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Emerson-by ROBBINS
  Feb 14, 2006

Methodology- A random sample of 505 British Columbians Ďwho say they voted in the past federal general electioní, throughout 14 regions of the province between February 10-14, 2006. Final numbers were adjusted for population, but not for voter turnout relative to population. This survey features a margin of error of 3.75%, 19 times out of 20 at a competency level reasonably depicted @96%.

Question #1
Have you closely followed the current political debate surrounding the defection of former federal Liberal David Emerson to Stephen Harperís Conservative party?
Yes    59 %
No    41 %
Question #2
In your opinion was David Emersonís defection to the Tories ethical to a standard you find acceptable?
Yes    31 %
No    64 %
Not Sure    05 %
Question #3
Which of the following choices best reflects who was ultimately responsible for David Emersonís political defection?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper    11 %
David Emerson    62 %
Both PM Stephen Harper and David Emerson    27 %
Question #4
David Emersonís supporters indicate that those people who are angry with him will no longer be, if a softwood lumber deal is concluded with the United States bringing at least one billion dollars to BC. By professional background David Emerson has a history as a CEO with a large forestry company in B.C. The softwood lumber duty was initiated by a group of lumber companies in the southern United States, and promoted by interests close to the Democratic Party in that country. If a softwood lumber deal is concluded between Canada and the United States which of the following represents the most likely reason for the deal?
A change in the Canadian government-    59 %
the Americans expect something from us    30 %
David Emerson    11 %
Commentary
A majority of respondents admit to following the David Emerson political controversy ďcloselyĒ. (32%) of Ďdecidedí respondents are of the opinion that David Emersonís defection was ethical to a standard they accept.
British Columbians are of the opinion that David Emerson is ultimately responsible for his actions and the defection to the Conservative Party of Canada. Slightly less than one out of four respondents believe Prime Minister Harper is either responsible or at least one-half responsible.
If a softwood lumber deal is concluded between Canada and the United States, British Columbians believe is will come about as a consequence of a change in the Canadian government or because the Americans expect something from Canada. A small minority of respondents believes that David Emerson will influence a softwood deal. The majority of those who do are from Vancouver. Does Prime Minister Harper really want former Liberal Cabinet Minister David Emerson to take credit for a softwood deal? If this were to happen than the real possibility exists that David Emersonís stock will go up somewhat, and Stephen Harperís will do down. This is a potential Ďcoefficientí that spells further trouble for the new PM with a big ďTĒ.
The majority of respondents who appear to accept David Emersonís defection also closely comprise a majority of the pool of respondents who were not (or allege they were not) following this political saga closely. An overwhelming majority of respondents who followed this closely believe Mr. Emersonís conduct to be beneath their ethical standards. Many respondents with a negative view of Mr. Emersonís behaviour believe his attitude toward his campaign workers was not dissimilar to complaints workers have toward CEOís and executives with their extravagant compensation and pay. ďRight after Dingwall thereís Emerson,Ē said one respondent.
The worst opinions of David Emerson came from Vancouver Island (22% support his ethics) and the Northeast Sector of the lower mainland, and Surrey (26% support him). The more favourable opinions came from Richmond, Vancouver City proper, North Vancouver, and the Northern and Interior region of BC (30-34%).
Those respondents more likely see Stephen Harper as responsible or one-half responsible for the defection come from Vancouver Island, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, and Vancouver City proper. Those respondents who were paying the least attention to the issue came from the North and Interior and Vancouver City proper (ironically where the news center for the province and where David Emersonís constituency is).
It is unlikely that the ethics Commissioner will affirm the complaints against PM Harperís government, particularly if the alleged Ďinducementí followed Mr. Emersonís decision to defect in the first instance. Once he agrees to defect, he is at that moment considered to be a Conservative Member of Parliament, thereafter the Prime Minister is able to offer the job of Cabinet Minister to Mr. Emerson without conflicting any ethical test as this relates to the Code the elected officials are presently held to. However, if the inducements including a Cabinet post were negotiated as a condition of his defecting than there is trouble for both Mr. Emerson and Mr. Harper. It might be suitable for Mr. Emerson to submit an affidavit confirming the events that led to the defection to the Conservative Party of Canada, thereby setting the record of the events straight. This affidavit could also include an explanation of his motivation.
Despite what prevailing news reports might suggest, I am not entirely sure David Emerson could be counted out absolutely in a by-election should he decide to step down (up) and force one. A by-election differs from a general election in that all of the for and against forces will be able to migrate to the constituency creating a different election dynamic. Mr. Emerson would also have his new Cabinet position to help him garner more favourable public attention, during which time he will be booed less because of his choice to seek re-election as a Tory.
Agreeing to a by-election could restore a lot of confidence in the new CPC government and if David Emerson were to win it, both David Emerson and Stephen Harperís stock would go up considerably, particularly in Vancouver where the Conservatives did not do well in the general election. If David Emerson were to lose, it would be a noble sacrifice for peace order and good government and a real boost to democratic ideals in this country. Moreover, the consolation prize might be that the Liberals still lose a seat and the addition of a New Democrat to the MP board.
All in, I believe the new Prime Minister did not make a prudent choice however attractive it seemed at the time, unless he had the incredible foresight to see the benefits that a by-election might ultimately have for him.

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