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An RSR ROBBINS Survey of 1,000 Canadian Women - with commentary from BC Pollster Kellie K. Robbins
  Jan 14, 2015

This RSR ROBBINS - Canadian survey featuring over 1,000 Canadian women with commentary from BC pollster and President of RSR ROBBINS (BC) polls and surveys Kellie Robbins, provides some insight and foreshadowing into what may transpire in the final ‘turn of the track’ heading toward a federal general election next October 2015.

Question #1
Which of the following leader(s) and party do you support on the federal political scene in Canada?
Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada    39 %
Tom Mulcair and New Democratic Party of Canada    29 %
Stephen Harper and Conservative Party of Canada    19 %
Elizabeth May and Green Party of Canada    6 %
Mario Beaulieu and Bloc Quebecois    2.5 %
Undecided    5 %
Question #2
Choose up to any two of the following policy subjects, right now which are most important to you? (Calculated to produce 100%)
Health    18 %
Education    18 %
Environment    17 %
Economy    16.5 %
Women's Gender Rights including Pay Equity    14 %
Aboriginal Rights    6.5 %
Universal Child Daycare    6 %
Income Splitting benefits from tax returns    3 %
Question #3
Should the Prime Minister of Canada as head of Cabinet in Parliament be responsible for the appointment of all Senators and Judicial to all provinces and territories in the Canadian federation?
Yes    11 %
No    84 %
Question #4
Do you support a federal statutory minimum wage of $16 per hour?
Yes    63 %
No    28 %
Question #5
The Province of Quebec is an original partner in Canada’s Confederation, yet it has not signed Canada’s Constitution. In your opinion is it important that Quebec become a formal signatory to our Constitution?
Yes    72 %
No    13 %
Question #6
Is it your opinion and direction that the Government of Canada should hold an inquiry into the over 1,000 missing and/or murdered aboriginal women who have disappeared in Canada?
Yes    81 %
No    17 %
Commentary
Background:
“Women constitute over 50% of eligible voters in Canada. In Canada’s largest province Ontario more women voted than men in the age groups of 35-44 (56% to 50%) and 45-54 (66%-61%) and were equal to men in that province in the 55-64 age groups at 71% against a national turnout of under 60%.”
“Men outvoted women by a margin of 77% to 72% in the 65-74 age category and by larger margin of 73% to 58% in the 75 year age and over category.”
Up to the 55-64 age group, women vote in higher number than men, in higher age groups “this advantage declines particularly among Canada’s older voters”.
“In the 2011 general federal election there was a slight increase in voter turnout from 2008 although both elections revealed disappointing voter participation.”
“The increase was marked by slight increases among first time voters (youth) of 1.5%, 4.7% among voters 45-54 age group and the highest marginal increase among voters aged 65-74. Voters over age 74 declined significantly among women voters.”
Based on our question 1 Justin Trudeau has a particular advantage among women voters. This advantage is most obvious in the Province of Ontario which has a voter population larger than British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba combined.
This RSR ROBBINS Survey reveals that among Canadian women (weighted for age groupings) Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have work to do to get back to 2011 election totals of over (30%) support among women. On a decided basis one in five female voters from 2011 supports the current government. This compares to 4 in 10 women voters who support Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberal Party of Canada, and 3 in 10 women who support Tom Mulcair and federal New Democrats.
Based on RSR current numbers, in order for Stephen Harper’s Conservative government to achieve the same percentile of 39% of votes obtained in the 2011 general federal election, he and his party would require (60%) of men to vote for him in the upcoming 2015 election which is very unlikely.
If Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is in serious trouble with Canadian women as this RSR survey suggests, than his majority government is in serious trouble.
The lowest support for the Harper Conservatives in any province among women voters from 2011 was in Quebec at (7%). The highest percentage was in Saskatchewan (46%). In Canada’s most populous province, Ontario only (18%) of women supports the Harper Conservatives currently. It is noteworthy that the undecided among Canadian women is highest in Ontario at (7%).
Why the disastrous result among women for the Harper government?
The answer(s) to this question may be found in question 2. Respondents were provided with 8 response choices for question 2. Random statistical outcomes would produce a 12.5% selection rate. Of these, the environment, economy, health, education and women’s gender rights including pay equity all score above random.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government primary issue, the economy, is equivalent to the environment, health and education and is only slightly higher than women’s gender rights and pay equity.
Only 1 in 14 respondents who selected women’s gender rights also selected Stephen Harper and Conservative Party in question 1. However nearly one half of the 16% of women respondents who selected the economy also selected Stephen Harper and Conservative Party in question 1.
After weighting, an estimated (8%) overall, of the total (36%) or net (22%) of respondents who selected health or education support Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, while (76%) of the women respondents who select income splitting also support Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Less than ½ of (1%) overall of respondents who selected gender rights also selected Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Women respondents who support Stephen Harper’s Conservatives do not support daycare or aboriginal rights responses relative to other response choices offered.
A small but solid minority of Canadian women who support Stephen Harper support the economy and income splitting as issues important to them.
Justin Trudeau receives the support of (44%) of women in Ontario, and (37%) of women in Quebec the 1st and 2nd largest provinces in the nation. He scores lowest in Alberta with (24%) support of women in that province.
A majority (62.7%) of all respondents who selected the environment also selected Justin Trudeau and federal Liberal Party of Canada in question #1. (33%) of women who selected the economy selected Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party, while (39%) selected health and (42%) selected education.
A significant number (62%) and (52%) of respondents, who selected aboriginal rights - women’s gender rights respectively, also selected Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada in question #1. (29%) of women who select universal daycare selection Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party of Canada.
Canadian women who support Justin Trudeau are also supporters of social programs. The level of support is comparable to his overall support but much higher in the areas of the environment, aboriginal rights and women’s rights. Among Canadian women, Justin Trudeau’s supporters have completely different issue priorities than Stephen Harper’s supporters do.
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats attract (43%) of women voters support in Quebec the party’s highest totals, with (17%) of women respondents support in Alberta, the party’s lowest support.
(23%) of Tom Mulcair’s New Democrat support is tied to support for the environment as an issue preference. (33%) of Mulcair support is linked to health, while (30%) is linked to education. (52%) of New Democrat supporters from question 1 also support universal child daycare, (42%) selected women’s gender rights while (23%) chose aboriginal rights as an issue preference.
Our countries current method of selecting senators for Parliament and justices for superior courts might be seen as failure according to Canadian women in this survey. The Supreme Court of Canada has directed that a constitutional change is required to deal with senators. The other problem is the courts, where independence and accountability are in doubt. The New Democrats have been the fathers and mothers of universal health care in Canada. There is also a historical link between the New Democratic Party and education. However, the party is not attracting quite as many women as Justin Trudeau is on these policy issues. This difference is explained by the higher overall support for Justin Trudeau.
Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats have managed to steal away children’s daycare from the Liberals who had this on party issue billboards years ago before many younger women were born. The Liberals seem to be stuck between this and their attention to Stephen Harper’s tax relief from income splitting for the use of a handful of Canadians.
The Mulcair Democrats also challenge Trudeau Liberals on women’s gender rights – and pay equity.
A $16 federal minimum wage is supported across the board in all Canadian provinces among respondents. Nearly 3 in four women in Quebec support a statutory wage rate of $16. (55%) of women in Ontario support this standardized wage rate.
A clear majority of Canadian women from this survey believe it is important that Quebec sign on to Canada’s Constitution including (61%) of women from Quebec. Because of its importance I will repeat this: Over 6 in 10 Quebec women would like to see that Province sign onto the Canadian Constitution. Based on this number, if (40.5%) of male voters in Quebec were of similar mind than a number of (50% +1) would be attainable.
The evidence of this RSR ROBBINS survey strongly reflects a lack of support among Canadian women for the Conservative government and its leader Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Although nearly one in two women respondents in this survey who support the current government see the economy as the number 1 issue, there are many other issues which are just as important to Canadian women. These issues include health, education, the environment and Women’s Gender rights and pay equity.
There is also noteworthy support for aboriginal rights, and children’s daycare.
It is apparent that for most Canadian women the (apparent) recent preoccupation with the economy though important and necessary has become less intense to women. They are tired and weary.
Canadian women want a greater focus by the government on other issues closer to home and they want greater satisfaction of these demands. The argument that social programs are paid for by the economy has merit, but the actual dollars come from Canadians including Canadian who feel like they are being held hostage by government excuses, and slaves to the economy. The economy is about money but raising families is also about social values embodied by other issue imperatives such as health, education, environment, women’s gender issues and pay equity, aboriginal rights and child daycare
Women have been held captive to the mantra of it’s the economy stupid, realize that an excuse when they hear it (experience it) and want a return on their investment of taxes, or will seek a divorce from this government in exchange for another that will properly provide.
It is true that most of health and education responsibility rests with the provincial government however the Canada Health Act is federal statute. Outcome and anecdote strongly confirms that women believe the Harper government has entirely abdicated responsibility for the environment, women’s equity rights, aboriginal rights and children (education and universal daycare).
Income splitting isn’t sufficient to mollify Canadian women. Many won’t personally benefit, but many more don’t see this as a unifying policy of government, but rather a political one. They are demanding broader policy considerations, and the government is not satisfying this demand. The Conservative government should have listened to former finance minister Jim Flaherty who wanted a policy to spend surplus against debt (which theoretically would be a unifying fiscal policy).
Support for a federal minimum wage and further (rather surprising) support for Quebec signing onto the Constitution (as important) reflects the sense of unity that women bring to the table in the Canadian confederation. They want clear statutory standards and they want the entire country on the same page. The obvious devolution of powers to provinces by the Harper government in many regards including matters pertaining to the superior courts and the appointment of justices does not reflect the type of accountability Canadian women expect. They want a clear federal standard they can count on whether they live in Burnaby, British Columbia or Montreal, Quebec.
According to Canadian women in this survey the Canadian Constitution insofar as its democratic structure involving senator and justices, requires a major overhaul. The Supreme Court of Canada has rejected the Prime Minister’s call for changes to the Constitution for Senators from that court. It is obvious that only Parliament and not the courts can deal with this. By criticizing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court the Prime Minister diminished its standing somewhat and himself in the process and opened the door to an inspection of Canada’s method of appointing justices to provincial courts.
Under Part VII “Judicature” specifically, the Appointment of Judges section 96 of the Canadian Constitution states: “The Governor General shall appoint the Judges of the Superior, District, and County Courts in each Province.”
(The Governor General of Canada is symbolic, and acts on the direction of the Prime Minister).
Selection of Judges etc. is found at section 97 of the Constitution which states: “Until the laws relative to Property and Civil Rights in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick and the Procedure of the Courts in those Provinces, are made uniform, the Judges of the Courts of those Provinces appointed by the Governor General shall be selected from the respective Bars (law societies) of those Provinces.”
Section 98 of the Constitution states: “The Judges of the Courts of Quebec shall be selected from the Bar of that Province.”
Under “Tenure of Office of Judges” section 99(1) states: (1) Subject to subsection two of this section, the Judges of the Superior Courts shall hold office during good behavior, but shall be removable by the Governor General on Address of the Senate and House of Commons.”
There does not appear to be any clear definition of what “good behavior” is.
Section 100 of the Constitution states: “Salaries, etc., of Judges stipulates that the Salaries, Allowances, and Pensions of the Judges of Superior, District and County Courts…..shall be fixed and provided by the Parliament of Canada.”
(There appears to be evidence that some pension amounts are being paid by provinces at least in the Province of British Columbia).
The Bar of each province referenced in the Constitution would be the BC Bar, the Alberta Bar, Ontario Bar etc. and would include associated law societies. Given the political nature of Attorney(s) General in each province, and at the federal level, and the influence of larger law firms and members on law societies and “Bars”, determined by constitution to be responsible for selection of justices to superior courts, it is pretty clear that claims to an independent judiciary in Canadian superior courts is a reach.
Stephen Harper talked his way into office as a Reformer. He promised to reform the Senate. He also promised to have property rights enshrined in the Constitution. He has done neither. He put the Supreme Court comprised of many of his appointees on the bench for not helping him out of his Senate fiasco which he readily participated in (appointments). With Senator Mike Duffy set to go on trial in the early New Year, this issue will raise more political festers and puss surrounding the Prime Minister’s Office, while Canadians learn more about shortcomings involving judicial selection and bias.
One gets the impression that Canadian women unlikely to have investigated the details of this, are simply dissatisfied with the state of affairs of the government and its policy priorities. Canadian women are desirable of more federal standards and a greater role in involvement in creating true accountability in the democracy and the courts.
The recent 2014 Supreme Court of Canada case cited as Bhasin v Hrynew, Docket No.: 35380 represents (shockingly) the first time in Canadian civil law history, that persons (businesses) will be forced to comply with good faith principles in financial dealings particularly contracts, something most Canadians would have expected to be place for years now.
From the Supreme Court of Canada unanimous decision:
“Canadian common law in relation to good faith performance of contracts is piecemeal, unsettled and unclear. Two incremental steps are in order to make the common law more coherent and more just. The first step is to acknowledge that good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law contract which underpins and informs the various rules in which the common law, in various situations and types of relationships, recognizes obligation of good faith contractual performance.”
“The second step is to recognize, as a further manifestation of this organizing principle of good faith, that there is a common law duty which applies to all contracts to honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”
Given that the more significant contract in most Canadians lives is the mortgage, it will be interesting to see if, constitutionally appointed justices will adhere to this Supreme Court of Canada Reasons or simply ignore them.
There can be no doubt among Canadian women that Prime Minister’s Harper refusal to acknowledge over 1,000 of our countrywomen many believed to be murdered because it isn’t on his radar – is painful. There are definitely chasms of inequality among gender in Canada, however our treatment of aboriginal people, and in particular our disregard of aboriginal women must only be viewed as disgraceful.
Kellie K. Robbins
Methodology: This is a target survey of 1,013 women across Canada. This RSR ROBBINS survey was conducted during two survey intervals. The first survey interval was December 16, 2014 until December 20, 2014 and the second January 4th, 2015 until January 11, 2015. These women are known to have voted in the 2011 general federal election and have expressed a likelihood that they will vote again in the next federal general election. The total number of responses has been weighted for age (best efforts) and population. The margin of error was calculated on total number of eligible women voters and is presented at 3.08% 19 times out of 20 at 95% confidence. The outcomes were provided by GPR & Flesho and Co.
About Kellie Robbins: Kellie Robbins is President and CEO of RSR ROBBINS (BC) Polls and Surveys. She has a degree in philosophy from Simon Fraser University and a certificate in Labour Studies from Simon Fraser University. She was a member of the Morgan Centre for Labour Research upon re-opening in 2011 (1st opened 1970’s).

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