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RSR ROBBINS Research - Canada Politics August 12, 2007
  Aug 12, 2007

A random sample of 1,012 Canadians between August 6-12th, 2007. This ROBBINS poll features a margin of error of 3.00%, 19 times out of 20 @95% competency/confidence level. Number of respondents generally correlated to population levels per province save for Quebec where just under 100 respondents were achieved. This poll was sponsored by ROBBINS et al and Jim Van Rassel (604) 328-5398

Question #1
Which political leader and party in Canada do you currently support?
Stephen Harper and Conservative Party    35 %
Stephane Dion and Liberal Party    27 %
Jack Layton and NDP Party    20 %
Gilles Duceppe and Bloc Quebecois    09 %
Elizabeth May and Green Party    07 %
Other    02 %
Undecided    17 %
Question #2
Recently, a Russian submarine placed it’s country’s flag in the arctic region above Canada, raising concerns about Canada’s control of its sovereign territory. If you had control of Canada’s military budget where would you designate funding in terms of prioritizing Canada’s strategic interests, from the list of choices which follow:
Afghanistan: humanitarian aid    32 %
Afghanistan: military and combat funding    17 %
For high technology boats, equipment and military personnel to protect Canada’s northern arctic region    29.5 %
All three equally    21 %
None    07 %
Undecided    02 %
Question #3
The BC government is currently responsible for the production of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games for Vancouver/Whistler. BC taxpayers are liable for any cost overruns. Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that his country would invest $12 billion to fund the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a city located near the Black Sea, not dissimilar to Whistler/Vancouver as a location. Our question is this: Russia is a large country like Canada with a large population of 150 million, while Canada has a population of 33 million and British Columbia has a population of 4 million. The Russian government is taking total charge of Russia’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games with the entire country responsible for any cost overruns or liabilities. The Vancouver organization in charge to date has been criticized for not being forthcoming about the true cost of the Games. In your opinion should the Federal Government of Canada take over total responsibility from the BC organization currently responsible for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics for the local BC government, at a cost to all Canadians of 8 billion dollars?
Yes    51 %
No    49 %
Undecided    08 %
Question #4
Canadian civil law differs between nine of the ten predominantly English speaking provinces and predominantly French speaking Quebec. In the English speaking provinces the laws are based on English law which is based on the principle of precedent, meaning judges look to previous cases to help make decisions about current cases. Quebec is based on old French Napoleonic law which is based on a series of stated principles. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a series of stated principles enacted under the Canadian Constitution (1982). Please bear in mind that Canada’s Supreme Court consists of nine judges, three of which must be from Quebec. Our question is this: If Quebec law is based on principles rather than case precedent such as English- Canadian law, and the Canadian Charter of Rights is a series of principles like in Quebec law, is it therefore fair to say that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is based on Quebec’s civil law rather than English law?
Yes    75 %
No    25 %
Don't Know/Undecided    24 %
Question #5
A woman who works part time in BC is charged under a reassessment by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) $130,000 for taxes covering two years of Taxation. Over two years later and two sets of Appeals the woman is determined to have only made $9,000 for each of the two years and the original $130,000 debt against her is removed. What compensation in your opinion should this woman receive for Canada Revenue‘s mistake?
The woman should receive $130,000 from the government, they tried to take it from her now they should be forced to pay it to her    31 %
The woman should receive one-half of the amount she was falsely accused of owing    47 %
The woman should receive one-quarter of the amount she was falsely accused of owing    22 %
The woman should receive nothing, alls well that ends well    00 %
Don’t Know/Undecided    05 %
Question #6
Entertainment Questions: A Canadian public opinion polling firm oft quoted in mainstream news reports is owned by a United States lobby firm some of whose top executives at one time had close ties to the former Clinton White House. As a Canadian citizen, would you trust the results of this companies polls particularly in matters involving the United States such as softwood lumber or NAFTA?
Yes    46.5 %
No    54.5 %
Don't Know/Undecided    06 %
Question #7
If you were able to vote in a United States election for President, which of the following would you choose?
Hillary Clinton    54 %
Barack Obama    30 %
John Edwards    15 %
None/Don’t Know/Haven’t given it any thought    39 %
Commentary
In the past few months, the Conservative Party has weathered a somewhat difficult spring sitting in the House, some negative news reports particularly relating to Afghanistan, and endured difficulties with some provincial leaders relating to equalization involving the Premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan. Despite this, the Conservative Party of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper is just below totals achieved in the January 1996 general federal election approximately one and one half years ago. The Conservative Party has achieved previous popularity highs of around 40-41%, but for most of this period has averaged totals similar to those achieved in the last general election (36.5%). The Conservatives are holding well in Canada’s vote rich province of Ontario at (37%), and maintaining respectable totals in Quebec of (27%). Totals in BC have dropped slightly (34.5%) and Alberta (52%), with only a modest showing in the Atlantic Provinces of (32%).
One of the main reasons the Conservatives are holding a reasonably strong base support is the continued lackluster showing of the federal Liberal Party of Canada under Stephane Dion. The Liberals have lost nearly (2.5%) nationally since Paul Martin’s defeat to Stephen Harper based on Ontario numbers alone, while its lowly Quebec totals have at least held at (23%). The other reason is that the Liberal label isn’t as “in” as it was before. It isn’t cool to be Liberal right now. Liberal supporters are never in a hurry to tell you they are. This soft voter moratorium on Liberals won’t last forever but likely a few more years to come. All other totals are either equal or down marginally providing the Liberals with base support of (27%) nationally.
The federal New Democrats are doing well in Canada’s three most populated provinces including Ontario (22%), Quebec (10%) and British Columbia (30%).
We described to respondents in Question #2 a recent news report relating to a Russian submarine which suggests a challenge to Canadian sovereignty in the arctic. We than asked respondents to consider choices for expenditure of military dollars including one choice relating to Canada’s arctic territory measured against two other Afghan choices, where most of our military budget is being spent. Respondents were still willing to support Afghanistan humanitarian aid with the most vigour (39%), with defense of our arctic close behind (36.5%), and money for military combat lowest (24.5%). Canadians are aware that US foreign policy is becoming increasingly re-focused on Afghanistan from Iraq, and are also distinctly aware of the vast difference between combat and military expense, and humanitarian aid. Any further attempts by the Harper government to continue to blur this growing distinction may be done at some cost in popular support we think. I don’t believe Canadians are ‘against’ the idea of combat troops in Afghanistan, the fact however that respondents in this ROBBINS poll are earmarking funds for a clearly defined ‘military objective’ not necessarily related to combat, suggest Canadians have made their decisions about our military future.
Although many Canadians in this ROBBINS did not take the Russian flag ‘stunt’ too seriously many obviously still get the point, that our own sovereignty is as important to Canadians as helping the people of Afghanistan (and elsewhere for that matter), who may not at the end of the day, really care. The military composite demanded by Canadians is one of humanitarian aid abroad with the military in a less significant role but not necessarily a minor one, with a conspicuous bolstering of our military budget to include a discernable effort to protect our sovereignty in the northern artic region of the nation. The politics of Afghanistan in Canadian news almost always involves interaction between new media, journalists, reporters et al and the relevant politician or the most news savvy military leaders. Canadians are more interested in what the average soldier says than the orthodox (safe) public relations.
A bare majority of Canadians are ready to take over the Olympics from VANOC, the BC organization which currently has custody of the Games. BC (67%), Alberta (58%) and Ontario (54%) were the most supportive of the Canadian federal government taking over the Olympics. Atlantic Provinces were only willing to support a federal takeover of Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games to a level of (31%).
Many respondents who said “No” were concerned with the amount of money pledged in the hypothetical question. We believe that lower amounts used in the question would for the most part increase the amount of support, except possibly the Atlantic Provinces.
In our questions #3 it is pretty obvious that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is not defended by most Canadians. Respondents in Saskatchewan (91%) were the most receptive to our ‘spin’ on the Charter being a Made In Quebec legal document. The Atlantic Provinces (88%) and Alberta (84%) were also overwhelmingly inclined to accept our description of the Charter. Quebec was lowest at (54%) “Yes”, however Quebec respondents to this question contributed significantly to the “Don’t know/Undecided and confused overall participation in our ROBBINS rather ambitious manipulative polling question. It nevertheless bears notice those respondents who did answer, seemed to understand the concept we were ‘selling’, and a majority of them bought in.
Any reasonable investigation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) would lead most intelligent people to understand that for all intents and purposes this document can nearly be blasphemed as a political hoax perpetrated by former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Jean Chrétien, later Canadian Prime Minister in the 1990’s. The overall document (Canadian Constitution 1982) did not realize Canada’s second largest province, (predominantly French speaking Quebec) as a signatory. All of the other nine provinces signed the document which satisfied the conditions for later ratification and endorsement by the Queen. By compelling Canadians to endure a civil law whose very nature was materially different from anything they might ever experience at province Superior Court levels (including) Appeal Court, meant that the on the political side, Quebec was left out of the agreement entirely, while the remainder of Canada would now be subject to what is essentially a legal document prepared to hand over the Rule of Law to one province, namely Quebec. Now in 2007 how much sense does this make? The document also provided for Administrative legal authority in many circumstances, which essentially provided additional ‘legal powers’ to appointees and others not responsible to the BAR or to the courts.
Why permit bureaucrats (no matter how capable) in ability to move their eyes off policy and onto law? This is certainly a watering down of the Rule of Law, which to be the equal of the voting side of the democratic machinery needs to be able to stand on its two feet side by side with their more democratically conscious cousins in Parliament.
Is Canada’s entire Constitutional existence based on a cruel and contrived hoax by two individuals obviously more concerned with their own historical legacy, than the future interests of the nation? A document which set the stage for one province (Quebec) to be divided from the nation based on a resentment in ‘near perpetuity‘. How would you react if a deal were done behind your back? Or was this ’deal’ just as sordid as it looks, did Quebec cut the deal to stay out of the agreement in return for de facto legal authority across the entire country, a theory supported by the enactment of language laws which run with the Charter within the Constitution? The apparent quid pro quo was to push Quebec civil law on Canada through the principles of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This document set out individual freedoms which cannot be realized at law without significant resources, or in the alternative a lawyer who is willing to take the case for at his/her own expense. If this is not a format for populist jurisprudence, than how can it support its claim to promoting individual rights? What precisely is the objective of the Canadian Supreme Court beyond the words. I do not say this without respect, I say this within the much greater context of are we Canadians connected to Rule of Law? I don’t think so, and as a consequence we need to have a serious conversation about this. I also know first hand that as citizens we don’t have any Charter Rights that apply directly to the people if the constituent players in the machine don’t want you to have them. Sooner than later, Canada won’t be criticizing any other countries Human Rights.
(Respectfully, I still need to know how we know with certainty that Maher Arar was tortured. A junior reporter telling me that he “WAS” tortured means nothing. If I can go to a kids soccer game, have the subject come up and have ten moms and dads ask that same question I am now asking, I don’t need to do public opinion on it to realize it’s a fair question. Also, if I lose a multi-million dollar business owing to the government’s gross interference and there is no accountability, I get to ask these questions. (next package: Putin or Winfrey?). Third, when we have a mysterious bomb scare out west here and the police promise to play the tapes, plus a reward is offered, and the tapes aren’t ever offered, and people begin to wonder if there ever was a bomb scare, than folks these questions have got be answered because there is something ‘very wrong with the movie‘. Frankly, if you ask most Caucasian and other multi-generation Canadians their opinion they will tell you this: “many Arab people or people of Arab descent lie with impunity, it is part of their culture.” Many Caucasians and other multi-generation Canadians will quietly tell you they have the same impression of Indo-Canadians and in some cases Chinese immigrants. These other cultures integrate somewhat poorly into the main culture of multi-generation Canadians, and rather than asking for our continued tolerance, we need to tell the 'newcomers' that they are fortunate to be here and when in Rome do as the Romans do. I am generalizing somewhat here to make a point, but as far as being accountable personality types I don’t think people of Arab descent match up too well to the necessary criteria. (Frankly, you can sometimes find this pattern of behaviour among new Caucasian immigrants particularly from places like eastern Europe where Socialism prevails or did prevail, and the people have little experience with authority and truth. I mean I know it’s a little harsh, but its necessary stuff that people need to hear, and after all what is anyone in government going to do, ruin another business?)
Show me proof, don’t just tell me to believe it, because if I don’t believe it, you can bet there are many others who don’t as well).
I might suggest the investigation of two more courts in Canada. These courts would be higher than a provincial court of Appeal, but lower than the Supreme Court of Canada. The court in the west would be called the Western Regional Supreme Court of Canada (WRSCC), and there would be the Eastern Regional Supreme Court of Canada (ERSCC). I can speak better for the west, so I would say the WRSCC would be based more on precedent decisions with a view to the principles of the Charter. The Charter should be updated to include more directives which will help to more broadly shape the document for relevant purposes coming three decades later. There would be nine judges on these courts constituted from the western provinces, Yukon, Nunavut, and each Judge would sign on to a ten year contract at 1 million dollars per annum. These Judges will be very carefully selected with accompanying publication of a short list in the gazette, inviting public discussion of these, followed by the final selection. If a Judge should die while under contract, his replacement would follow a similar path as the overall selection. Same after the contract has expired.
Any country with such a flawed Constitution is bound to encounter more trouble than successes and the continued denial of this will only exacerbate the situation drastically. Canada is not well structured, and it goes well beyond the vast shortcomings of accountability in government. The devastating incongruence of these structural flaws vis-à-vis the courts, and its equal measure in power with Parliament, make it difficult for the country to progress as a united nation stifled by the continued insensitivity of Ottawa to the needs of the entire country. If BC Senator Larry Campbell’s comments that the recent shootings in Chinatown by people ‘known to police’ were linked to Stephen Harper and his Conservatives gun laws (or apparently a lack thereof) I am not too confident that the kind of intellectual progress necessary to affect a clear and positive new direction for our country will be coming anytime soon.
Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government Meech Lake Accord of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was put in place to rectify an obviously flawed Charter document, which has no meaningful relevance to Canadians as reflected in these ROBBINS polling numbers.
There are conspicuous dangers in seeing the Rule of Law in Canada becoming the new standard bearer of so-called progressive public policy on social matters, particularly as this relates to the final arbiter of law in the country, the Supreme Court of Canada, and specifically the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These dangers lie in the obvious departure from legal historical approaches which includes most significantly the declining role of positivism in legal postulates, and the increase in judicial activism.
Prior to the enactment of the Canadian Constitution (1982) including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian courts could be fairly characterized as conservative in nature governed by the overriding influence of case precedent and stare decisis. These conservative principals are well established in the years leading up to Trudeau’s Charter and mostly clearly described in a study of sitting members of the judiciary in a 1976 University of Alberta study. In Gerard Gall’s “The Canadian Legal System (Third Edition Carswell 1990) comments were derived from all judges of the province of Alberta in response to the following “specific question” posed to them. The Alberta Judges were asked “should Judges, in applying the law, exercise a quasi-judicial role, as suggested by Chief Justice Deschenes’s, in judicial decision-making, or alternatively should judges exercise an essentially interpretative function in this connection? I (sic) am also interested in your views as to the nature of the doctrines of stare decisis and precedent, and (sic) how would you characterize these doctrines? Are they rules of law, conventions or customs, now enshrined within the law, judicial attitudes or otherwise?
Here then are the comments from the Alberta Judges just years before Pierre Trudeau moved to enshrine a Charter of Right in the Canadian Constitution:
“Precedents must be interpreted in light of changing social conditions and values”;
“Precedent and stare decisis can be characterized as rules of law (and) are needed to prevent judges from imposing their personal values and philosophies upon society under the guise of pronouncive law”;
“Some judges are revolutionary in their thought and attitudes, and in the law-making role of the judge, he must give some regard to precedent and should follow certainly the higher courts which are his guidelines until overruled or changes”;
“Stare decisis (what comes before) has become such an integral part of our law that, in my opinion, it is now a rule of law and should continue to be such. The doctrines of precedent and stare decisis are a fundamental part of our system of law. There are three purposes for them (1) they provide a basis from which lawyers can advise clients, (2) they avoid additional costs of appeals and unnecessary litigation and (3) there is a danger that different parts of the same jurisdiction and different jurisdiction would otherwise apply different principles of law in Canada”;
“Turning to the doctrines of precedent and stare decisis, I remember that someone once said: “I would rather be right than consistent.”
“But precedent and stare decisis are necessary if there is to be certainty and consistency in law. (Lord Reid) points out in the borstal boys case that the trend is regarding law of negligence as depending upon principle so that, when a new point emerges, one should ask not whether it is covered by authority, but whether recognized principles apply to it.”
The system of common law is based on precedent and on the rule that lower courts follow the rulings of appellate courts. This is necessary, but this does not mean than an appellate court cannot gore good reasons, reverse itself at some future time, These, in my opinion, are rules of law”;
"Stare decisis is at present a rule of law”;
“Trial judges are appreciative of and feel bound by decisions of other courts. When they disagree with other courts it is because there is an inclination to stretch and look for answers which meet “the justice’ of the situation. Appeal Courts should not allow the law to shift too drastically and should also have the ability to reverse themselves. The Supreme Court of Canada has in some cases, the ability to reverse itself”;
“Precedent and stare decisis are subject to the process of distinguishing. They are binding rules of law. By seeking out and finding distinctions we would of course be fulfilling a good deal more than an interpretative function, merely applying the law”:
“The doctrines of precedent and stare decisis are important for certainty. An alternative would not be a rule of law, but rule of man. Each judge would become a law unto himself. As far as the legislative role of the judges is concerned I emphatically state that the function of the judge is not that of the law maker. I therefore, of course, feel that the doctrine of stare decisis is a doctrine essential to the proper functioning of our judicial system. If that doctrine is taken away from the judicial system, then each judge becomes a law unto himself and the citizen is no longer subject to the rule of the law but is in danger of being subject to the rule of man”;
“The doctrines of precedent and stare decisis are essential to the administration of law-if some precedent or stare decisis philosophy is not in tune with new social realities, it is the legislature, not the courts, which has the burden of adopting the law to the new realities”;
“Precedent and stare decisis is not a form of concrete: forever immutable… The doctrine of stare decisis is the embodiment of the desire that law should be stable and known but is must be applied in moderation otherwise if when pushed to doctrinaire limits becomes utter nonsense”:
It might seem odd that given the criticism I (and apparently most of the rest of the country) has for the judicial system in Canada, that I would suggest a widening of its scope at least how that is implied with the addition of a new regional court. It really is one of those situations when you know something doesn’t work, and the solution would seem to be to lessen the impact of the dysfunction on the overall democracy, when you go the other way and try to make that element more worthy, more viable and more accountable. I lend my wisdom reluctantly to this new plan which could do a lot if planners are innovative and forward thinking (no more bull dykes, freaks, etc Human Rights Tribunals). Law to be an effective part of the overall democracy must be readily, and I mean readily seen to be working for the people, not for the lawyers, but the people. The implication of the Charter of Rights if you read more of the scholarly works on the subject is that essentially Trudeau drafted a plan for complete control of the country by the bureaucracy who the lawyers have begun to serve, or who the lawyers have gone to work for. This is wrong-headed, Trudeau was wrong-headed, and I am laying the groundwork for a fundamental and sweeping change that works for the country, not just for a stubborn few.
The woman who was unfairly charged the enormous amount by Canada Revenue Agency was obviously devastated at the assault on her life by an unconscionable few in the public service. It turns out there never was any bona fide evidence to suggest any monies owed. We hear complaints about CRA from private citizens all of the time at ROBBINS. People you need not possess an IQ over room temperature to understand that the Appeals division of an entity should not be in the same building as those that audit and investigate. There are whole families riddled through these CRA buildings many of them speaking garbled English/French to Canadian citizens. This is no way to run a federation.
Although it is nice that the Conservative government has finally came to their senses on this problem with CRA, we need to find out if the Tax Ombudsman is a show appointment or has teeth. It is not clear to us what amount of accountability changes the Conservative government has made to date, but if the entire package hasn’t been assimilated there is work to do, and a fresh step to satisfy the Liberal bureaucrats and journalists in eastern Canada cannot be the answer. Prime Minister Harper needs to govern like he is still from the west with the spirit of the revolution for change. If he can’t make this happen than the people will have to take charge as the small minds in Ottawa and Toronto who think they are in charge of a nation, are sadly mistaken. We continue to pretend to be a country complete when we are not yet. This is Canada, in many ways we give the impression that we are all sweet and nice, but the people who aren’t elected, aren’t in the public services or other interest group often get treated like shit here. If you are reading this in another country trust me, Canada has a lot of dirty little secrets. More to come on this. Don’t bet on natural justice working for the people of Canada.
Hillary Clinton seems untouchable and I say this for this reason. My callers and I haven’t heard anyone say a bad word about her, even where they don’t support her.
Interesting times ahead.
Glen P. Robbins (604) 942-3757

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