. Don't assume that 27% + 16% will equal 43%. Expect a full 10% drop in the first election alone - and to prove my point, go look up and combine the Ref/Alliance with the PC numbers from the 1993, 1997 and 2000 elections; with those of the CPofC in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Also remember what Chretien did to old Stockwell Day in 2000 when he became the fresh new leader of the Alliance? Anyone here doubt Harper would skewer whoever the new untested leader would be from the new Liberal-Democrats, and call an election within months of whenever they took over?

I can see your desperation; after all you've been out of power a whopping 4 years, and Harper is towering over you at a colossal 33% in the polls.

Here is an idea; why not sign a pre-election mutual non-aggression pact with the NDP so that both can attack Harper on a unified front? Both fight hard in the next election as Grits and Dippers.

If the results allow the Libs + NDP to forge a governing arrangement (without the Bloc) that finally dethrones Harper - Hurray!

If Harper manages to cling to power with a reduced seat count - watch the knives come out within the CPofC; leadership contenders will be out in the open.

In the highly unlikely event of a CPofC majority win, then you two should seriously look at mergers. Because you can bet that Harper will do everything in his power to diminish the fund-raising abilities of all the opposition parties ...and that's just the start.

Shiner said...

Here is an idea; why not sign a pre-election mutual non-aggression pact with the NDP so that both can attack Harper on a unified front? Both fight hard in the next election as Grits and Dippers.

I'm not quite as gloomy about the prospects of a united left party, but you're right on here. Why do anything so drastic, and as risky, as form a new party when the above option has so little downside? You keep your strongholds and maybe pick up some close contests where vote splitting matters. It's so damned simple and avoids all the pitfalls of a formal merge.