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[Ottawa – April 27, 2011] – We update our seat projections based on our new three-day sample of nearly 3,000 potential voters. It continues to show a breathtakingly different Parliament in which the Conservative government is reduced to 131 seats but the muscular new NDP have 92 and the Liberals have 63. This new political math would produce a Parliament where the non-Bloc opposition would have 155 seats, a bare majority and 24 more seats than the Conservatives. With a clear advantage on popular vote and seats, what would happen? Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has stated that he requires a majority to withstand this threat and it appears that he is going to be denied that option. We have heard about the constitutional legalities of this situation but most agree that public opinion would be a crucial – if not the crucial – arbiter of this situation.

We have therefore asked the public how they would like the Governor General to respond if he were to confront this increasingly likely outcome. We asked respondents how they would like the Governor General to react should the new government be defeated in a confidence motion immediately following the May 2nd election. The two choices were to either call another election or ask the leader of the opposition to form a government. The results are very suggestive.

First of all, there are large numbers of the public (38%) who either don’t know or couldn’t decide. Obviously, this reflects the difficulty and gravity of the choice. Of the 62% who do offer a choice, the choice is pretty clear. By a margin of more than two-to-one (43% to 19%), the public opt for asking the leader of the opposition to form a new government. There are important variations on these answers depending on region, demographics, and political preference. It is, however, quite clear that if the present patterns were to continue, and the opposition were to decide to defeat the Conservative government’s budget, we could be looking at the astonishing prospect of a fresh new government in Ottawa led by Jack Layton. If anyone had trotted this scenario out as a likely outcome at the outset of this campaign, they would have been dismissed as a lunatic. Yet this unimaginable outcome is arguably the most likely outcome of the current political landscape.

Click here for the full report: issue_and_seat_projection_april_27_2011

31 comments to THE NEW REALLY BIG QUESTION – April 27, 2011

  • Shannon Powell

    I didn’t get to respond to the question posed above, but count me in as one of those who would want the GG to ask the opposition to form gov.

  • Susan Baskin

    I am completely disillusioned by Canadian politics; and don’t believe we have a democracy now, nor will we have one in the future.

    To answer the question, if you want one, I would prefer to have the GG ask the Leader of the Opposition to form a government. Another election would be too hard on all concerned, and it would also just open the way for more dirty tricks by the Conservatives.

    At least having the Liberals working with the NDP might be beneficial for all concerned, and we wouldn’t lose Michael Ignatieff’s great ideas, or the expertise of all the Liberal MPs.

    One Depressed Canadian.

  • Isn’t it ironic that so many people are willing to accept exactly what Harper has spent the entire campaign warning them against. But no one, NO ONE thought it would be a coalition led by the NDP. It’s as if Canada is having it’s own revolution at the ballot box.
    It’s an historic moment.
    No one in Canada should ever take their right to vote for granted. People in other parts of the world are fighting and dying for just this privelege. We can all effect real change just by placing an X on a piece of paper.

  • Maxwell Starr

    Harper has had a Minority Government fall twice, mainly for losing confidence of the House.

    An NDP-Liberal Only Coalition would be perfectly legal (unlike what Harper says), have the confidence of the Majority of the house and form a Majorty Government for the first time in over 5 years.

    The Prime Minister is appointed by the Governor General as the leader with the Confidence of the Majority of the House, not the Party with the most seats. This time, that leader will not be Stephen Harper – and I think that’s what the Majority of Canadians want.

  • Since it’s unlikely we’ll have proportional representation anytime soon, allowing the majority opposition to form a government would seem like the next best option in terms of real democracy. First past the post skewers the public will and the expression of that will through voting. This practical choice, given that another election would generate a scream of bloody murder, would do until we achieve the transformation of our electoral system most enlightened Canadians really do want. Jack? Who knows? but no doubt with a little help from his parliamentarian friends, he could get by. Thee’s a lively debate on this transformation at Rabble: Stable Majority Goverments and Electoral Reform | rabble.ca: http://bit.ly/lj19UR

  • Paul M.

    The othrr potential scenario I can see is that the Conservative Party might be able to talk the Libeals into letting them continue if they agree to a different Prime Minister. Depends how scared they are of the NDP.

  • Pat

    While a true coalition government may well be a great result from this election, I truly fear where this Nation would end up with a government formed by the ND and Liberal parties.

    As an Albertan, I foresee a major economic upheaval.

    I, for one, would liquidate my real assets, then apply to the Federal Government for leave to emigrate.

  • Catherine DeCarlo

    Absolutely go to the GG and ask for the leader of the opposition to form a government. The sooner that Mr. Harper and his Reformers leave power the better. However, I can see the same nonsense that he pulled when Martin had a minority in that he just yelled a lot and nothing got done.

  • Ron

    In Saskatchewan during 2008 215,000 people voted for the Conservative Party, 104,000 people voted for the New Democrrat Party, and 26,000 people voted for the Liberal Party.

    I was amazed to see that of the 14 seats – 13 went to the Comservative Party and 1 went to the Liberal Party, while the New Democratic Party had approximately 30% of the popular seats and should have gotten at least 4 seats. This is the problem that develops when there were 3 main parties of which two split the vote rather well. This is the problem with the Conservative Party. Mr. Harper feels that Saskatchewan is a place that he does not have to bother with and I believe that if more people come out to vote in this province the NDP could swing up to 5 or 6 seats.

    I believe people were getting tired of politics in 2008 after round one of Harper and did not tend to vote feeling that it would not count. I believe people will be sending a message this time and will take into account the New Democratic percent of the vote in 2008 and provide them with seats by getting out to vote and show our poor political process that we can make a difference.

  • Ross

    The simple truth of the matter is that Conservative supporters make up a minority. The data overwhelmingly supports that the vast majority of Canadians would rather see someone other than Harper at the helm, whereas you don’t see the same polarization with the other parties.

    I would definitely support a non-conservative coalition

  • Dave Gaga

    I am confused but not now. Today absolutely I am confident that democracy will survive by forming collation government which is head ache for CON Stephen Harper.

  • Nelson T.

    Who are you folks kidding?

    Harper is going to prorogue Parliament again, claim it’s for the good of the country. He knows he can do it.

    Plus, there’s another option the GG has that you folks have seemed to forget: he can tell Harper to go back to the HoC and try again… and again… and again… until he wins the confidence of the House. After all, he chose the GG, and it would be in his best interests to do so. It’s not like his political base would mind, they’d jump off a cliff for him.

    He can blame the stalemate on the Opposition, and all they can do is keep filing non-confidence motions whilst the people get angrier and angrier.

  • Victor

    What the Country needs is a true redistribution of votes so the West is not left out of Canada. Under the current distribution Eastern Canada has an unfair proportion of them. This alone would change the seat count in Parliament. And would stop this discussion all together.

    Trust everyone wakes up soon to realise we are in a world wide recession where the Left of Centre is disappearing due to overspending caused by giving into every interest group. MR Layton is practicing divisive politics. This might be good for him and the NDP but it is not good for the country. Didn’t we already have twenty years of fighting for Quebec to remain within Canada. The country cannot stand any more of this as he proposes.

    Watch the West’s anger if a Coalition ever comes about.

  • Philippe Theriault

    Stephen Harper spent a lot of time and money attacking Ignatieff. Looks like it has worked.

    It would be interesting if it has also backfired. Harper the great tactician out of office because of his own tactics. Live by the sword as they say.

    The GG should ask the leader of Opposition to try to form a government. It’s how the Parliamentary system works. Nevermind if you “feel” it is unfair. If you aren’t happy, we don’t live in a dictatorship, you can vote the that party out of office next time. It’s how our system works. There will always be another election in less that 4 years. No need to fabricate a constitutional crisis where there is none.

  • Reg

    The best government for Canada is a coalition , but only
    after the Liberals have dumped Ignatieff and installed Bob Rae as leader and…deputy PM….
    Next election will see the liberals back in power with Rae as PM……

  • Liveware Problem

    Nelson T, you’re mistaken. If Harper fails to win the confidence of the new HoC he must resign or ask for an election. He couldn’t just pretend that the vote didn’t happen. If Johnston doesn’t agree to call a new election, Harper would have to resign. If he refused to resign, Johnston would have to fire him.

  • Liveware Problem

    Just to add – if Johnston refused to fire Harper, the Queen herself could fire Johnston and appoint someone who would. All this stuff is pretty far out, though – I think Harper will go quietly if he was defeated on the throne speech. He might not even wait to be defeated in the House before resigning, if the election gives enough seats to the Liberals and NDP and the two parties look like they’re willing and able to form a stable majority coalition.

  • Ian Backlund

    To read some of the hardcore Conservative and Albertan comments on here, one would think that armed revolt will follow any outcome that does not include Steven Harper as Prime Minister. Frankly with a base like that, the Conservatives ought to bow out of the election all together and work to educate their followers about democracy. 65% of Canadians have put up with a PM they didn’t want for five years now. If a new PM comes out of this election, it is inherent in the system that you 35% who support Harper grin and bear it, as us 65% that don’t have done. Thanks, and for the guy who will sell his stuff and seek leave to emigrate: there is the door, why wait?

  • Andy

    I agree that if the 2 opposition parties have a majority of seats (155 or more) then they should form the government – either by coalition or with the NDP & Libs co-operating. If they are less than a majority and therefore need BQ support, I don’t think they should do it. Either way, I would have preferred to have the Libs as the main governing party with NDP support (instead of the other way) but the main thing is to get rid of Harper and the corrupt Conservatives. If that means Layton as PM, I can live with that. ABC !!!!

  • Fred F

    Comment #13 above is interesting and typical. When the Right doesn’t do well, they claim things were undemocratic. In a democracy, seats are distributed by population. If Eastern Canada has more seats then that is because they have more people. More people = more seats = democracy.
    By the way, if there is an issue it is that the rural areas have a disproportionate number of seats because of the relatively huge size of urban ridings.
    If seats were distributed more fairly, even with the first-past-the-post system, there would be more progressive MPs as large urban areas tend to vote more Liberal and NDP.

    As for overspending… I pause for a moment and then say: the Liberals left a surplus and even BEFORE the economic crisis the Conservatives had spent us into a deficit.

    If the West gets angry, think about how the East has felt these past five years.

  • Naveed

    I am a staunch Liberal and will always remain one–not blindly, but due to my liberal convictions, and the fact that this party is most balanced and has favourable policies for the average Canadian.

    Now if your scenario for the result of his election is accurate, and it seems increasingly accurate, Jack Layton will form a coalition government with Liberals.
    I am averse to Liberals joining in such a coalition as it endangers our independence and unity as a separate and distinct political force than the socialists.

    However given the distasteful phenomenon that is Stephen Harper, I am quite willing and even eager for an NDP coalition, if the choice otherwise is even a continued minority with Harper.
    Nothing—I say NOTHING can be as detrimental for this country as the present Harper government, and don’t even talk of a majority for these right wing agenda people.

  • Roger

    What we need is not more seats for the west but proportional representation. What tires me is people like you ignoring the 30-50 percent of us Albertans who vote for other parties. You sound just like talk show radio in Alberta, which often talks as if the Rutherford audience or “citizens of Adler Nation” represent us all. If we had proportional representation, people like you might stop seeing the west as a homogenous Conservative voting block. Conservatives for you do not speak for all of us, and often not even a majority. So if you really want democracy and better representation, push for proportional representation.

    And to Pat, fine leave if you want. If you really will leave if your party doesn’t win, then one really does wonder about your resiliance as a civic citizen. Come on, we’ve had left leading parties leading various parts of the country and the those parts haven’t collapsed. Canada, including the various parts that have had NDP and Liberal governments for long stretches, remains economically strong and one of the greatest places to live. And an argument can be made that much of what makes Canada a great place for us to live is the result of left leaning policies.

  • Hamish Wilson

    As an Albertan and a westerner, I would look forward to any form of an NDP government, either through a NDP-Liberal coalition or under their own merit.

    As a rural voter I want a party that will actually defend real Canadian farmers instead of wanting to scrap the wheat-board, as a avid computer user I want to have a party that would not make ripping a legally purchased music CD that has copyright protection on it so that I can play it on my system equivalent to theft, as a person who will soon enter the job market I want a party that will actually make sure we have jobs that are not simply shipped overseas. And as a Canadian I want a party that will defend our sovereignty and not make us a colony again, only this time to the United States.

    At least I hope the NDP can top their previous record under Broadbent. At best the skies the limit. Just make sure to get out and vote on May 2nd.

  • There are a number of possible scenarios which will play out after this historic election.
    Either Harper accepts the inevitable and resgins right after the election or waits to lose a Vote of Confidence in the House or he tries to cling to power at all costs.
    Either way its a Lose-Lose situation.
    Having bet the house (no pun intended) on a majority or nothing he will almost certainly have to resign as party leader.
    The Liberals have two choices.
    They can prop up the Conservatives and lose all credibility or they can join the New Democrats in a coalition or some kind of governing agreement.
    So for the Liberals it’s a Lose-Win situation.
    For Jack Layton and the NDP he just has to wait until the scenarios play themselves out. Either Harper resigns quickly or clings to power and possibly forces another election, with all but his most ardent supporters turning away in disgust. A Conservative-Liberal alliance or coalition would be the kiss of death and probably destroy the Liberal Party.
    Either way for Layton it’s a Win-Win scenario.
    So, unless there is a dramatic shift in voter intentions over the weekend, Layton will be PM by this fall.

  • Bruce

    Since when does Alberta = “The west” From looking at these polls, Harper has made a regional party that does not represent the country. The Conservative party support in the rest of the west is eroding to the NDP. Harper has completely alienated Quebec and Newfoundland and is fighting to find takers in the rest of the East. The conservatives could now be enjoying a majority under different leadership. Few people outside Alberta trust his secretive style. What would he do with a majority? A minority government or coalition of any stripe is preferable to a Harper majority.

  • Jack

    First government amongst all commonwealth countries to be filed for contempt of Parliament. Enough said?

  • Joe

    Roger: you are right on… I’ve lived in Alberta all my life. I have seen this province ignore the voices of the many (non-conservative) Albertans ALL MY LIFE, 48 years!

    Many Albertans hate (and i use that term lightly) how Quebec always uses the Separation card, but as an Albertan driving down QE2 and have seen the signs (when we had a Liberal federal government) calling for separation in the farmers fields, and talks of separation every time Alberta doesn’t get it’s way seems a lot like a spoiled brat who’s bawling when they don’t get that expensive toy the toy store.

    Pat… I’ve put up with your “#$#@” provincial governments for my whole life… only for the betterment of a few. But I have stayed to fight for the rights of the less fortunate (seniors being first and foremost) in our province to the best of my ability… and all you can only pull out is the “I’m leaving card”? Shame on you, that’s a true coward.

  • paul

    “The othrr potential scenario I can see is that the Conservative Party might be able to talk the Libeals into letting them continue if they agree to a different Prime Minister. ”

    I think that’s the last thing the Liberals would want. I think they’d rather have the Conservatives stick with Harper and have him drag them down, rather than deal with a new leader without baggage.

  • Bill T

    All the rhetoric above is how much Harper is disliked and very little emphasis on what was presented in the last budget plus we need representation by population, which Manning pushed for years and was labelled a right wing radical. We had to put with years of Liberal governments that had far less than 50% of the vote but that is our system. The real fight should be on the budget and really, what parts of the budget were negative for Canada? We have just gone through the worst recession since the great depression and so far our country has escaped the pitfalls that so many countries have suffered. Lucky according to the comments here In fact the deficit reported for February was well below esimates. As far as the contempt of parliament goes please! There was absolutely no one more contemptible than the majority Chretien liberals but guess what it is not possible to find a majority party in contempt of parliament. As far as policies are concerned I am extremely concerned about the cap & trade that Layton pushes in eastern Canada and not western Canada. It has been suggested that the wealth transfer from this would be worse than what had been attempted with the NEP. This is only a guess but I don’t think Alberta will allow it and there is a very good chance Saskatchewan won’t either. Both these provinces control there resources,this is not a federal jurisdiction.

  • c boutilier

    Although coalition is a new idea in Canadian politics, it is working elsewhere. Perhaps these changes in the direction of the popular vote has set up the perfect storm. A coalition led by Jack Layton encompassing NDP and Liberal parties. We now need a coalition with all of the checks and balances that this entails. Ignatieff will likely walk if he cannot be the leader, and I believe that the party will say good riddance as he has decimated the liberal vote with his sub standard leadership skills. At this point, I am a Conservative by nature, who will vote Liberal for the local MLA, only because there is little chance of Ignatieff leading the country to disaster.

  • Pat

    For those of you who have responded to my statement:

    Please read it carefully. I do not vote conservative. I am a socialist at heart, but not with borrowed money.

    My comment is in regards to a coalition government with the NDP forming the majority in the coalition, with the Liberals forming the rump.

    Rather, I would love to see a coalition formed by the conservatives and Green Party.

    So far, I have heard much from the NDP and the Liberals about what they would spend money on. This money would “come from cuts to the conservative spending or reversals of tax reductions”.

    Canada is in a very special position financially at this moment. Canada is leading the world out of this most recent recession. Much of this is from the economic reins that the conservatives have held.

    By leaving money in the hands of people, it allows people to control the recovery of this Nation. Taking this same money and filtering it through government dilutes its value. There are too many bureaucrats to properly control this money. They all have staff who wish to be paid for their “services”.

    Filtering funds to Ottawa so that the government can decide where the money should be spent removes the people from democracy.

    I would much rather pay all my taxes close to home. To my Municipality or Province in essence. Then the Federal government would request monies from the Provinces to fund truly National needs.

    While I am dreaming, I would reform the Senate. I would remove the current Senators, then rebuild it with the Premier from each Province and Territory and the leader of the Provincial or Territorial opposition. They would sit for a period of 3 weeks twice a year except in extraordinary circumstances when the Prime Minister could call the Senate to sit.

    What does all this accomplish? It brings the power closer to the People. Isn’t this what we all want?

    “Seeking leave to emigrate” is suggestive that such a coalition would rapidly approach a Marxist regime wherein one would be required to obtain permission to leave the boundaries of the Nation.