SES has just released a new poll. Nice to see a poll that relates to pre-budget and post-budget periods with sufficient time lapse to neutralize the impact of the media coverage bounce. Also nice to see nothing much has changed since Jan 2006 election results with respect to the relative position of the parties. Decima is a bit different and the Cons love to jump on one result and call it a trend. All other recent polling shows about the same-old-same-old results as in Jan 2006 and this SES poll.
At least Dion has maintained the Liberal position and the Cons are still unable to capitalize on the power inherent in holding office. In fact they are tied within the polls margin of error, if you want to take an optimistic view. Harper only wants an election if he can appear to be pushed into it. Give us a year more to see who Dion is and capable of, the same goes for what May stands for and if Layton can escape the gravitational pull of the NDP past.
The Cons have been able to buy an 8 point bounce in Quebec for about $4.0B in booty if you include the aerospace $900M announced this week. How long will that last with Charest saying it is not enough and a Quebec minority meaning they will be in constant campaign mode there.
The other regional results are telling too. The other key battle front is Ontario which sees the NDP and Greens eroding support and going from the highest uncommitted vote to the average...all of this repositioned support is split between the two major parties who are now neck and neck.
The West is most interesting where the Liberals have a 5 positive point bounce and the Cons are static and only 6 points up on the Libs. What is going on there? The West got nothing from the budget except dismay that Harper has turned into the kind of Quebec pandering politician that spawned the Reform Party in the first place. How much can he alienate his base before he starts to see them staying home or sending a harsher message over his CPC leadership status? That grumpiness about Harper is just below the surface...expect Ted and Link Byfield to be the lightening rods to hunt Harper down on this front.
Poor old Atlantic Canada can't quite grasp the changes or is it that they have the best contrarian perspective on what things are happening? They keep the Cons at bay with tepid but no change in support and they reduce Lib support giving it to the NCP and the Greens and then have over a 50% bounce in uncommitted voters at 11%. For those Maritimers who can't figure out if Harper is going to "punch or bore" them - relax - he is going to do both to you. You count even less in Harper's sense of Canada than the West does, meaning he does not understand nor does he care much about your wants and wishes as Canadians.
In conclusion nothing has changed in the minds of Canadians in the past 15 months as to keeping a minority government or if it is time for a new majority...but 64% of Canadians in an Angus Reid study says now it not the time for an election.
One big shift we have seen happen since Harper took power. We have a Prime Minister who has demonstrated very forcefully that he and his PMO is the absolute controlling factor in his Party. We also can see that his agenda is to achieve personal political power over the country with Harper as Canada's Cromwell. He will do this at any cost, be it cash, conflict, conspiracy or our national sense of social cohesion.
An Ipsos Reid study recently indicated 65% of Canadians felt they did no know Stephen Harper as a person...in other words who he is and what he believes in and stands for. This is after over 5 years of seeing him in federal political leadership roles. Well in the past 6 months we have seen his tactics from broken campaign promises (Income Trusts and Equalization for example) to hypocrisy on others (wait time guarantees to disregarding the need for child care spaces), to buying Quebec support (the Budget) and a bullying political personality (personal attack ads to cheap-shot Taliban supporter accusations) in how he tries to marginalize and intimidate people.
We can now tell much more about who Harper really is. To my mind he is much scarier than we thought than even in the 2004 election. The key questions for Canadians about Harper is do we trust him? Does he "get the country" and does he have a serious grasp of the critical issues of our time - like the environment? Can we rely on him to keep his promises? Given his obvious hunger for power do we feel he is the right "fit" to be our Prime Minister with a majority government given all the discretion and power of that office? Does he have the kind of character qualities we want to see govern us as a modern mature citizen based democracy?
These polls show Canadians have not yet made up their minds on how they would answer these questions. I have. My answer is no on all counts.