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April 9, 2005
Adscam: Liberals Losing Ground -- And MPs

New polling in the wake of the explosive testimony by Jean Brault shows that the Liberal Party in Canada may have done what some thought impossible -- given new hope to the Tories. An Ipsos poll for G&M/CTV shows the Liberal lead shrinking to four points nationwide, a drop of seven points in less than eight weeks:

The Ipsos-Reid poll, conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV, found 34 per cent of respondents across Canada would vote for Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals, compared to 30 per cent for the Tories. That's a dramatic shrink in the Liberal lead, from an 11-percentage point gap in February to only four points this week.

The Liberals fell further behind the Bloc Qubcois in Quebec, and the Conservatives almost wiped out the governing party's big lead in Ontario, the key swing region where shifts in support can cause changes in government.

The Ipsos-Reid poll interviews began Tuesday, as rumours of explosive testimony under publication ban at the Gomery Commission were reported in the media and on the internet. A quarter of the interviews were conducted Thursday night, after the ban was lifted and the details of advertising executive Jean Brault's damning testimony hit television airwaves.

In Ontario, where government control hinges, the drop has been even more dramatic. The Liberals held a commanding fifteen-point lead in February, but have now dropped to a four-point lead there as well, which barely puts it out of the margin of error for the poll (3.1%). In the first blush of Brault's testimony, Canadians appear to be questioning their loyalty to a political party that all accounts thus far shows its abuse of government funds to further its own electoral successes. Nor will the upcoming testimony of Paul Coffin or Chuck Guit likely put Canadians into a forgiving mood. The likelihood of a further drop in polling looks substantial.

Will this result in a new election? Paul Martin's government called on Stephen Harper to forswear any no-confidence vote until after the Gomery Inquiry releases its report, but that should hardly make any difference. No one thinks that the Conservatives would halt the inquiry, so an election should have little effect on the end result. Besides, the Conservatives will want more of the testimony out in the public domain before calling an election in order to ensure that the electorate gets thoroughly enraged before voting.

At least one Liberal MP doesn't plan on waiting for the election, however. Alberta MP David Kilgour announced that he may defect to the Conservative Party out of "disgust":

David Kilgour, who represents the Edmonton-Beaumont riding, told the Calgary Sun on Friday that he is already being courted by the Conservatives to switch sides. He said he hasn't made a decision yet, but will decide soon.

The Liberal party is seen as looking on the public trust as a vulture looks on a dying calf. Here we are, a G7 country, acting like a northern banana republic. What country is seen as more politically corrupt than us at the moment? Kilgour said, speaking from Ottawa. ...

Kilgour, who was once a Tory but was bounced from the party in 1990 for opposing the GST, won his seat for the Liberals in the last federal election by a slim 134 votes.

He speculated that if he runs again as a Liberal, he'll be toast.

If you draw up a thing to make people want to vomit, this is it, Kilgour said about the details emerging from the sponsorship inquiry. I have no desire for people to throw me out on my ear.

If the news gets bad enough out of the Gomery Inquiry, perhaps a new election won't be necessary. Enough MPs might decide to switch parties to avoid the inevitable voter backlash to change governments. If the upcoming testimony provides as many new and scandalous revelations as Brault did, that unlikely scenario might soon appear more and more plausible.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 9, 2005 10:41 PM

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