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April 16, 2005
Tories Building Towards Majority In Canada

A new Ipsos poll shows that Canadians have begun to seriously lose faith with the Liberal Party and increasingly will turn to the Conservatives, the Globe & Mail reports this morning. The flood of testimony and evidence coming from the Gomery Inquiry have taken its toll on the Liberals, and the anti-government sentiment only shows sign of deepening:

The Conservatives are edging toward a majority as anger with the Liberals become more firmly entrenched and Stephen Harper begins to earn the trust of Canadians, even in wary Ontario, a new poll suggests.

An Ipsos-Reid survey conducted for The Globe and Mail and CTV between Tuesday and Thursday of this week as damning testimony from the Gomery inquiry into the sponsorship scandal made headlines and election speculation heated to a boil put the Conservatives at levels of support they have not seen since the election of 1988, when they swept the country.

The Tories' popularity rose six percentage points from April 8 to April 12, climbing to 36 per cent support among decided voters from 30 per cent. The Liberals, meanwhile, stagnated at 27 per cent and the New Democrats' popularity fell from 19 per cent to 15 per cent.

Initially, the numbers barely moved as Jean Brault's testimony went public, first here at CQ and later through the Canadian media. The shock of the extent to which money-laundering occurred probably translated into initial disbelief. However, as more witnesses have provided corroboration to the corruption scandal, the Conservatives have drawn more support. Even worse for Paul Martin and his teetering government, the groundswell of support for Stephen Harper's Tories looks to be accelerating, not plateauing. A six-point increase in four days is an astounding result, one which points to a new election sooner than perhaps anyone thought.

Oddly enough, more voters supported Martin's leadership over Harper (42-34), but trusted Harper more (40-35), and overwhelmingly acknowledged that Harper would clean up government better than Martin (41-26). Harper will wait to ensure that enough comes out of the Gomery Inquiry to be certain that the overriding issue of the election will be corruption, and not policy. However, the poll also shows one catch for that strategy: over half (53%) want to wait until the inquiry report gets released in the fall before holding an election. Only 11% want immediate elections, a surprisingly small number, considering the new popularity of the Tories.

What does this mean? It shows that Canadians take a complex view of the overall situation. Obviously, they have become disenchanted with their current government, and the longer Martin's crew remains in power, the worse it will probably get for the Liberals. So far, though, they're cautious about simply chucking the Grits and embracing the Tories. How long will they be patient before demanding a return to the hustings? I suspect that the electorate wants to wait for a tipping point or an absolute smoking gun that undeniably implicates Martin instead of Chrtien. Absent that, a new election will always hold some political risk for Harper.

My guess is still that we will see some stirrings of an election call around April 30, when Canadian taxes are due. If all the elements aren't in place by then, the Conservatives may still have to act soon to capture the most benefit from their new standing in the electorate. They've gained only at the expense of the Liberals' loss, and that kind of electoral gain usually proves fairly transient. Harper will have to make hay while the sun shines if he wants to wrest control of the government from Martin.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 16, 2005 7:40 AM

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Canada's Liberal Party is sinking faster than Wesley Clark's Presidential campaign. Well, maybe that's overstating it, but the Canadian Liberals are in real trouble, according to a new poll: Here are the figures for all five major parties (February 15-... [Read More]

Tracked on April 16, 2005 1:29 PM

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