OTTAWA — Jean Chrétien is bleeding
from an ongoing ethics scandal, but the wounds so far do not appear
life-threatening, a new poll indicates.
The governing Liberals have experienced a "significant" drop of
nine percentage points in public support — four points in the last two
weeks — but the poll by EKOS Research Associates also shows no other party
poised to take advantage of the deepest crisis in the Chrétien government
since it came to power in 1993.
The poll, commissioned by The Toronto Star, CBC and La Presse, also
shows most respondents still feel the Prime Minister, among the federal
leaders, is best placed to deal with corruption. And half of those
questioned said they approved of Chrétien's promise last week to introduce
an eight-point ethics package.
Chrétien also won strong support for his decision to fire former
defence minister Art Eggleton over the awarding of an untendered contract
to his former girlfriend.
EKOS found support for the Canadian Alliance up eight points since
it last polled in January. It also showed new leader Stephen Harper
restoring traditional support for the party that had been lost during the
chaotic reign of Stockwell Day.
New Democrats under leader Alexa McDonough, who have been the least
aggressive of all parties in jumping into the ethics fray, also rose three
points since the last time EKOS tested popularity, the party's highest
level of support in four years.
The poll is bad news for the Progressive Conservatives, who are
down five points since January, with leader Joe Clark fighting speculation
that he is set to resign in advance of a mandatory party review of his
leadership in August.
The Bloc Québécois was essentially unchanged.
Nationally, EKOS found the Liberals had 45 per cent support among
decided voters, followed by the Alliance at 17 per cent, the Tories and
New Democrats at 13 per cent each and the Bloc at 8 per cent.
"No one party is particularly poised to take advantage of this
situation," said EKOS president Frank Graves.
The poll of 1,217 adults as carried out Monday through Wednesday
this week, right after Chrétien fired Eggleton and demoted Don Boudria.
EKOS says its poll results are valid plus or minus 2.8 percentage
points nationally, 19 times out of 20.
Graves said his polling found Canadians are concerned about the
ethical behaviour of their government, and he found a fatigue with the
Liberals and Chrétien setting in among the electorate.
However, Canadians still believe the level of corruption in their
federal government is lower than the level in other countries, such as the
United States, Italy and Russia, the poll found.
There are some disturbing signs for the government.
Over the last two weeks, Canadians' trust in government dipped
seven percentage points to a level where only 27 per cent they trust the
Thirty-seven per cent of those polled think "quite a few" of those
running the government are crooked and 54 per cent agreed the ethical
standards of the federal government have slipped badly in the past decade.
However, perception of the government as a whole, the bureaucracy,
the national media and provincial governments fared only marginally better
with all perceived to be corrupt by between 41 and 43 per cent of
Although 50 per cent of respondents who had heard of Chrétien's
promised ethics package either "strongly supported or somewhat supported"
it, 67 per cent said they heard nothing about it. |