Feb. 28, 2004
I have never seen such anger, voter says
Respondents' voices add fury to the facts Emotions vary in wake of sponsorship scandalRespondents' voices add fury to the facts

MARY GORDON
OTTAWA BUREAU

OTTAWA—Hugh Urquhart has voted for the federal Liberals all his life but he may not now.

He's one of 1,020 Canadians interviewed in an EKOS poll on the federal political landscape, in which 38 per cent of Canadians agreed with the statement: "I'm so disturbed by problems with ethics and accountability that I simply won't vote for the Liberals in the next election."

Urquhart, 51, is "livid" after Auditor-General Sheila Fraser's report revealed how millions of dollars were lost in the federal sponsorship program.

And he says he's not alone.

"It's anger right down to the dry-cleaning man.

"He's got his MRI waiting weeks (away) and $100 million (has) gone missing," Urquhart said.

"I've never seen such anger."

The poll found the scandal hurt the Liberals but they stand ready to form the next government: 42 per cent would vote Liberal if an election were called tomorrow, down from 56 per cent on Dec. 3.

Thirty-two per cent would vote for the Conservatives, 15 per cent for the New Democrats, and 9 per cent for the Bloc Québécois.

Up until now, Urquhart liked Paul Martin as prime minister, but unless inquiries into the sponsorship affair clear his name, Urquhart says he trusts Conservative leadership candidate Steven Harper more.

"I'm not sure where he stands on all the issues," the Mississauga man said, "but it's the integrity I'm looking for."


`It's the integrity I'm

looking for'

Hugh Urquhart, Mississauga voter


Others didn't find the sponsorship scandal particularly bothersome.

Amelia Dirubail of Montreal said she'd vote Liberal, that "there's good and bad in everybody" and blamed the media for blowing things out of proportion.

Kathleen Biggs of Dartmouth, N.S., would also vote Liberal and said the scandal isn't any worse than others.

Like 63 per cent of those surveyed, she thinks the Liberals will win the next election, but predicts a minority government, as do 54 per cent of respondents. And like 54 per cent of those polled, she thinks that's good.

"The public officials and those that are in cabinet would have to be so extra-conscious of not having a vote of non-confidence thrown at them," Biggs said.

She still respects politicians despite the scandal.

"Most of us are not comfortable with public life so you have to give them all credit for attempting."

Arliene Klock of Port Alberni, B.C., is one of 15 per cent of Canadians who would vote for the NDP if there were an election tomorrow.

The retired teacher thinks the scandal would affect an election one of two ways:

"People have become so cynical, they'll say, `See, there, they've done it again,' and they won't come out to vote. Either that, or it will make them mad as hell and they'll come out to vote in droves."

Or it may make no difference whatsoever.

Nearly 1 in 4 Canadians said they weren't aware of the scandal.

When asked about it, Craig Thompson, a 25-year-old customer service representative from Markham, asked to be refreshed on the subject.

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