OTTAWA — Canadians think government policies under
a Martin-led government would not differ greatly from those under
Chrétien, a poll says.
"Most people don't believe that Mr. Martin is about to bring in a
radical new vision for the country or a fundamental shift in direction,"
said Frank Graves, president of EKOS Research Associates Inc., which
conducted the national poll for The Toronto Star and CBC.
But Graves said there is a general feeling that Martin would do a
better job running the country.
More than 80 per cent said Martin would manage the economy better
than Chrétien. Respondents said a Martin-led government would favour
similar social policies as under Chrétien but 71 per cent said Martin
would invest more in social programs like education and health care.
Also, 61 per cent said Martin would allow more private health care
than under Chrétien.
On taxes, 61 per cent said taxes would be reduced under a Martin
"The only real threat that Mr. Martin currently seems to be
encountering is the lofty position in terms of the expectations with which
he has been freighted by Canadians," said Graves.
In some cases, these expectations are contradictory, Graves noted.
"The public expects both more spending and lower taxes and share an
overwhelming conviction that he will improve an already robust Canadian
The survey, conducted immediately after Chrétien announced his
plans to retire, also found 56 per cent of Canadians believe Martin will
be the next Liberal leader and prime minister.
"In fact, he eclipses by such a broad margin all the other
contenders, that there isn't a race of any substantive nature that seems
to appear right now."
With the leadership contest unlikely to be held until late 2003 or
early 2004, the situation could certainly change, said Graves.
Deputy Prime Minister John Manley came second but only 5 per cent
said he would be the next leader.
Other well-known contenders such as Industry Minister Allan Rock,
Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, former Newfoundland premier Brian Tobin,
and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna each garnered 2 per cent
"Probably, people will be positioning themselves for who's next
after Mr. Martin rather than really trying to knock off Mr. Martin in the
next 18 months," Graves said.
On a question about how good a prime minister Martin would be, 63
per cent said he would be a good choice, while 13 per cent said he would
be a poor choice. The rest had no opinion.
Martin enjoys support among all groups and regions. But he is more
popular in Ontario and Quebec than on the east and west coasts and is more
popular among the well-educated, high-income Canadians, men, and older
people, Graves said. |