Mulroney reputation still suffers
Canadians see Tory government ethics as worst, EKOS poll shows
Tim Harper
OTTAWA — Even as their trust and faith in the Chrétien Liberals is being eroded, Canadians still believe the former government of Brian Mulroney set the standard for unethical behaviour in Ottawa, a new poll indicates.

Exactly half of those polled by EKOS Research Associates equated Jean Chrétien's ethical standards with those of Mulroney, while 15 per cent told pollsters they thought the third-term Liberals had worse ethical standards.

But 29 per cent of respondents said they thought the Chrétien Liberals, despite a litany of ethical woes that has increased cynicism about government, had higher ethical standards than Mulroney and his Tories.

EKOS president Frank Graves said the Chrétien government is still viewed more positively than the Mulroney administration by a margin of 2-1.

"If Mulroney thinks the Liberals are squalid, Canadians still believe Mulroney to be more squalid," he said.

The poll of 1,217 Canadians was conducted for The Star, the CBC and La Presse from Monday to Wednesday, just as former prime minister Mulroney launched an attack on the government.

Mulroney told a Halifax fundraiser Wednesday the Chrétien government will be remembered for scandal and "squalid misconduct."

"When people remember Mr. Trudeau for the Constitution, myself for free trade, or Mr. Pearson for the flag, this is going to be what the Chrétien government is going to be remembered for," Mulroney told his Nova Scotia audience.

"There is no free trade, there is no Constitution, there is no big ticket item there. There is just this misconduct.''

During two terms in office, Mulroney had 10 cabinet minister resign under ethical clouds, ranging from his industry minister Sinclair Stevens who was found guilty of conflict of interest, to his defence minister, Robert Coates, who quit after visiting a German strip bar, to his housing minister, Alan Redway, forced to quit after joking about having a gun as he tried to board a flight at the Ottawa airport.

Those most likely to think the Chrétien government is dirtier live in Western Canada, never completed high school or are at the highest income level.

Those who believe the Mulroney government still sets the standard for unethical government behaviour are male, young, live in Ontario and are university educated.

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