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Support for Harper government dropping sharply

Prior to the October 19, 2015 fixed date election, the Harper government will make its decision on the ‘New Prosperity’ mine on Tsilhqot’in territory (by the end of February), implement the Canada Health Accord (on March 31, 2014, which could cut $36 billion from public health care over the next ten years), proceed with the Northern Gateway pipeline (that decision is expected by June 19, 2014), ratify the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (it is believed that this may be scheduled for September 2015), and pursue numerous other harmful policies.

But as reported by the Globe and Mail, a Nanos Research poll has found support for the Harper government dropping sharply:

  • 55 per cent of people said Canada is headed in the ‘wrong direction’, while the poll conducted over the past seven years had never shown that figure to be higher than 38 per cent.


  • 56 per cent rate the Harper government’s 2013 performance as ‘somewhat poor’ or ‘very poor’, 44 per cent of respondents in the Prairies said the government’s 2013 performance was ‘very poor’, signalling unrest in the Harper Conservatives’ backyard.


  • 38 per cent said government had a ‘very poor’ year, more than double what the poll had ever shown.


  • 45 per cent said Canada’s reputation was ‘not improved’ internationally this year; 8 per cent said the same a year ago.


  • 58 per cent saying relations between Ottawa and the provinces had somewhat not improved or not improved at all.

The article notes, “Generally, the Conservative government got poorer reviews from female respondents, in Atlantic Canada and among people between the ages of 18 and 29. But across age groups, geographic regions and gender, the trends were the same: More people say the government is doing a poor job, and that Canada is headed in the wrong direction, than say otherwise.”

CBC National Affairs specialist Greg Weston comments, “The Harper government, of course, will do everything it can to divert public attention to less embarrassing debates (than the Senate and robocalls scandals). There is already no shortage of potential diversions, not all of which will make life easier for the Conservatives. For example:

  • Free trade with Europe. It is popular media wisdom that the Senate scandal completely overshadowed the signing of this supposedly massive trade deal with the 28 nations of the European Union. Truth is, the Harper government hasn’t seen fit to share details of the agreement with Canadians, and could hardly expect dancing in the streets over a press release saying it’s a great day for Canada. The fine print has to show up soon, however, and by definition there will be regional winners and losers. Let the political fireworks begin.


  • Pipelines. It is considered unlikely the Obama administration will rule on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to southern U.S. refineries before the midterm congressional elections in November. In this country, the far more contentious Northern Gateway pipeline to the B.C. coast has been approved by the National Energy Board, and will likely get the cabinet’s OK later this year. That will almost certainly touch off a huge round of protests and court actions by aboriginal and environmental groups across the country.


  • Aboriginal issues. Last year began with the Idle No More movement, followed by a period of relative calm. No one in government expects that quiet to last.


  • Postal service. The surprise year-end announcement that Canada Post is phasing out home delivery in the large urban centres, and hiking the price of stamps, is bound to spark a heated political debate.


  • Government spying. The Harper government is going to have some explaining to do in the wake of the revelations by American whistleblower Edward Snowden that a super-secretive Canadian intelligence agency has been hacking into computers and intercepting phone calls, often at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency.”

In terms of party standings, a December 19 Ekos poll showed:

Liberals – 32 per cent

Conservatives – 26 per cent

NDP – 23 per cent

Globe and Mail columnist Jeffrey Simpson recently argued, “At 40 per cent, the Conservatives would win again, likely with another majority; at 30 per cent, they would lose power. Their aim – and it will drive almost everything they do in the next two years – will be to recapture all or most of the difference. …Therefore, domestic and foreign policy will be bent with even more relentless direction and energy at hitting the issues to swing that 10 per cent back into the fold. …This micro-identification of departed or possible Conservative voters will be seen in foreign policy, as in more wooing of Jewish voters through blind support of every Israeli government position, helping Toronto’s Tamils recall the boycott of the Commonwealth Conference, reminding Filipinos about Ottawa’s efforts after Typhoon Haiyan. …In domestic affairs, there will be all sorts of micro-initiatives directed at the 10 per cent: action to ‘protect’ consumers against high wireless fees and cable charges, little tax breaks for this group or that, income-splitting mostly to benefit the middle to upper-middle class, protection against bank charges or whatever focus groups reveal Canadians don’t like about the banks.”

It should also be noted that in December 2011, the Harper government passed a bill in the House of Commons that will expand the chamber by 30 seats. The bill means there will be 338 ridings in play in the October 2015 federal election. The 30 seats will be distributed as follows: 15 to Ontario, 6 each to Alberta and British Columbia, and 3 to Quebec. The Conservatives used their ‘majority’ to pass the legislation, which was opposed by all of the opposition parties.

Further reading
Canada is headed in the wrong direction, majority says in poll
Is ‘a walk in the snow’ in Stephen Harper’s future? by Greg Weston
For two years, Conservatives will be all about the 10 per cent by Jeffrey Simpson