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RSR ROBBINS Research - Canada Politics October 9, 2008
  Oct 09, 2008

A targeted sample of 747 ROBBINS respondents throughout Canada between October 4th and 9th, 2008. I would estimate that the range-- margin of error for public support for question #2 is 1.75%--and for remaining questions—3%--if this poll was conducted 20 times— with 14,940 respondents---at least 19 of those times or through 14,193 respondents—the result of these questions would be the same nationally. Outcomes from 747 respondents is constituted proportionately by the populations for each province—and in the case of Atlantic Canada—regional averages as well. Jim Van Rassel (604) 328-5398 contributed to this poll.
Glen P. Robbins

Question #1
For which leader and party did you vote in the last general federal election?
Stephen Harper and Conservatives    35.48 %
Paul Martin and Liberals    29.45 %
Jack Layton and NDP    17.41 %
Gilles Duceppe and Bloc    9.37 %
Jim Harris and Green    4.01 %
Other    2.95 %
Unsure    1.34 %
Question #2
If an election were held today for which leader and party would you caste your ballot?
Stephen Harper and Conservatives    34.28 %
Stephane Dion and Liberals    26.51 %
Jack Layton and NDP    22.20 %
Gilles Duceppe and Bloc    8.77 %
Elizabeth May and Green    8.22 %
Unsure/Undecided    10.98 %
Question #3
Internet and telephone companies in Canada have been found to have overcharged consumers by many millions of dollars. In your opinion should the CRTC which regulates these companies Order that:
Overcharged consumers be reimbursed    78 %
The companies use the money owed to consumers to develop Internet facilities in more rural areas    18 %
Undecided    07 %
Question #4
The economic problems in the United States are picking up steam despite likely bail-out provisions expected from Congress. Other western countries are having difficulties and Canada is not likely to be immune from some difficulties as well. It is obvious this federal election is most likely about Canada’s economic future. Would you be willing to suspend the October 14, 2008 election day by 10 days—to October 24, 2008 in order for Members of Parliament to return to Ottawa to convene an emergency sitting of the House of Commons to debate Canada’s economic future-- including negotiating provisions for a $30 billion dollar deficit fund ‘insurance provision’ to ensure that Canadian financial institutions, credit lending, and other Canadian institutions including health, education and other necessary programs such as investing in Canada’s artic sovereignty remain solvent and strong in the event we confront more serious economic challenges down the road?
Yes    39.2 %
No    36.2 %
Undecided    24.6 %
Commentary
Stephen Harper and his Conservative party are now (04%) below their previous totals from the last general federal election in 2006 based on ROBBINS raw data -- between questions 1 and 2. Stephane Dion and Liberals are down (10%), Jack Layton and NDP UP (27.5%), Gilles Duceppe and Bloc are down (6.5%), Elizabeth May and Green are UP (105%) — from 2006=all numbers relative to previous baseline totals.
Think about Harris Decima—with Greens @ 13%--this is a big gamble—but honestly, =----you have to love the planet. It’s where we live.
We believe the Liberals made a mistake moving back to the Green Shift conversation {recently} (to get back lost Green votes), when they were making gains focusing on the economy. Liberal momentum has shuddered to a stop as a consequence.
ROBBINS numbers for the Conservatives currently are 3.28% higher than Harris Decima’s—and our trend line for the Liberals is flat—however we agree with HD that Liberals have improved over the election. HD has the Liberals at 27% and ROBBINS has the Liberals at (26.5%). HD started the Conservatives at 41% and has them down 10% to 31% currently. ROBBINS started Conservatives off at (38%) and suggests they are now at (34%). Our numbers when you consider the volatility of financial markets—are far less elastic than HD and others.
Strategic Counsel has the Liberals in BC at 31%--they averaged 28% with Chretien and Martin. We didn’t believe the Conservatives were ever at 40% or over—and note the NDP has historically done better than the numbers ascribed to them now—and is doing better over all in the campaign—even Allan Gregg formerly of Strategic Counsel and now of Harris Decima has asserted on “At Issue” CBC.
On August 29, 2008 ROBBINS suggested public support for Conservatives was (34.5%), approximately the same result we have now. Support for Liberals than was (27%) slightly more than their current totals of (26.5%). ROBBINS had Jack Layton’s NDP at (19%)--now (22%), Elizabeth May and Greens at (08%) unchanged in the last week of the election. ROBBINS had the Bloc at (09%) --- and these numbers have changed little.
According to ROBBINS polls since August 29, 2008 the Liberals faded and have come to their apparent resting place----one which ROBBINS declared as early as 2006. The Conservatives did not make their case for majority government—and will likely remain where they are. The real story—is — the New Democrats. Harris Decima and others have them up 33% since the beginning of the election while ROBBINS has them up (15.5%).
The sleeper here is the performance of the Green Party. Is Harris Decima correct have the Greens increased their popularity by nearly 300%? Or are the ROBBINS numbers more accurate at a 200% increase? Either way—the Greens must be pleased.
ROBBINS believes that if the combined Liberals and New Democrats total public support is 50% or >, where the difference between their respective totals is < 5% than the federal Liberals and New Democrats should be talking about forming a coalition government.
It’s my professional opinion that the economy so significantly overshadowed the environment—that both the Liberals and Greens lost an opportunity to gain further—. Based on our numbers the Liberals and Greens are (35%) combined while Harris Decima has them at 40% or 14% higher than ROBBINS. It is possible in our opinion that the Greens might attain double digits—but we believe this would be based on last minute protest of the other parties---. I don’t believe the Liberal Green Shift can take hold in this ‘election environment’ unless some type of extraordinary extension to the election Writ was permitted.
HD’s and SC’s numbers would suggest the federal Liberals and Conservatives challenging—ROBBINS believes it’s still more of the Liberals and New Democrats. There are more respondents vacillating between these two parties-- in our opinion-- then between Liberals and Conservatives.
We believe the NDP numbers have been over 20% in public support for most of the election-- their numbers are firming up. HD has Greens much higher than we do—13%--ROBBINS has (8-8.5%) for Lizzie- May and the Greens. I believe that if Greens are going to leave they will go to the floor above—the New Democrats and not to Liberals as some might think----- because of Stephane Dion’s Green Shift. Real Greens are granolas; many new Greens are wealthier—or are protesting. Our respondents average in age 47—so there is room for younger people to push Green numbers up, but we suspect more protestors may stay home based on the number of undecided respondents who do not believe the election has given them enough to go on—based particularly on the severity of the financial crisis—and the manner in which very relevant information is coming out—including finance minister Jim Flaherty’s recent announcement---(look at ROBBINS choice of numbers from October 4, 2008—what were the Conservatives saying then?)
That element of the mainstream media which is more predisposed Liberal—wants the environment discussion---folks—it’s just not on right now. Kyoto is long gone. This is all about money---if you intend to make this about the renaissance and reconciliation of capital markets-and government that’s fine—but how do you communicate the complex relationship including the ideological underpinnings of capital markets and their relationship with free markets----at a time when some deficit spending could be strategically advantageous to the country---to insure—with an “I” all financial markets in Canada—not giving hand-outs-- but providing confidence that government can buttress difficult economic times— and maintain well ‘must have’ programs?---Including the more sophisticated of the bread and circus bunch but as Stephen Harper can now attest—-------you have to watch how you adjust the dials on the discussion. Political Science 200 will tell you that the sense of nationhood is linked most closely to language// and ultimately arts and culture are part of Quebec’s sense of nationhood (and frankly a big part of our culture here in British Columbia).
On August 29, 2008 ROBBINS wrote:
The Prime Minister should offer the film industry in Canada $150,000,000 in additional tax credits—, with the clear understanding that any movies produced for commercial viewing in Canada will have to take the highest restrictions for viewing—. Canadians aren’t against more explicit material with taxpayer’s dollars if it is artistic and generally recognized by reasonable persons in the community involving special skills as such—this would be the essence of the mutual good faith from the point of disbursement by the government to the point of delivery of the product into the artistic world, OR the commercial world. I would hope that sensible people could contemplate a way to ensure that the artistic and cultural skills Canadians in film have---can manifest into top end film—recognized around the world-AND produce top flight commercial work that may not be as artistically recognized but still showcases Canadians as producers of excellent commercial work—which employs Canadians. This surprise announcement would let the Prime Minister move immediately to the centre---the high number of male Undecided’s, and the historical propensity for men to vote in higher numbers for Harper suggests to me that he can bring them into the fold eventually. At the beginning of the election he wants to crowd Dion—Layton-Duceppe and May into a political phone booth while he holds the door shut.”
He went into the election all business and the American financial crisis through him for a loop making him appear narrower than he wanted to.
I have the sense that the Conservatives will hold government---and likely the same seats maybe 5-10 more---but I would not wager the entire farm on this prediction.
Jack Layton has one third of one per cent of national totals in his column from raids of anti-Ottawa Conservatives in BC. He and his NDP Party have another third of one per cent of national support from Liberals in BC.
Jack Layton has increased totals of two per cent nationally from Quebec raids—plus another one half of a per cent nationally from Ontario. Residual benefits from the Prairies and Atlantic Provinces reveal that Jack Layton and the NDP have grown from increased support across the entire country.
Stephane Dion has lost support in the west. This should keep his numbers lower than Paul Martin’s in 2006. He will lose about one half of one per cent ‘nationally’ from British Columbia. He will lose nearly one per cent ‘nationally’ from the Prairie provinces—and where we differ with HD and other pollsters is that Stephane Dion will lose one and one half to two percent of ‘national’ totals from Ontario-and ‘maybe’ gain back three quarters of a per cent nationally from Quebec.
I believe Ontario will go with Harper---in order to keep control of the country. BC will go NDP because they have come to expect this from Ottawa—and Conservative Party commercials depicting the federal NDP’s in BC as “Ottawa NDP’s”---(to separate them from provincial NDP’s who are lighting up the popularity charts)—was a mistake in our opinion. If you use Ottawa and connect this label to Liberals——it works. The NDP have always been third—“fringe” as one Conservative calls them. By linking the federal NDP’s in BC to Ottawa—the commercial is in fact legitimizing the federal BC NDP’s—making them a viable ‘protest’ vote—Opposition Party in that province. Jack Layton should say “thanks Steve”!
The combined public support increase from this ROBBINS poll for the -NDP and Greens-, measured against the two party’s previous general federal election totals from January 2006 is (42%). The combined public support for the Conservatives and Liberals is a decrease of (6.5%) from the 2006 total for the government and opposition parties.
Currently, Liberals and NDP have (32.8%) more public support in their party totals-- than the Conservative party totals. The combined Liberals, NDP, Bloc, and Green support is (79.4%) higher than the Conservative party totals.
Public support for the two-- mainstream parties—one of which has no national presence, while the other has one ‘recent’ seat in Parliament—the Bloc and the Greens (respectively) is (46.6%) of the current total public support for the governing party of Canada—the Conservatives.
Based on decided voters/respondents Conservatives have (89.81%) of decided support currently-- compared to their achievement in the federal general election in January 2006 The Liberals have (77.7%) of decided totals relative to 2006, while the NDP is already (11.5%) ahead of last election with Undecideds yet to come. The Bloc’s current support is (84.3%) of 2006, and the Greens are (73.3%) above 2006.
Public opinion patterns in this ROBBINS poll suggest that voters are looking to the NDP and Greens—far more frequently than they are the two main parties and the Bloc relative to 2006 totals. If Harris Decima numbers are correct than the increases for NDP and Green have increased even higher suggesting that Canadians will punish both the Conservatives and Liberals—suggesting Canadians believe the two main parties were responsible for ‘dysfunctional government’.
If voters/respondents are having difficulty reconciling their political feelings with the economic uncertainty facing the nation (and the world), they have little doubt about “internet and phone companies” who owe millions of dollars to consumers---there isn’t sufficient trust that these companies will do what is right and the majority of voter/respondents in this ROBBINS poll are saying turn over the money. Most of the Undecided’s come from Quebec.
{Anecdotally---I had a contract with TELUS for Internet---on a deal with Dell---service and repair experience was a country mile worse than awful. No management---choices are either escalation—‘pound salt’—CRTC or lawyer. Got Shaw instead—TELUS still insists on charging—for Internet}. Repair guy on fifth call from me—finally says he “won’t send a service guy out because he doesn’t want to get fired”. Finally—a service guy comes out and needs to call another because of a problem prompted by the location of our house. No science—but the ‘rumour mill’ insists the commercials are much better than the rest. Write me at robbins.canada@email.com if you have Internet or phone service complaints.)
Corporatism is the label given to the relationship between governments and corporations. Often—when bills (laws) are being crafted that relate to business—their input is sought. Many complain that too often these bills are overly influenced by the corporations whose advice is sought in preparing them. Although corporatism isn’t particular to only Conservative governments---it is perceived that way by many in the electorate. The Harper government—which rode the pretty white stallion of accountability into government—has become as grey as Liberals ever were on the subject—and the Prime Minister has lost his BIG edge in this department--. His close ties to former Progressive Conservatives in Ontario including the leader of the current rendition of that party John Tory—and his ties to Ted Rogers---and so on—although not likely known by the average Canadian—serve to reinforce in our minds---particular as mistrust for corporations grow-among the average Canadian--when the overarching theme of the financial meltdown is Greed—which is apparently not good---that the fact that Internet and phone companies would even think Canadians would want them to handle ‘their’ money---like they are government----reveals the true secret to Canadians discontent---they don’t trust the government—and are equally mistrustful of the public service.
This sentiment is palpable at every level of government—city, municipal, provincial and now federal. Where the trust isn’t solid----and the confidence wanes---it takes greater political capital to move the people anywhere—and a good leader needs the confidence—not necessarily the affection—of the people. In British Columbia—the people don’t trust the governing Liberal party—they don’t trust nor have confidence in Dion---and confidence and trust in Stephen Harper has been slowly eroding for over two months.
A majority against high undecided’s are open to the idea of extending the period of the election Writ—and to “suspend” Canada’s current election date by 10 days in order to “convene an emergency sitting of the House of Commons to debate Canada’s economic future”. There is but days to go in an election where the prevailing economic conditions, particularly as these relate to short and mid term economic forecasts—are causing a sharp divide among Canadians who do not see the government’s position as remotely realistic or viable—designed simply for re-election purposes---and other’s who have bought into the position of Stephen Harper’s plan—and are solidly behind him. Harper’s current losses could be attributable to this party epiphany of election reality—at a time where a tie from last elections’ totals appears to be the best Conservatives will muster.
If I was advising any of the parties, I would hammer the airwaves with advertising---pour it on in those markets where you have a chance to win. In those ridings where there are more than two horses in the race, this could go a long way to making a difference.
However, the responses in question #4 are most telling for the most fearless of us—like a deer in the headlight-- many or these respondents understood the question (but were overwhelmed into more partisan answers). The majority of the respondents who did answer “Yes’ to this question------absolutely wanted the advantage of more time. This list included a few Conservatives. The list of respondents who answered “No” to this question has a higher constituent of party supporters who are--- other than Conservative—than the list of “Yes” who are Conservative. Both of these lists represent minority numbers—particularly the Conservative list. The “Yes” Conservatives generally believe an extension of the election Writ would provide the Prime Minister with the opportunity to make his case to the Canadian public that a majority government should be the reward for a minority government that has kept Canada out of the financial bloodshed that the rest of the world’s financial and banking markets are experiencing. Think about this---if Canada really is going to be the best of all countries—isn’t this like 200 seats for the Conservatives? If I were Mr. Harper I would keep rolling out the evidence from International bodies—suggesting Canada has the best banking system in the world---if you prove your case, than you negate the Opposition party’s entire thesis of the past two weeks.
Mr. Harper if you don’t make this case now, and if Canada skates onto thin financial ice sooner—or even later than people will think you “ought to have known” or “did know”------, and they will never support you broadly again.
There were five or one half dozen banking executives in a press conference saying the word deficit---is ‘not so bad’. The Prime Minister won’t go near the word.
Please think about what I am saying and look at the number of days left in this election. When you think about this---and the implications for these problems----imagine the missed opportunity for debate within the Writ period. Personally, I would say ‘yes’ to an extension of the Writ period—so we could debate this matter in the House of Commons for five days---and provide all day coverage on CBC—or the other networks—and bring in the pundits during the day and the evening. Dude, this is democracy and damn good politics---if you’re true bottom line is the rule of democracy and not for posterity—or crass opportunism.
In order for one half of Canadians to accept an extension of our election date—an unconstitutional event??---it suggests that the information provided in the election to date with less than a week to go—is not enough for Canadian voters. Most respondents who spoke to this—in our opinion—were more concerned with the present economic circumstances than deriving some type of perceived strategic benefit by extending the Writ period of the election. It should be noted that most but not all Conservative party supporters rejected this.
Conservatives: BC (35%); Alta (54%); Saskatchewan (48%); Manitoba (44%); Ontario (39%); Quebec (23%); Atlantic Provinces (32%).
Liberals: BC (24%), Alta (20%), Saskatchewan (20%), Manitoba (23%), Ontario (31%), Quebec (20%), Atlantic Provinces (35%)
NDP: BC (33%). Alta (22%), Saskatchewan (25%), Manitoba (26%), Ontario (22%), Quebec (15%), Atlantic Provinces (25%)
Green: BC (09%), Alta (07%), Saskatchewan (06%), Manitoba (07%), Ontario (07%), Quebec (05%), Atlantic Provinces (08%)

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