Friday, May 25, 2012

Liberals hit new low as NDP, Tories face-off

Two polls were released this week showing remarkably consistent results, both giving the Conservatives a narrow lead over the New Democrats. The two polls also show the Liberal Party below its 2011 electoral result, the first time since the weeks after the election that two polls taken over a short period of time have measured Liberal support so low.
The newer set of numbers, released by Angus-Reid yesterday, put the Conservatives at 37%, unchanged from Angus-Reid's last poll of Mar. 20-21. The New Democrats, however, are up four points to 33%, while the Liberals are down three points to 18%.

This is the first time that Angus-Reid has pegged Liberal support this far down the scale.

The Bloc Québécois is down one point to 7% while the Greens are unchanged at 4%.

Since Angus-Reid was last in the field before the NDP leadership convention, this is another poll where the trends point to what effect Thomas Mulcair has had on voting intentions.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta (61%, +5), the Prairies (49%, +2), in British Columbia (41%, -2), and Ontario (41%, +1), while they trail in second in Atlantic Canada with 32% (-4).

The New Democrats lead in Quebec with 43% (+10) and place second in British Columbia (40%, +7), Ontario (31%, +7), Alberta (23%, -2), and the Prairies (23%, -9).

The Liberals are leading in Atlantic Canada with 35% (+8) while the Bloc is second in Quebec with 27% (-4).

Thomas Mulcair has the highest approval rating of the three main leaders in this poll, with 46%. His disapproval rating is 34%, giving him the only net positive score. Stephen Harper splits 45% to 47% and Bob Rae 34% to 46%. But more importantly for Mulcair, 21% of respondents say their opinion of him has improved in the last month. Though that gives him a "momentum" score of -1 (as the number of people who say their opinion worsened was 22%), that is far better than Rae's score of -8 and Harper's score of -29.

In fact, Angus-Reid's momentum score is often quite pessimistic. Canadians simply don't like their political leaders very much. For Mulcair to have such a relatively benign score is actually a huge improvement over what numbers have usually been registered.
Abacus Data's numbers are about a week older, but show very similar results.

The Conservatives lead with 37%, unchanged from Abacus's last poll of Mar. 9-13, while the New Democrats are up seven points to 35%. The Liberals are down three to 17%.

The Bloc and Greens are each down two points to 6% and 5%, respectively.

The Conservatives lead in Alberta (68%, +4), the Prairies (55%, -5), and Ontario (38%, unchanged) while they place second in British Columbia with 40%, a gain of one point.

The New Democrats are ahead in Quebec (41%, +13), British Columbia (41%, +4), and Atlantic Canada (39%, +11) and are behind the Conservatives in Ontario (35%, +9), the Prairies (28%, unchanged) and Alberta (19%, +1).

The Liberals are second in Atlantic Canada with 31%, up four points, while the Bloc is trailing in Quebec with 23%, a drop of 10 points since mid-March.

Here again, Mulcair is the only leader to have a net positive favourability rating: 36% favourable to 21% unfavourable. Stephen Harper scores 37% to 49%, while Rae scores 22% to 38%.

Among their own party supporters, Stephen Harper has an 88% favourability rating, while Mulcair scores 73% and Rae only 61%. Harper and Mulcair have infinitesimal unfavourability ratings among their own party supporters (4% and 3%, respectively), while Bob Rae has a 13% unfavourability rating among Liberal voters.

In terms of seats, these two polls deliver similar results. With Abacus's two point Conservative lead, the Tories take 154 seats thanks to good scores out West and in Ontario. The New Democrats win 118, still a big gain over their current crop of MPs, while the Liberals win only 30 seats. The Bloc takes five and the Greens one.

With Angus-Reid's four point Conservative lead, Stephen Harper wins 155 seats to 109 for the NDP, 35 for the Liberals, eight for the Bloc, and one for the Greens.

In both polls, the Conservatives win 19 seats in British Columbia, 27 in Alberta, six in Quebec, and two in the North. Abacus gives them 25 seats in the Prairies, 67 in Ontario, and eight in Atlantic Canada, while Angus-Reid gives them 21, 70, and 10 seats in those regions, respectively.

The New Democrats win one seat in Alberta and one in the North in both polls, with Abacus delivering 15 in British Columbia, three in the Prairies, 31 in Ontario, 57 in Quebec, and 10 in Atlantic Canada. With Angus-Reid's numbers, they win 14, two, 26, 60, and five seats, respectively.

With Abacus's poll, the Liberals win one seat in British Columbia, eight in Ontario, seven in Quebec, and 14 in Atlantic Canada. With Angus-Reid's, they win two seats in British Columbia, five in the Prairies, 10 in Ontario, one in Quebec, and 17 in Atlantic Canada.

Abacus and Angus-Reid conducted their polling over a relatively similar period of time both this month and back in March, giving us some good data with which to look at the trends. Both surveys were also done online, providing some methodological consistency.

Looking at those trends, we see the Conservatives holding steady nationally and the New Democrats making a big leap forward, particularly at the expense of the Liberals but also the Bloc Québécois. This is the situation in Ontario (leaving out the Bloc, of course), as well as in British Columbia.

In Quebec, we see that the New Democrats made massive gains (10 points with Angus-Reid, 13 with Abacus), which can be attributed to Thomas Mulcair's leadership win. In both polls, the Liberals and Bloc have lost support as a result, while the Conservatives are generally steady. That is not too surprising, as they appear to be stuck with their Quebec base only.

The two polls also show agreement on how the genders feel about the parties. The Conservatives hold an 11 point edge on the NDP in Abacus's polling among men, while the lead is 15 points with Angus-Reid. The New Democrats, meanwhile, have a nine point advantage over the Tories among women in the Abacus poll and an eight point margin in Angus-Reid's polling. That is a stark contrast between the two genders.

In order to definitively pull away from their opponent, then, both the Conservatives and New Democrats need to find a way to appeal to the other sex. The party that manages that feat, without losing the support among the gender among which they currently lead, will be in a very strong position. We often focus on the region vs. region political battle, but this demographic split could be more important.

44 comments:

  1. Eric, assuming for the sake of a thought experiment that we hold the Liberal vote in Ontario constant at the 22% that Abacus shows for them, how much change from Conservative to NDP is needed before the seat numbers start evening out in Ontario in your seat projection?

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    1. I had done something like that a few weeks ago (in the comments section), and it is relatively significant.

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  2. As I have said before, the problem is that when we try to extrapolate the seat distribution in Ontario from current polls that have the NDP well over 30% - we are in uncharted territory. When the NDP went from 18% to 26% in Ontario last May, it already produced some shock results like Scarborough-Rouge River and Bramalea-Gore-Malton. We simply do not now what the "geography" of NDP support would look like if it crested into the mid-30s. My own hunch is that NDP support is already maxed out in areas where they are already very strong like Windsor, Hamilton, the north and the downtown Toronto ridings - so if the NDP vote in ontario went from 26% to - say - 34% next election, i think the really big increases would come in places in suburban Toronto and 905 land that were formerly Liberal stronholds - ie: the more downscale more heavily ethnic parts of Peel region and Scarborough and North York etc...and you would probably also see the NDP move into contention in smaller cities like K-W, the other London seats etc....If the province wide popular vote is tied between the CPC and NDP - the seat count will almost certainly be very close as well.

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    1. Yes, you certainly have said it before. It's a nice theory, but we'll have to wait and see.

      It was possible to extrapolate the NDP from going to 12% to 43% in Quebec, and from 18% to 26% in Ontario, and get accurate seat totals, so I don't see why this will be any different.

      And you bring up a few individual examples - a few individual examples aren't going to break the bank. In all likelihood, the NDP will make some surprise progress in a handful of seats and win them unexpectedly, while not winning a few other seats they were expected to win. It all evens out in the end.

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    2. I'm not sure that I agree that the NDP is maxed out in current strongholds. There are a bunch of NDP-Liberal contests in Toronto particularly where the NDP could gain significant numbers of votes by gobbling up the Liberal support without that gain showing even in the slightest in the seat count. Beaches-East York, Parkdale-High Park, York South-Weston and even to an extent Davenport and Trinity-Spadina.

      It's entirely possible that the result of this NDP spike will be the development of super-safe NDP seats, but not a dramatic increase in the number of seats.

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  3. So both polls show the CPC steady and the NDP growing.

    With three years to go the NDP will be massive by then !!

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    1. I remain convinced that Harper maxed out his support last election, persuading every last right-leaning soft Liberal to hold their nose and jump ship in order to stave off an NDP-led government. This is why I don't buy into the claims that if the Liberal Party were to suddenly bail, its supporters would split 50/50 between the Cons and NDP. My feeling is the NDP would get minimum 75%, especially given their hard push towards the centre under Mulcair combined with the so-far disappointing and scandal-plagued Harper majority.

      Dom

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    2. I think the notion that the majority is "disappointing" is going to be an interesting one to play out. The Conservatives made this big play that they needed a majority to be able to govern effectively, but what the public has seen since has been a parade of scandals, and a politics that hasn't really looked all that different from how things went down during the minority years.

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    3. Derek Andrew25 May, 2012 21:38

      I don;'t think the NDP or Tories can ever truly max out with the Grits at 20%=/- in the polls.

      If the Tories had maxed out they would have won seats like Vancouver-Quadra. Likewise if the NDP had maxed out they would have won Oshawa or Vancouver-Centre.

      I very much doubt the NDP would get 75% of the Liberal vote unless people cast an ABH vote. The overwhelming majority of Liberal voters in Vancouver-Quadra would go Tory even Green before NDP. Contrary to "progressive" spin the Liberals are a small "c" conservative party as evidenced through their longstanding ties to Bay St.

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    4. But it's equally arguable that while the Liberal party is small "c" (and I agree with that entirely), the party's supporters often buy into the claim that the party is truly liberal.

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    5. Anonymous 12:07,
      While you may be right concerning Harper's "maxed out" support in most provinces, you greatly underestimate Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador's potential to vote conservative. In 2006, there was a lot more enthusiasm for the Tories there than in 2011. Brian Mulroney also had a lot more support in these two provinces in 1984 than Harper had last year - they came first in both places in 1984 while they were third in 2011.

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    6. SkelAlex,

      As a Quebecker, I can assure you, 100%, that Harper will NEVER make a comeback here. He has completely written off this province and everyone here knows it except for a small number of stubborn old right-wingers mostly situated in Quebec City and the surrounding region. I have an uncle among them. As for NL, I get the feeling they're already experiencing major buyer's remorse over the lone Conservative they elected last year. It's gonna be back to ABC for them next time. The Harper Conservatives have almost nothing in common with the Mulroney Conservatives and everyone in QC and NL knows it.

      Dom

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    7. If you are right, and Harper really has written off quebec, you can expect Charest's 3B+ deficit to become a 10B+ deficit when equalization comes up for renewal in the next couple years.

      I doubt the statement tho, and I think that a quite alot of the equalization program will remain in place. But I do hope that some steps are taken to correct the real fiscal imbalance.

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  4. Let's not forget also that in 2011 the Tories got a big ballot box bonus from their very strong support from the elderly while the NDP did better with younger voters. First of all there is reason to believe that the NDP is making inroads among the older voters - but on top of that think of how many largely Tory voting people who were over 75 in May 2011 will be dead of natural causes by Oct. 2015 while everyone who is now 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 and was too young to vote in 2011 will be eligible to vote...

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    1. DL the trend for youth participation is negative and there's no reason why Harper can't simply appeal to new generations of older voters as they age.

      IF there is something about the CPC that appeals to people at that stage of their lives I see no reason why the newly elderly wouldn't simply replace the dying off elderly.

      Demographics isn't going to determine the next election.

      Except maybe all those new immigrants in Ontario, Vancouver, and Calgary who are loyal to Harper and going to see new seats added for them.

      Delete
    2. Derek Andrew25 May, 2012 21:41

      One should also remember that the population is aging. In the next election older voters will compose a larger portion of the electorate.

      Also statistically, if you're 75 you have a pretty good chance of living another longer (remember the average life expectancy for men is 78 and women 82)but, if you're already 75 the chances of you exceeding those numbers are pretty good.

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  5. South Parkdale Jack25 May, 2012 13:04

    So nice to speculate on what was pretty well unthinkable just over a year ago.

    The next fed is still a few years off but obviously Canadians are reassessing their past voting behaviour; and probably for a number of reasons.

    It will be the reponsibilty of the NDP to further grow into the role of the Official Opposition and government in waiting ... a few bumps along the way, but Canadians will be looking for an alternative, as they often do, after 10 years of one party in power (exception Alberta, of course!).

    A thank you to Jack Layton.

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  6. John Galt is a character in the Ann Rand novel "Atlas Shrugged". Good reading if you've not read it. No way to run a country.

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  7. Oh and the is a movie coming out with title "Who is John Galt?" The question on this blog is likely advertising for so it, I feel dumber than I felt before.

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    1. This being a political blog, Google generates these kinds of ads for it. They aren't always on the ball, though, as you often see ads relating to American politics and for a few days I was seeing a lot of German-language ads.

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  8. OT: Simpson may not understand Quebec or he may-

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/jeffrey-simpson/in-a-province-of-sacrifice-a-few-pursue-privilege/article2442829/

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  9. Dom I see little evidence of an NDP push to towards the middle. For instance the one big policy issue that Mulclair has undertaken is the near closure of the oil sands which he prefers to call tar sands. The Oil Sands employ 154,000 Canadians directly and another 100,000 indirectly.

    More importantly they along with rest of the oil and gas industry generate over half the money that now flows from west to east. It is just not equalization payments that cause Federal tax dollars to flow from west to east. Federal transfers to individuals as well as transfers from Federal to provincial governments complete the story. When EI or OAS or GIS payments are made in the east, excluding NL - That border beginning at the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border - the money to make those payments increasingly comes from 4 provinces - NL, AL, BC and SK. ON still contributes but does collect increasing amounts of equalization. When Federal Government transfers for health and education, to name two of the larger ones, much of that money comes from the four have provinces enumerated below.

    By attacking the industry that provides the money that lubricates Canada, Mulclair is not only pitting east against west, have against have, not he is risking Canada.

    Brian Topp the man who ran second to Mulclair in the race to lead the NDP has a much more practical and economically sound proposal out. He proposes that governments push the owners of Canada's vast resources to to process them in Canada and to export fished products not raw products. That way Canada would capture more of the value added to these resources and generate lots of jobs albeit in the west for the most part.

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    1. Earl, I know Eric prefers this space not be used for partisan debate, but I must say your claim that Mulcair is pushing for the "near closure" of the oilsands is quite the misinterpretation. He merely laments that they are being developed unsustainably, which in turn allows the raw product to be sold directly to foreign buyers at an artificially low price, which in turn artificially drives up the Canadian dollar, which ultimately harms our manufacturing sector. I'm not sure exactly how his views compare to Topp's, but I'd be highly surprised if Topp isn't also of the opinion that the oilsands need to be developed more sustainably, just as I'd be surprised if Mulcair doesn't also favour increased processing of our resources here in Canada rather than shipping them straight out of the country. My only beef with the way Mulcair has presented his view is the way in which he blew off the western premiers. That was untactful and came across as a rookie mistake, and certainly helped fuel the accusations that he's pitting east against west. I think he should apologize for that but nevertheless encourage this very important discussion to continue while vowing to maintain a more diplomatic tone from now on.

      Dom

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    2. When I was growing up in Saskatchewan in the '60s and '70s, they were called "tar sands". That's what they are now, and it's no big deal. "Oil sands" is just euphemistic spin and perfectly recognizable as PR to those who know what PR looks like. One might ask, though, why the spinmeisters found it necessary to euphemize "tar sands" into "oil sands"--what are they admitting to by doing so?

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    3. Dom I got the notion that Mulclair's oilsand's policies could cause a near shut down of existing oilsands operations from a small article in the G&M in which an unidentified NDP official admitted that there would not be new development should Mulclair's policies be implemented and many existing operations would have to close their doors.

      I'm fully in favour of encouraging full processing of mineral resources here in Canada to point of government involvement, if the private sector refuses to do so.

      I'm not in favour of slowing development unless government can't provide adequate infrastructure to support this development. I look at Taseko Mines Prosperity Lake project as a lost opportunity.

      Imagine the jobs we would generate if we insisted that Canadians produce the copper and steel that our mines produce as copper ore and iron ore. Sadly we miss some of the opportunities because some Canadians don't want those industries here. Too many NIMBY's!!!!

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  10. Could we start seeing polls soon that suggest the Liberals could lose official party status? What would the numbers need to be for that to happen?

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    1. The PCs lost official party status in 1993 with 16% of the popular vote, winning only 2 seats. But it totally depends on how your votes are distributed. For instance, in that same election the NDP received only 7% of the vote but managed to win 9 seats, although that's still less than needed for official party status. Meanwhile, the Reform Party won 52 seats with 19% of the vote, only 3 percentage points more than the PCs.

      Dom

      Dom

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  11. "...both the Conservatives and New Democrats need to find a way to appeal to the other sex. "

    Here's how the NDP can boost their appeal to mean: run sexy dames, and lot's of them!


    On the other hand, the less said about Conservative Party outreach to the female voters, the better:

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/video/canews-22424922/nude-harper-portrait-makes-a-stir-29342442.html#

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    1. Hardly gonna help the gay vote there, Kevin. ;)

      Delete
  12. Remember that great paladin, Bob Rae, who was going to save the Liberal Party? Ah well, there's still time, I suppose...

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    1. Looking at the way things are going even Bob Rae's seat won't be safe for the Liberals in 2015!

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    2. Toronto Centre would likely be one of the last Liberal seats to fall. Only twice since 1993 have the Liberals gotten less than 50% of the vote there - 1997 and 2011. If Rae is still the leader in 2015, he will likely be able to at least partially insulate the riding from any further losses the Liberals take.

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  13. I think the Liberals may see a bump in the polls with some good spinning of the Etobicoke Centre by-election, media attention of their leadership race and perhaps a honeymoon if they choose someone other than Rae.

    However, it doesn't look like the Liberals are not going to be an alternative to the Tories in the long term. Harper and Mulcair have been very effective polarizing the electorate and trying to drain out the centrist Liberal vote.

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  14. From BC, I'm just not feeling the Harper love so can't digest these poll results. But then again I am from the camp, when it's raining, it's actually raining, or reality if you prefer.

    As for Elizabeth May and the Green party support dropping, perhaps those voters are finally realizing her 'me against the world' is not working.

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  15. Mulcair visits Alberta in 4 days. I anticipate some predictable reactions and revealing polling in the weeks to come.

    In the end, Hill and Knowlton will receive multi-millions to shape and deliver another Conservative victory. In Canada, elections can be manipulated and purchased.

    New Democrats can never/ will never outspend political rivals. Their strength is their ability to identify and pull their vote.

    Principled leadership and public policy may still have an opportunity to prevail.

    As we can see, however,the politics of fear, dirty tricks and lots of money are hard at work to produce results for those who love Power but do not like to Govern.

    Polling snapshots and resulting trends may eventually reveal if CDN. voters are in control of their future or if they are mere passengers on someone's omnibus.

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    1. You do know we have spending limits on elections right ?

      The CPC, NDP, and LPC were all pretty evenly matched when it came to election spending during the last two cycles.

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    2. Thank-you for your comments.

      Yes. There are spending limits, of course.

      The defining difference between the Conservatives and NDP, it seems to me,is where money is spent and why.

      The Harper movement chose the expertise of PR firm Hill and Knowlton to help manufacture "a Strong, Stable, Majority Government".

      Harper's backbench MP's and their constituents were then abandon by the side of the road as the Omnibus went roaring by; as planned.

      Also, recent Election dirty tricks,using exclusive Conservative data, was planned: clear evidence of priorities and expenditure.

      Someone/group paid for this. Off the election spending books, of course.

      The NDP, by comparison, are committed to [some would say 'mired in'] churning out principled policy ideas and leadership with integrity. Arguably a much harder road to democratic governance.

      But then again, achieving Democratic
      governance is hard work.

      Unless,of course,our country produces a PM like Harper, who conservatively reformed his party alliance, pushing people and parliament aside when he achieved political power.

      I stand by my assertion that: 'In Canada, elections can be [unduly]manipulated and purchased.'
      And that 'dirty tricks;lots of money are hard at work to produce results for those who love power but do not like to govern'

      Delete
  16. "The two polls also show the Liberal Party below its 2011 electoral result, the first time since the election that two polls taken over a short period of time have measured Liberal support so low"

    The first polls from Harris Decima and Abacus after the election were taken closer together and had the Liberals lower, so that statement technically isn't factually correct, Eric. I'm just nitpicking, but worth pointing out I thought.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Canadian_federal_election#Opinion_polls

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    1. Darn, right you are. I didn't have the HD poll in my records, IIRC because they never released the full details back then. I'll amend my post.

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    2. Lol no worries. It came up on a Liberal facebook group, which is the only reason I even noticed.

      I'm curious if you've taken a look at the latest Angus Reid poll for BC. It was interesting since it had some data on how a merged Liberal-Tory coalition party would do under different leaders.

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  17. Like Obama will use Mitt's comment of "I do not
    care for poor people against him". The image of
    a NPD member wearing the red square, and NPD
    Quebec citizens wearing red squares and waving radical socialist red
    flags in a social justice defeat of Charest
    and Harper. To bring a strong socialist govt of of PQ's Hon. Pauline Marois and
    of NPD/NDP Hon. Thomas Mulcair is like mana from heaven to Harpers media assault machine. Which will maybe taint or paint Mulcair a radical socialist methinks.

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    1. Derek Andrew29 May, 2012 00:52

      Anon 11:09,

      Tom Mulcair does not hold the honourific The Honourable. He is not a member of the Privy Council. Provincial cabinet ministers hold the honourific only while in office. The exception is Nova Scotia where any former member of the executive council (cabinet) retains the honourific for life with the post-nominal ECNS.

      It is custom for Leaders of the Opposition to be made privy councillors at the PM's prerogative usually after at least a year of service.

      Delete
  18. Today, a new Forum is out showing NDP 36% Cons 32% Libs 20%. Big lead for NDP on East, West coasts, and Quebec, Stat tied in Ont, Saskatoba, trailing badly in Alta (quel surprise). This was polled last week so all the attacks on Divisive, angry Mulcair have done nothing. Indeed his leadership numbers lead Harper and Rae by a long stretch. Seems Tom Terrific, or maybe Teflon Tom might be his new nicknames.

    JKennethY

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    1. From the National Post article reporting on that poll:

      "By far the most polarizing leader was Mr. Harper."

      I'm starting to wonder if the incessant "divisive" attacks against Mulcair may be backfiring by reminding people of the Prime Minister's own tendencies.

      Dom

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