Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New AR Poll: 9-pt Conservative Lead

Angus-Reid released a new poll yesterday. While it shows a bigger gap than most of the polls we've seen lately, it also shows very little movement from Angus-Reid's last poll at the end of May.At 36%, the Conservatives are up one point over that last poll. The Liberals are steady at 27% and the New Democrats are up one to 20%.

The Bloc Québécois is up one to 10% and the Greens are down one to 7%.

This is a very good poll for the NDP. They're up four points to 33% in British Columbia, only two points behind the Conservatives at 35% (down eight). The Liberals are steady at 16% while the Greens are up two to 13%.

In Ontario, the Conservatives take three points from the Liberals and lead with 38%. The Liberals are lagging behind with 31%. The NDP is steady at 20%.

The Bloc leads in Quebec with 39% (up two), well ahead of the Liberals at 24% (up one) and the Conservatives at 19% (up one). The NDP is down one to 15%.

The Liberals are up 10 points in Atlantic Canada and lead with 50%. The NDP is down six points there to 16%. The Conservatives lead in Alberta with 62% and the Prairies with 55% (up seven).

The Conservatives win 66 seats in the West, 54 in Ontario, 7 in Quebec, and 7 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 134.

The Liberals win 9 seats in the West, 34 in Ontario, 15 in Quebec, and 25 in Atlantic Canada for a total of 83.

The Bloc wins 51 seats in Quebec.

The NDP wins 20 seats in the West, 18 in Ontario, and 2 in Quebec for a total of 40.

The poll also looked at some personal opinions people had of the leaders. The most important result was the approval/disapproval rating. Jack Layton's is the best, with a split of 31% to 32%. Stephen Harper's spread is 31% to 48%, and Michael Ignatieff's is a woeful 14% to 53%.

This poll confirms a few other things we've been seeing lately, namely that the G20 did not hurt the Conservatives and that they've moved ahead in Ontario. It also serves to confirm Bloc strength in Quebec.

These results are very similar to the 2008 election. If things continue like this through the summer, I don't see how we would have an election in the fall. It would be a waste of time and money for all involved.

55 comments:

  1. Éric,

    It's rather ironic that the political stalemate is likely to continue at least for the next year UNLESS one of two things happen:

    a) this Conservative government comes up with innovative policies that strike the fancy of the electorate -- not very likely since this Prime Minister has clearly signalled that the government's main priority will be moving back to balance;

    OR

    b) the Liberals speed up the final packaging of our new Red Book -- it has to contain at least one doozy (in spite of our limited margin of manoeuver insofar as the country's finances are concerned).

    Failing that, both parties will remain in the political equivalent of "No-Man's Land" and that is certainly not good for either of the major parties...

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  2. Éric: If things continue like this through the summer, I don't see how we would have an election in the fall. It would be a waste of time and money for all involved.

    If MPs sit down on the same sides of the House after an election, it truly would be a pointless exercise.

    If the Liberals are willing to lead a coalition, though, that's another matter entirely. By Parliamentary tradition they can't do so without an election, regardless of what the other parties might agree to. However, a new Parliament would be a completely different situation.

    Other factors are important too. What is Ignatieff's sell-by date? Your answer to that may affect your writ drop prediction.

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  3. B.C. Liberals Trail by 23 Points:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Liberals+popularity+continues+slip+after+poll+says/3268673/story.html

    Waiting to see the first polls out of Ontario. Don't expect the reaction will be anything like that in BC>

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  4. Ron and John you two sound like you are contemplating a coup de da.

    The NDP and Liberals need to have more seats combined than the CPC to make this work.

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  5. The ndp aren't projected to win any Atlantic Canadian seats which is good, though I doubt it would happen. I know Eric doesn't look at specific ridings but it is unlikely, sadly, that Jack Harris will lose his seat.

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  6. "Éric: If things continue like this through the summer, I don't see how we would have an election in the fall. It would be a waste of time and money for all involved."

    Except that campaigns matter and there is no telling what would happen at the end of a 35 day campaign. Also, an election presses the reset button on parliament and if the Tories fall short of a majority, they will not be able to pass a throne speech and the opposition will take power. It would be nice if the Liberals and NDP combined have more seats than the Tories - but not essential.

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  7. Earl: Ron and John you two sound like you are contemplating a coup de da.

    I give you my absolute assurance that I would never contemplate a coup de da. Such a thing is simply not in my lexicon.

    The NDP and Liberals need to have more seats combined than the CPC to make this work.

    Under our Westminster system, the Prime Minister must have the confidence of the House. Period. That is demonstrated by the ability to win confidence votes.

    Beyond that, note that a simple Grit/Dipper coalition (even leaving out the Greens) would represent more voters than a go-it-alone Tory government. So which alternative is based on popular support? Which is the coup d'etat?

    Stephen Harper is many things but he's no Eugene Forsey. Be very skeptical of his constitutional talking points. They're delivered with conviction but have no basis in law or convention.

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  8. "the Liberals speed up the final packaging of our new Red Book -- it has to contain at least one doozy (in spite of our limited margin of manoeuver insofar as the country's finances are concerned)."

    .... reprint the old one.. most of the stuff still applys. national childcare, rural communications, researchin toxic substances and pollution reduction,... enact koyoto,.... increasing prescription drug coverage, etc etc etc....

    someday....someday...

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  9. "Beyond that, note that a simple Grit/Dipper coalition (even leaving out the Greens) would represent more voters than a go-it-alone Tory government. So which alternative is based on popular support? Which is the coup d'etat?"

    Newfoundland and Labrador First party and the Bloc would have a bunch of support between the 2 too... Doesn't mean that the voters for 1 party support the intentions of the other.


    I suggest running on forming a coalition government.... that would alay my fears that the people voting for those parties involved.... actually support the other side in its positions. (and it might just push the torys over the top of a majority)

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  10. How important is a 14% approval rating and a 53% disapproval rating for a party leader?

    How bad are these numbers in relative terms?

    What were Dion's numbers 3 months before the last election?

    There have been numerous polls that suggest the next election would give the Liberals + NDP more seats than the CPC or at least lessen the gap.

    This goes along with both the NDP and Liberals continually humiliating themselves to avoid an election.

    Other than the impact of Leadership in an election campaign can anyone provide a theory why the Liberals are so terrified of an election??

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  11. Harper's support should be much, much higher. Canada's economy is booming, and employment just surpassed its pre-recession peak.

    I do not think Canada's recovery will continue at this pace forever. Eventually interest rates will go up, and people are already starting to see storm clouds in the US or Europe.

    Absent robust economic growth, Harper's myriad of missteps (I don't necessarily disagree with them, or think they are individually important, but collectively they paint a bad picture) over the past year will restore Liberal poll numbers.

    However, that won't necessarily bring about an election. The NDP, Bloc AND Liberals have to be up for that to happen. Layton's battle with cancer alone could play an important role. It looks like he is on the mend (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/833240--jack-layton-upbeat-on-battle-with-prostate-cancer), but he may not be in the best shape to fight an election (and he is a huge asset to the NDP).

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  12. BC,

    As you suggest, if anyone's thinking of a fall election, they may want to think about where the parties were in similar polls three months before the last election.

    Compare the results from the AR poll done in late June 2008 with the results from this AR poll (in brackets):
    Tories: 33 (36)
    Liberals: 30 (27)
    NDP: 19 (20)
    Bloc 10 (9)
    Greens 7 (7)

    That makes for a rather interesting comparison doesn't it. According to AR, the only real difference between late June 2008 and early July 2010, is that the the Tories have picked up 3% from the Grits.

    OK, Iggy might not be as incompetent as Dion in an election campaign (though no one should expect miracles on that front - and it's not as if the Tory 2008 campaign was a masterpiece either, there's room for improvement for both parties), but if there's a fall election he's going to be starting from a hole relative to where Dion was. That's why the Liberals are terrified of an election, because right now they're facing the prospect of doing worse than they did in 2008- Eric's projections notwithstanding. And they're right to be concerned.

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  13. John I find it funny that you're invoking Eugene Forsey when you've twice now introduced a new standard of legitimacy: most voters.

    Governments are formed all the time that don't represent the most voters. We have a level of geographic representation, not just population representation, that makes this possible.

    Even mentioning such a silly standard makes your criticims of Stephen Harper's constitutional principles ironic.


    As its been pointed out repeatedly, if the NDP and Liberals do NOT have more seats than the CPC then you'll essentially have a 2008 coalition replay that a majority of Canadians rejected.

    Having the Bloc involved in a governing arangement is a very unpopular arangements. But hey, its the Liberals' funeral...

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  14. "Harper's support should be much, much higher. Canada's economy is booming, and employment just surpassed its pre-recession peak."


    I may currently be a Liberal supporter but I am willing yo give credit where credit is due, seriously what exactly has Harper done to take credit for Canada's strong economic performance?

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  15. "Having the Bloc involved in a governing arrangement is a very unpopular arrangements."

    Fine! So once the NDP and Liberals announce their intention to vote down any Harper throne speech - i look forward to Harper holding a summit with Gilles Duceppe where he gives Duceppe whatever he wants in exchange for getting his Throne Speech passed. Harper will sell out ANYTHING to the BQ if he gets to remain PM.

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  16. what exactly has Harper done to take credit for Canada's strong economic performance?

    He took the political risk to look after the economy rather than roll over to Al Gore and the global warming fanatics New World order scamsters.

    I do not know what Mr. Ignatieff would have done but I feel confident that Mr. Dion , Mr. Rae and Mr. Layton would have supported the AGW boondoogle and may have provided some critical mass to the movement. Almost certainly they would have curtailed the Oil Sands development which is THE driving engine of the Canadian economy.

    It is amazing how Harper has changed the channel and taken Global warming off the priority list and has not suffered severe political repercussions in doing so.

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  17. Is "looking after the economy" like looking after a cat? Because they mostly take care of themselves.

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  18. DL, since the NDP and Liberals have singularly failed to bring down Harper on any prior speech from the throne and/or confidence motion heretofore (and there have been dozens of them), I'm not sure why you think things will be different in the future if we don't see significant changes in the the seats held by the various parties.

    Will he really be that much more odious after a fall election, then he was in the spring when the Liberals helped him pass his budget? Or last fall, when the NDP helped get the Tories over a Liberal confidence motion? What's going to be different in the next few years or months from the way things have been for the past 4 1/2 years?

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  19. John:

    You said:

    {Under our Westminster system, the Prime Minister must have the confidence of the House. Period. That is demonstrated by the ability to win confidence votes.

    Beyond that, note that a simple Grit/Dipper coalition (even leaving out the Greens) would represent more voters than a go-it-alone Tory government. So which alternative is based on popular support? Which is the coup d'etat?}

    With respect I'm not using any of Harper's constitutional talking points. If the opposition chooses to defeat a Harper minority government after the next election, then so be it. If the NDP/Liberals don't out out number the Conservatives then they will need the support of the BLOC to govern. Without the support of the BLOC they can't go the GG and say with sincerity that they can face the HOC and gain confidence. The GG would IMO be more likely to accede to Harper's request for an election .

    Jim Travers posits that the GG could call upon the CPC to see if they could gain the confidence of the HOC with a different leader. As he says this would be a radical move, however he (the GG) would be within his rights to do so.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/stephenharper/article/834970--travers-nightmares-lurk-in-stephen-harper-s-dreams

    I think the course of action that Travers imagines the GG taking is unlikely just as I think it unlikely that he would hand power to a coalition that was outnumbered by the governing party.

    The support of the BLOC in the above situation is mandatory if anything resembling a coalition is to work. That support would come at a heavy price and would result in the same kind of anger that the previous incarnation of the coalition faced in the ROC. Do you really think that Michael Ignatieff would want to destroy his party or that those Liberal brass and his own MP's would allow him to do so?

    If the Liberals and NDP have a plurality of seats and form a coalition then they have a legitimate reason to believe they should be given an opportunity to govern. Otherwise they are placing themselves in the difficult position of being in bed with the party that seeks to break up Canada.

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  20. AFTER an election, someone has to pass a throne speech - otherwise Canada has no government. If the Liberals and NDP hold firm AFTER the next election to vote down any Tory throne speech then its a totally different situation from what we have now. It wouldn't cause an election, it would simply mean that Harper would have two options - make a deal with Duceppe or resign and make way for a Liberal/NDP minority government. Of course there is a third possibility - maybe Ignatieff will start getting some ideas from his buddy Nick Clegg and will decide to join a Conservative/Liberal "grand coalition" where he gets to be Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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  21. DL:

    What's your take on BC? Is Campbell going to fall apart and will the recalls happen? He won't back down in the face of horrific poll numbers.

    Yes someone has to pass a throne speech. Assume a LIB/NDP coalition with less seats than the Conservatives. If they oppose the throne speech then they look power hungry and obstructionist. Beyond that though the BLOC holds the balance of power. They decide if the government falls and if the GG calls upon the coalition to try and form a government, they decide if it survives. Being the BLOC their interests are best served by demonstrating Canada doesn't work. So why not defeat the coalition as well? Then what happens - we have to have another election. Now maybe the coalition can buy the BLOC off but do you think that's really smart? Harper's not going to do a deal with the BLOC because he knows the long term damage it would do. I know he might have tried to pull one of in 2004 but that was six years ago and I think he's learned something in the meantime. I'd guess that the LPOC has also learned something. Maybe the NDP hasn't learned how poisonousness deals with the BLOC can be. So you tell me if you would how it works because in your senario you seem to assume the BLOC supports the coalition for nothing and that Sir isn't going to happen.

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  22. Is "looking after the economy" like looking after a cat? Because they mostly take care of themselves.

    You don't think there would have been much more interference in the Canadian economic recovery by anybody but Harper?

    Basically everyone else had committed Canada to send vast sums of money out of the country to fight Global warming.

    Are you saying that would be a better economic plan?

    Sticking with the cat analogy Harper has kept the litter box clean and the water and food dish full.

    Our Canadian cats are considerably more healthy than the US and European cats.

    It just seems coalition partners want to get rid of the litter box (oil sands) and let that cats use the potted plants.

    They also seem to want the neighbors to pay for more care to city kittens who are best looked after by their mothers.

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  23. Earl

    You are basically making the CPC stump speech for the last week of the election.

    The NDP/Liberal Coalition will have to be openly discussed this time. If it says it will stand together to oppose the CPC and leave the balance of power in the HoC up to the BLOC there will be a stong push for Liberal supporters to hold their nose and vote in a CPC majority

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  24. If the Liberal Red Book isn't new and innovative, then they'll have a problem.

    The problem being exactly the same problem Stephane Dion had. He released his platform early, and it gave the Conservatives time to build their campaign response to it. It gave the Conservatives time to make policy-heavy attack ads.

    Releasing your platform early is only going to work if the platform on it's own is enough to tip the political scales dramatically.

    And given the Liberals - who traditionally claim to be a centrist party - I don't see how they could put many surprises in their book.

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  25. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-notebook/ignatieffs-bus-breaks-down/article1638845/

    "The bus carrying Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff broke down just outside the Eastern Ontario town of Hawkesbury Tuesday, just before 6 p.m.

    The breakdown occurred on the first day of the Liberal Leader's six-week, cross-country excursion to promote Mr. Ignatieff's and his party's fortunes"


    I'm sorry,... its just too funny. It smacks of more utube filming in your office while everyone else is in a TV studio.

    Isn't amateur hour over yet??

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  26. "I may currently be a Liberal supporter but I am willing yo give credit where credit is due, seriously what exactly has Harper done to take credit for Canada's strong economic performance?"

    I was speaking in a political sense. One would expect that a robust recovery would bring majority numbers. Historically voters credit leaders with economic outcomes, whether the leaders were responsible or not.

    Structurally, the collective decisions of many previous Prime Ministers are probably responsible for Canada's recovery. Still, Canada's stimulus was well-designed. It focused spending on infrastructure, which:
    -has a high multiplier effect
    -has long-term economic benefits
    -is inherently temporary, minimizing post-recovery fiscal drag

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  27. "It wouldn't cause an election, it would simply mean that Harper would have two options - make a deal with Duceppe or resign and make way for a Liberal/NDP minority government."

    Your assumption is that, in the absence of some sort of bribe from the Tories, the Bloc will vote to bring down the Conservative throne speach (because abstaining means the Tories live to fight another day) but that, in the absence of a similar bribe, it will vote in favour of an NDP/Liberal throne speech (if not, that government will fall too and there will be an election). I think you should think about that assumption.

    The Bloc supported the 2008 coalition, true, but in 2008 the NDP and the Liberals had also proposed a "consultation" mechanism with the Bloc. That was the bribe. The optics of that were terrible, so that won't be repeated.

    Granted, the Bloc might prefer an NDP/Liberal coalition even in the absence of a formal consultation mechanism or other bribe because, de facto, the government will need their support on everything. You want to pass a speech from the throne? Fine, we want $4 billion to compensate Quebec for QST/GST harmonization. You want to get your budget passed, we want to talk about the equalization system which is sticking it to Quebec. (I know, only the Bloc could think that). In each case, the Bloc can present the government with a take-it or leave-it demand, because they know full well that they won't be punished at the polls for forcing an early election while trying to get more for Quebec. But given that, how keen are the NDP and the Liberals to put themselves in that situation? What good does it do them to take power for a year or so, only to be thrashed in English Canada the next time out for selling out to the Bloc. They're going to run into the same problem they did in 2008 and the Tories will have a field day. It's worth noting, for example, that the Liberals could have done what you suggest at any time since 2008 but haven't. There's a reason for that.

    Moreover, the Bloc might also prefer to have the Tories in power federally for three reasons. First, arguably the Liberals are a greater threat to Bloc seats in Quebec than the Tories are. So letting the Liberals run the show in Ottawa would risk giving them a chance to re-establish themselves in Quebec. Far better to let them self-destruct in opposition while the Tories become the party of English Canada.

    Second, the Bloc might not want to be seen as complicit with all of the policies of the federal government. If the NDP and the Liberals can't get more seats than the Tories, though, positive Bloc support will be neccesary on every single government vote. That means the Bloc will end up wearing everything the federal government does. As the Liberals have found, it's hard to be an effective opposition party when you're always voting with the government. To the extent that some Bloc vote is just an anti-government vote, they'd risk losing that to the Tories (which would be the only anti-government party).

    Third, while one might argue that the Tories are less Quebec-friendly than an NDP-Liberal coalition, that in itselfs suggests why the Bloc might prefer to have the Tories in power. The Bloc is still a separatist party and what better way to encourage separatism than by being able to point an unfriendly government in Ottawa.

    Taken together, you shouldn't be presuming that the Bloc is just going to go along with whatever plans the NDP and Liberals hatch up or that the NDP and Liberals are going to want to put themselves in the Bloc's power.

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  28. Eric,

    There is an Environics poll out this morning, will you be reporting on it?

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  29. Excellent analysis, Carl.

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  30. The thing is that in the next election you can expect the Tories to run a vicious "separatist-baiting" campaign where they will accuse the BQ of being traitors etc... and Duceppe will try to polarize the election in Quebec as being the BQ vs. the Tories. He will campaign as the anti-Harper. It will be almost impossible for him to then vote for a Tory Throne speech in exchange for nothing. Remember that once a Liberal/NDP government passes a throne speech - they are IN. They can declare that only budget votes will be deemed confidence votes and then they can follow the Harper tactic of just staying in poweer as long as possible while stacking the judiciary, the senate and all federal agencies with Liberals and New Democrats. The Tories will then be in disarray and embroiled in a lengthy divisive leadership battle and will probably play the role the Liberals are currently playing by abstaining on everything while they try to get their house in order.

    PS: Anyone else notice the new Probe poll on federal preferences in Manitoba? It says Tories 44%, NDP 24%, Libs 21% and Greens 10%. This would mean the Tories are down about 5% since the last election.

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  31. BC Voice of Reason:

    {Earl

    You are basically making the CPC stump speech for the last week of the election.}

    That may well be true however what I'm trying to get John, Ron and DL to see and admit is that any coalition would be dependent on the BLOC to govern.

    Given that the Bloc represents only Quebec's interests and not those of Canada and that it seeks to break up Canada, any governing party that courts its support does so, IMO at a heavy cost to its support in the ROC. That's not a stump speech but political supposition.

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  32. Eric are you going to do anything on the BC poll I mentioned earlier?

    I would value your take on it.

    Thanks,

    Earl

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  33. Yes, Earl. Probably tomorrow. I've done up a projection model for it too.

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  34. "That may well be true however what I'm trying to get John, Ron and DL to see and admit is that any coalition would be dependent on the BLOC to govern. "

    ...and if the Liberals and NDP stick together than any Conservative government will also be dependent on the BLOC to govern. Choose your poison. There is no reason for the Liberals or the NDP to make things easy for Harper after the next election. They will announce an alliance and force Harper to grovel before Gilles Duceppe.

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  35. Earl: Jim Travers posits that the GG could call upon the CPC to see if they could gain the confidence of the HOC with a different leader. As he says this would be a radical move, however he (the GG) would be within his rights to do so.

    Absolutely--in theory. In fact, the Governor General could call on Gilles Duceppe, Elizabeth May (should she win a seat--and just possibly even if she doesn't) or Glen Pearson to form a government. He'd just have to believe that his pick would have the confidence of the house.

    None of the people listed should hang by the phone after a Harper loss of confidence. In practice, Governors-General carefully weigh whether a prospective PM might command the confidence of the house when the situation isn't clear, and a signed agreement of support is a powerful way to send a message. That's what the 2008 Liberals and NDP signed one in 2008, with Bloc support; that's why the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc signed one in 2004. They gave the Governors-General of the day some reason to believe that a coalition could survive a confidence vote.

    That's where Travers goes off the rails. If the opposition turfs a Harper-led Tory government, there's no obvious reason why they'd support one led by (say) MacKay or Baird. Neither of those gentlemen are likely to be showered with supporting letters from across the aisle.

    The support of the BLOC in the above situation is mandatory if anything resembling a coalition is to work.

    Yes, but have another look at the documents from the failed coalition. The Bloc demanded remarkably little in exchange for their non-aggression. Not an single item in the Policy Accord could be described as "pandering to Quebec". Not even through foamy lips.

    That support would come at a heavy price and would result in the same kind of anger that the previous incarnation of the coalition faced in the ROC.

    There's be anger if the Conservatives whipped it up as they did in 2008 but it wouldn't last. The Bloc would cooperate in productive government because that's what they do. (Look closely at pictures of Bloc MPs: very few have horns and a pointy tail.) Canadians like sane government when they have a chance to see it in operation.

    The Governor-General will not throw our system of government out the window because the party at the losing end of a confidence vote threw a hissy fit. I recognize that you're discussing constitutionality, not the Harper spin. When that spin is removed, however, a coalition would be legal, stable, effective and (when the muck falls to the ground) acceptable.

    If the Liberals and NDP have a plurality of seats and form a coalition then they have a legitimate reason to believe they should be given an opportunity to govern. Otherwise they are placing themselves in the difficult position of being in bed with the party that seeks to break up Canada.

    It didn't seem to bother Stephen Harper when the Grits had 135 seats and the Tories and Dippers had 118 between them. Of course, we've already agreed that he's not the go-to guy for consitutionality.

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  36. No poison DL.

    CPC would just go to an election.

    However, I think a broke, leaderless Liberals/NDP would find themselves at the very least abstaining.

    That's if, as you say, they don't sign a suicide pact first and plow ahead with voting down the throne speech.


    BTW - Harper won't resign if he loses to a coalition.

    He'll stick around until a new leader is chosen in the hopes that he can force one more election and roar back to a majority like Trudeau did.

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  37. DL,

    But remember, the Bloc doesn't have to vote for a Tory throne speech if the the Tories have more seats than the NDP and the Liberals. They can just sit on their hands and the bill will pass.

    And yes, only the speech from the throne and money bills (which, I'd note, includes more than just a single budget bill) are mandatory confidence motions, but that's neither here nor there. In that scenario an NDP/Liberal coalition would need Bloc support if they wanted to pass ANYTHING. Yes, a failure to appease the Bloc wouldn't neccesarily mean that the government would fall immediately (though it would mean that it would fall when the first money bill came along, or on the first occasion that Tories manage to bring an opposition led confidence vote in the house), but it would mean that it also wouldn't be able to achieve anything.

    And I think you're engaged in a high degree of wishful thinking that, in that scenario, the Tories would descend into anarchy. The more likely result is that they'll figure that such a coalition won't last more than a few months (and, unless the NDP and the Liberals are willing to make concessions to the Bloc, it wouldn't) and that they'll keep their powder dry until then. I don't see Harper stepping down in that scenario and, so long as he has the most seats in the house, I don't see the party forcing him out. Besides, of all the parties, the Tories would probably be the best placed to run a new election in short-order, given their substantially greater fundraising and organizational capacities. The Liberals have had to roll-over and play dead for the past 5 years because they don't have that organization, so that comparision isn't meaningful.

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  38. DL said: "if the Liberals and NDP stick together than any Conservative government will also be dependent on the BLOC to govern"

    Not true. Again, you're forgetting that parties can abstain from voting or just not show up for votes. An NDP and Liberal coalition with fewer seats than the Tories would need the Bloc to show up and vote with them on every single vote they have. If the Tories have more seats than the NDP and the Liberals, they only need the Bloc to abstain or be absent (and, in fact, I seem to recall reading that the attendence rate in the house for Bloc MPs is abysmally low).

    Furthermore, in practice, because there is so little gap, ideologically, between the Grits and the Tories, the Tories know that they can count on the Liberals not to oppose them on a lot of issues, not because the Liberals can't fight an election, but because they don't want to be seen as opposing a policy that appeals to their potential voters. So, for example, the Tories can make it very hard for the Liberals to vote against their throne speeches.

    An NDP/Liberal coalition will have a much harder time doing that with the Tories, because of neccesity, policies which are acceptable to the NDP won't be acceptable to the Tories (and maybe right of center Liberals). So whereas the Liberals can't oppose the Tories with impunity, the Tories could probably oppose an NDP/Liberal coaltion with impunity.

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  39. I hate to return to the old issue of public financing of the political system - but let's not forget that the Tories have promised that they will move to scrap all public funding of parties if they stay in power after the next election - this would drive all the opposition parties into bankruptcy and that alone would be enough to motivate the BQ to back a Liberal/NDP coalition for at least a couple of years - not to mention the fact that Duceppe is likely to quit after the next election and so the BQ will be distracted with picking a new leader.

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  40. John,

    I realize this is the internet, and people can say all sorts of nonsense on the internet, but I'm going to call you on your claim that the NDP, Bloc and Tories signed an agreement of support in 2004. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and suggest that it's just because you haven't read the document you linked to, not that you're intentionally mistating the facts, but in either case you should be ashamed of yourself.

    The document in question wasn't an agreement, it was a letter to the GG from the opposition leaders which said, in relevant parts:
    "We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice
    has determined, to consult the opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority."

    Nothing more.

    If you can produce the fictional agreement of support you say was signed, great, I'll concede the point. Otherwise, you should concede that you were wrong.

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  41. Hi John:

    As I noted I didn't think Travers suggestion was something at all likely to happen.

    You are right there was nothing in the agreement signed by the Bloc in 2008 that pandered to them. However Duceppe said he would still look at each bill on its merits and what it did for Quebec. There in lies the problem. If no party forms a majority after the next election and the Liberals and NDP form a coalition but are short of a majority or worse, short of the number of seats that the Conservatives have, then they and the Conservatives are in the same position - they have to have the support of the BLOC to govern. That is my point. This is not spin by anyone but me. Any federalist party that makes a deal with the BLOC is committing suicide. I think Harper was wrong in 2004 and very fortunate that events didn't work his way. Had he been successful, I think Paul Martin would now be PM with a strong majority government. No offence intended.

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  42. Re BC Poll:

    Thanks Eric, that's great!

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  43. Earl,

    It is not correct to say that there was nothing in the 2008 agreement which pandered to the Bloc. Section 3 thereof said:

    "Furthermore, upon its formation, the government will put in place a permanent consultation mechanism with the Bloc Québécois."
    http://www2.canada.com/pdf/accord.pdf

    I don't know about you, but giving the Bloc a priviledged access to your government seems to constitute pandering to me.

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  44. Carl it was my understanding that the letter in question was designed to prevent Paul Martin from calling a snap election.

    The opposition parties needed more time and money and were willing to maintain confidence in Martin for a period of time. The worry was that even though he had confidence Martin would call an election while the other parties weren't ready.

    It would have been a shocking abuse of power but probably something the GG would agree to.

    The letter was designed to create the spectre of a caretaker, minority Conservative government that would sit for a short period of time and give the opposition parties the breathing room they needed to organize an election.


    How on earth that morphed into a Harper led coalition or getting in bed with the Bloc i'll never know.

    I think leftist political pundit Aaron Wherry over at Macleans pushes that out every now and again. Ditto for Travers.

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  45. The only thing i would considering "pandering" was the Tories passing law declaring Quebec to be a "nation". THAT was a clear pandering for the votes of Quebec nationalists that flew totally in the face of every principle the Reform party ever stood for - and BTW: it didn't get the Tories one single solitary extra vote in Quebec.

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  46. Earl: If no party forms a majority after the next election and the Liberals and NDP form a coalition but are short of a majority or worse, short of the number of seats that the Conservatives have, then they and the Conservatives are in the same position - they have to have the support of the BLOC to govern.

    Indeed, but potentially in a very limited way.

    In 2008 the Bloc agreed, for a specified time, to support all confidence motions with no input into those motions. They were not bound on votes that were not confidence ones.

    That sounds like a pretty free hand to govern, and at a very reasonable price.

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  47. Carl: The document in question wasn't an agreement...

    Could you cite the dictionary on which you base that assertion? The document in question certainly appears to be "Law a. an expression of assent by two or more parties to the same object." You can read the implied object as being simply for the Governor General to consult the opposition before calling an election. You can read it as all parties declaring confidence in a PM from a party lacking a plurality. Either way, the letter lays out an agreement.

    To avoid another iteration, the term I used was "agreement of support". The signatories state that they, "who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation." They request the Governor General to "consult the opposition leaders and consider all of [her] options". Which dots remain unconnected in the mind of anybody concerned?

    Fundamentally, the message was clear: the Conservatives, NDP and Bloc Québécois were going to work together to maintain confidence. No split hairs can wave away that fact.

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  48. Carl: It is not correct to say that there was nothing in the 2008 agreement which pandered to the Bloc. Section 3 thereof said:

    "Furthermore, upon its formation, the government will put in place a permanent consultation mechanism with the Bloc Québécois."


    The title of that section is important: it's A “no surprises” approach. for what it matters it's between the Liberals and NDP; the word "pandering" was in the context of the tripartite agreement. However, that point is moot because pandering is still conspicuously absent.

    The quoted sentence is the second half of the section. Here's the first half:

    "Within the limits of common sense and the needs of cabinet government, the two parties agree they will work together on a “no surprises” basis."

    Taken as a whole, the section doesn't say that the Bloc has any say in any matters; they just get to speak and to hear. If they didn't like what they hear they could presumably make their views known. Regardless, they would still have to support confidence motions, with or without changes.

    At a more abstract level, there's much to be said for the idea of avoiding "ambush legislation". Not just within a coalition and supporting partners, but throughout any Parliament.

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  49. John:

    I'd refer you to what Carl wrote:

    {"It is not correct to say that there was nothing in the 2008 agreement which pandered to the Bloc. Section 3 thereof said:

    "Furthermore, upon its formation, the government will put in place a permanent consultation mechanism with the Bloc Québécois."
    http://www2.canada.com/pdf/accord.pdf"}

    I think that means the BLOC had input and I heard Duceppe say the same thing on National TV as well as say that if the BLOC was unhappy with the government it would withdraw its support. That was why commentators speculated that the coalition would last only a few months at best.

    In the end it would seem to me that we see things differently. I see a consultation mechanism as giving the BLOC a defacto veto. You may not see it that way, but there is no way the BLOC was giving its support for free.

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  50. "In 2008 the Bloc agreed, for a specified time, to support all confidence motions with no input into those motions."

    First..... I've got some ocean front property to sell you in Saskatchewan....

    Second. If that statement was in fact true.... what was the tradeoff to get "support for all confidence motions for a year" Could it be that there was more to the agreement that we didn't get to see? Why is it you think the Bloc would offer its support without getting anything out of it????

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  51. In addition to that John... what would be the stick to ensure the Bloc would maintain the supposed agreement to support absolutely anything for a year??

    Would Quebec voters vote them out for reneging and claiming that the confidence vote of the day didn't do enough for Quebec?

    What then would keep the Bloc from demanding anything for their support despite the "agreement"??

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  52. Barcs: First..... I've got some ocean front property to sell you in Saskatchewan....

    Nice to hear that. Does it come with a legal agreement to be as described, signed by a prominent member of society who is respected by peers of all parties?

    Second. If that statement was in fact true.... what was the tradeoff to get "support for all confidence motions for a year"

    Government that works, perhaps? Even, in part, the avoidance of government that doesn't work?

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  53. John describing the coalition deal as a "legal agreement" boggles the mind.

    It is not a legal contract. It has no legal weight. There is no mechanism by which a member of parliament can surrender their voting rights or bind themselves to voting a certain way.


    Quite frankly the agreement wasn't the worth the paper it was writen on.

    The BQ would have behaved in its own interests at all times. The very moment those interests diverged from the coalition, even if the year and a half wasn't up, they would have backed out.

    As Barcs said, I got some ocean front property in Saskatchewan to sell you ...

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  54. The BQ would have behaved in its own interests at all times.
    Unlike who?

    The very moment those interests diverged from the coalition, even if the year and a half wasn't up, they would have backed out.
    Maybe, maybe not. Who would have predicted the CPC reneging on income trusts? Who would have predicted the CPC going ahead on SSM despite knowing they could not pass anything?

    It is not in the interest of the Bloc to destroy Canada. You and I may consider a Quebec-less Canada as destroyed, but they would simply consider it a naturally allied country, with much closer ties than to the US. Voting against Canada's interests, except in the specific area of Quebec separation, is not in their interest and would only be done if they were as spiteful and vindictive as the CPC often demonstrates itself to be.

    It is also not in the interests of the Bloc to renege on a limited term no-nonconfidence agreement, unlike the CPC which reneged on its own fixed date election law.

    The "price" of continued Bloc support would be things like no resolutions forcing everyone to swear oaths and sing O Canada loudly. If anything to do with equalization came up, there would certainly be disputes, but unless they are petty and vindictive, they have no reason to bring down the government on some other vote because they are petulant about not getting their way. An election simply costs them money, and will not put them into government. Until the Quebec provincial government can secure a mandate for separation, the Bloc just coasts and works with Canada in good faith, exactly the way the country of Quebec would.

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