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Canadians less pessimistic about economy/more conservative about government spending

Following last week’s movement upward in the polls, Canada’s federal Conservatives have solidified an impressive, potentially majority-producing lead among Canadians, with the Liberals now mired at the same historic lows under Michael Ignatieff that they suffered under former leader Stéphane Dion.

Meanwhile, Canadians are getting more optimistic – or at least less pessimistic – about the economy. They also are showing a decisive preference for smaller over larger government, as Canada appears to be emerging from the recession.

“All of this bodes well for Harper’s Tories and poorly for Ignatieff’s Liberals,” said Frank Graves, President of EKOS Research Associates. “Canadians are beginning to think the worst is over with the recession, which should play to the government’s favour. They are also opting strongly for a small-c conservative view of government.”

At the moment, the Conservatives are comprehensively ahead of the Liberals nationwide. They not only lead by more than 50 percentage points in Alberta, but by 36 in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 16 in British Columbia, 13 in Ontario, eight in the Atlantic provinces, and they are in a virtual tie in Quebec (though both well behind the Bloc Québécois there).

“The Liberals are under siege everywhere they turn,” said Graves. “Even New Canadians, under-25 Canadians, and the university-educated appear to be turning against them. Most stunning of all, the Conservatives now have a lead among women of almost 11 percentage points.”

Traditionally, governments suffer during recessions, and take solace from signs of recovery. At the moment, Canadians are still more cautious than many economists. Nearly half think Canada is still in a “mild recession” – but that is nonetheless down 10 percentage points from January. The number thinking we are in a period of growth has jumped from just 3% in January to nearly 20%.

Some might have imagined that Canadians would emerge from this recession with a taste for government spending and more activist government. Not at all.

At the moment, a chastened Canadian public prefers a low-tax, low-service government over a higher-taxing government with a higher level of services by a margin of nearly two-to-one.

“For the moment, everything seems to be rolling the Conservatives’ way,” said Graves. “For the Liberals – who were neck-and-neck with the Conservatives less than two months ago, and were edging ahead in the spring – this looks like the harbinger of a potential disaster.”

“Of course, in the past, the Conservatives have had trouble maintaining themselves in majority territory for more than a few weeks,” said Graves. “Previously, there has usually been a pullback among voters at the idea of a Stephen Harper majority. It is early to say whether Harper’s more prime ministerial image lately, combined with the humanizing touch at the piano keyboard, will make a difference this time. But each week that passes at these levels of support suggests a more durable shift may be underway.”

“For the Liberals to reverse their fortunes, there may need to be either a dramatic change in their strategy or some major, unexpected setback to the ruling Conservatives. Right now, the Liberals are on a glide-path to losing their status as a potential government-in-waiting.”

Click here for the full report: 0779-full-report-_october-15_

1 comment to TORIES CONSOLIDATE LEAD – October 15, 2009

  • Donald

    We are definitely weak in leadership in Canada. Leadership means to leasd and be able to acept criticism, (positive) suggestions from other people in other political parties. Instead of saying they are no good for our country take the time to evaluate these. And if a member of your party disagrees with you, getting rid of that person is not leadership, it is dictatorship. What has the PC party done for the Alantic Provinces??? We are in the process of a provincial election in N.B. If candidates would stop belittleling each other and stick to politics… What are we to do when a poltician keeps breaking his word?? I’m not a pessimist, they’re are good young and old polititians who have good ideas, but they’re hands are tied, they cannot express what they really think for fear of…
    Thank you and have a good day