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[Ottawa – April 22, 2010] – As quickly as it appeared, the Guergis affair appears to be disappearing as a political factor. It’s not that Canadians aren’t noticing or don’t think it’s serious. About 40% of Canadians aren’t following this issue, but the rest are with at nearly one in five paying close attention. So not as riveting in the rest of the country as it is North of the Queensway in Ottawa, but it certainly is registering with a large number of voters.

Here is where it gets more confusing.

Of the 60% of Canadians who are following the affair, they don’t think it’s a mere peccadillo. Only about 11% think it’s business as usual and a strong plurality of around 45% think it’s “serious”. Non Conservative supporters and Quebeckers are most likely to see it as serious.

When asked about the fallout, there is also a sense that this has been a serious problem. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, the aware public believe this has had a negative impact on their confidence in the Conservative government. By a slightly larger margin, this affair has worsened public impressions of politicians in general (which were pretty negative to begin with). So voters are noticing, they don’t think it’s a trivial thing, and they decisively believe it is having a corrosive impact on confidence in the Tory government.

All good news for the opposition in general and the Liberals in particular who have been leading the charge on this issue? Er, no! Paradoxically the Liberals have actually fallen back from last week.

So why might this be the case (despite public belief that this matter is damaging to the Conservatives)? It may well be that the voters are tired of what appears to be a prurient obsession with the personal lives of a couple who are encountering serious difficulties. It may be that the electorate are looking for a more dignified and elevated approach from Parliament (and the media) and less of a poor man’s northern TMZ. It may also be a case of one of those well worn aphorisms about shooting messengers or avoiding fleas.

Click here for the full report: full_report_april_22

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