Twenty-two months have passed since Canadians gave Liberals the heave-ho after Adscam, and apparently, Conservative government suits them well. Before the Sponsorship Programme corruption scandal brought down Paul Martin and his administration, the Liberals painted Stephen Harper as a radical with hidden agendas that would shock Canadians. Now, however, almost two-thirds of them are only shocked to find they like him:
With the political battlefield of Parliament returning and with weapons drawn it would appear the largest number of Canadians (63%) believe that Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the ‘right stuff’ of leadership qualities and skills compared to all other federal party leaders. This compares with NDP Leader Jack Layton at 57% and BQ Leader Gilles Duceppe at 63% in his province of Québec (15% nationally), and Opposition and Liberal leader Stephan Dion with the lowest ratings of all of the Federal leaders at 36%. …
Given that the Liberals and Conservatives have the highest levels of support among voters across Canada, respondents were asked who they would choose between if they could only vote for either Stephen Harper or Stephan Dion in an election. The results were similar to the leadership attribute ratings noted above: Mr. Harper fared the best with 56% support versus Mr. Dion at 35%.
The news gets even better for Harper on voter enthusiasm. He garners 60% when voters are asked whether they could vote for him, the only national party leader to gain a majority. Even in the Liberal stronghold of Ontario, 58% of voters feel comfortable voting for Harper, while Dion can’t even find a majority (49%). Dion gets 60% in Atlantic Canada, but Harper scores 57% there as well.
Harper beats the field in negatives as well. Only 37% of Canadians say that they could never vote for the current Prime Minister, while a majority of 51% oppose Dion in those strong terms. The NDP leader, Jack Layton, gets 50% negative marks. Even in Ontario, Harper’s negatives only get to 38%. That’s actually nine points lower than Dion’s Ontario numbers, indicating a huge problem for the Grits in their key province.
It seems that Canadians have become very comfortable with their Prime Minister, across most demographic groups and regions. Dion, on the other hand, appears to have worn thin already. Adscam may have created a long-term shift in the direction of Canadian politics, and Harper may have been the right man at the right time. At least no one’s fooled about his “hidden agendas” any longer.