Reboot Alberta

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dion Gets Some Benefit of the Doubt

The Ipsos-Reid post convention poll shows Dion has some traction in Ontario and Quebec. Just as one swallow does not make a summer, one poll does not make a trend.

Dion is getting some benefit of the doubt in BC and Alberta with a 41/35 and 39/33 favourable over unfavourable rating respectively. The sleeper statistic is the “Don’t know enough about the person” shows 24% in BC and Ontario and 27% in Alberta. He obviously needs to spend some “quality” time in the west between now and the next election.

The Liberals are not out of the penalty box yet either, nor should they be. When asked if the Liberals “deserve to be elected and govern under the leadership of Stephane Dion nationally 44% agreed and 50% disagreed. In BC 56% disagreed and 66% said no in Alberta. Ontario and Quebec were ambivalent at about 50/50 but the Maritimes liked him with 54% agreeing the Liberals with Dion deserved to govern and only 37% disagreeing.

The next federal election will be a contest between two leaders who have two different visions, two different ideologies and different perspectives on the role of government. It will be less about “charisma and style” more about policy and ideas. Wahtever ballot box issue emerges it will be influenced by Canadian's perceptions about the characters and trustworthiness of the two major party leaders.

The sub-plot to the personality/character drama will be the environment. That will be the platform where the battle is staged and fought the hardest. It will vary in content and context in different regions across the country but it will be pervasive.

The environment as a major decision driving political issue will give the Greens a credibility boost and may actually generate some seats this time. They will get a chance to set the agenda and the tone of the debate. They will have to be able to embrace the integration of a growing economy and enhanced environmental outcomes to be successful. Picking one over the other will set them back, and maybe way back.

This next federal campaign may relegate the NDP to the sidelines. They have to find a resonating issue that claims and frames their place in the race. It they fail, this election will be the begininng of the Greens as the new Third Party. The NDP risk in this election is that they devolve into a rump and becoming a relic as a federal political force.

The unofficial campaign has started and the race for the hearts and minds of Canadians is definitely on. Everything out of Ottawa will be done and designed through an election lens by all the political players all the time. In the short term expect more heat then light.

Harper picked his spot for the last election. He does not have that luxury this time. He may still try to engineer his defeat with timing and an issue that will be more propitious and firm up his base. He can do this by having the Bloc “force” him into an earlier election over our role in Afghanistan.

Alberta politicos’ fresh off the PC leadership contest can catch their breath over Christmas but we better be ready to roll early in the New Year.


  1. Anonymous11:12 am

    I don't think that the Green Party will win any seats in the next federal election. If they do, it will be just their leader, in a hand picked riding with a ton of resources put behind her. As for them becoming a new "3rd party" and relegating the NDP to obscurity? I really don't see that happening. Keep in mind that the NDP's "core" is always good for at least 10 seats or so, in the strongest labour ridings around the country. That alone will keep them ahead of the Greens in this next election... never mind the fact that the NDP actually have better environmental policy than the Greens.

  2. Anonymous12:22 pm

    I am saying the NDP "brand" is getting fuzzy and increasingly lacking definition in peoples consciousness. They have to change that and quickly because the younger generation shift toward the Greens has started.

    While the two "Steves" do battle on the big screen the smaller screen fight between Jack and Elizabeth will be just as fascinating - just not as immediately consequential to the future of the country.

    I hope we get a few Green members but accept it is a stretch this time.

    If the last two leadership campaigns have taught us anything, it is that anything is possible.

  3. Anonymous8:54 pm

    As I stated before, I believe the NDP will be able to successful attack the liberal's dismal record on the environment.

  4. Anonymous9:59 pm

    Harper better hope there isn't an election this winter or spring. His Quebec strategy so far has flopped - the nation resolution hasn't increased his support in Quebec; they aren't going to be dumb enough to vote for him if he gives Quebec a bunch of money in a pre-election budget - the Bloc will take the credit and demand more. People in Ontario have always been luke warm to Harper anyway. If Dion doesn't flop he's going to do better than Martin in Ontario, which means that the Tories will do worse. Predictions for 2007: Liberals will win a decent minority government, or a majority if the NDP can't acquire new relevance. Charest will beat Boisclair, at least in the popular vote. Boisclair seems like he's fairly shallow. He's not a man of substance like Levesque, Parizeau, Bouchard or Landry were, which they all were, even if I disagree with their politics.

  5. Anonymous11:09 pm

    Wow ap, that is REALLY wishful thinking. If Harper does not believe he can win an election, it won't be called. Quebec is no gimmie with Dion at the realm - he is ridiculed in the province. As well, the Ontario numbers show that the Cons have had steady support - they have the machine and money to get the votes out. And given that this would be the third election in a short time, I don't believe that the turnout rate will be very high, which will only help the Cons.

    A Con minority victory would be an absolute disaster for the libs. Cdns would put the blame on the libs for forcing an election with no resulting change.

  6. Anonymous1:29 am

    Well, we'll see who is right. Harper doesn't necessarily get to decide when the election will be. I'll take Ontarians long history of voting federally for the Liberals over the Conservatives "machine" any day. I've never been convinced that "machine and money" matter that much unless the election is very close. Plus, it's not like the Liberals aren't good at fighting elections and are more capable of getting ready in short order than Harper was in 04 or Day was in 2000. The Liberals are still amongst the most successful political parties in history. It's going too far to say that Dion is ridiculed in Quebec. He's not liked in certain elite segments of society, but he's not disliked by your average Jean Q. Let's review the record: The Clarity Act was supported by most Quebecers. The Liberals support went up in the election held months afterwards. He's not connected to the sponsorship scandal. He has potential for growth or to at least consolidate federalist support behind the Liberals which is really all he needs to do to win 25 to 35 seats in Quebec. If the Liberals do that then they are already looking in great shape before one considers possible changes in Ontario, and B.C. Harper has been PM for a year, in that time he's faced an official opposition that has been fighting amongst themselves, and he comes out at 32% support. He's not increased his support in a year as PM, and he's had every political tool at his disposal.


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