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Canadian Election Poll:

According to Saturday data from CPAC-SES Nightly Tracking Pollthe current Canadian national election race is "neck and neck. The Conservatives draw 34% and the governing Liberals have 32%. The further-left New Democratic Party attracts 17%, while the Bloc Quebecois is at 11%. The Greens are at 6%, and undecided is 17%.

The CPAC-SES polling shows strong regional differences. In "Atlantic Canada", the Liberals are very far ahead. The Bloq Quebecois has an enormous lead in Quebec.

"Western Canada" also has a clear favorite, the Conservatives, who lead by 16%.

The batteground is Ontario, where the Liberals and Conservaties each have 37%, while the NDP pulls 21%.

In national elections, Ontario has often delivered the key votes to put the Liberals over the top. Yet in provincial elections, Ontario has sometimes chosen conservative governments.

The NDP, while generally to the left of the Liberals on fiscal policy, is sometimes supportive of gun-owner rights. The Liberal leadership, although not all Liberal M.P.s, has been extremely hostile to the notion that gun owners even have "rights", and has promoted the view in U.N. fora that U.S.-style gun policies are a violation of international human rights law.

NDP leader Jack Layton told Saskatoon's The StarPhoenix: "We find that there's a broad agreement that (the registry) hasn't been well set-up. It's been totally mismanaged and many people agree that it's got to be fundamentally changed." The StarPhoenix writes that Layton "says the registry punishes people who own guns even if they have legitimate reasons." The paper also reports that Layton favors adding handguns to the controversial national registry. (Legally-owned Canadian handguns have been nationally registered since 1934, in their own registy.)

Layton continued: "The way it's [the long gun registry's] been set up, it leaves gun owners wondering if the federal government thinks that merely because they have a long gun they are criminal and that's not right."

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper argues for abolishing new registry of long guns, while increasing mandatory sentences for some gun crimes, and creating a new five-year mandatory minimum for breaking and entering with the intent to steal a gun.

sammler (mail) (www):
Erm, that's 100% plus 17% undecided.
1.9.2006 5:43am
Tic Tac Addict (mail) (www):
"Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding."

1,200 people were polled, of whom 995 are designated "Decided Voters."

Perhaps the percentages for each party are of decided voters?
1.9.2006 8:02am
AppSocRes (mail):
I remember when the Liberals first took power in Canada. One of their big campaign ads was Diefenbucks -- fake Canadian dollars twitting Prime Minister Diefenbecker under whose ministry the Canadian dollar had fallen from being worth about $1.05 US to parity with the US dollar. After nearly 50 years of Liberal rule the Canadian dollar is now worth about $.75 US. Maybe Canadian voters are finally finally waking up and smelling the coffee.
1.9.2006 8:18am
Ian G. (mail):
One quibble Dave. You said:

In national elections, Ontario has often delivered the key votes to put the Liberals over the top. Yet in provincial elections, Ontario has sometimes chosen conservative governments.

That should read "Yet in provincial elections, Ontario has almost always chosen Conservative governments." Ontario has been under Conservative rule for 75 of the last 100 years.

There has been an interesting circle happening in this election. The Tories made some small gains in Ontario early, which started to convince federalists in Quebec that the Tories could be a viable federalist alternative. Thus, the Tories started to poll better in Quebec (surprisingly, the Tory gains have come at the expense of the Bloc Quebecois). Increased support in Quebec has made more Ontarians give the Conservatives a second look, and the Tories numbers in Ontario are getting better and better.

This latest poll shows the Conservatives are really gaining momentum.
1.9.2006 10:20am
hinglemar (mail):
"Layton favors adding handguns to the controversial national registry."

Mr. Layton needs to get out more -- there's only one registry. It handles unrestricted (long guns), restricted (handguns) and prohibited (guns with very short barrels) firearms. Handgun owners had to re-register because the old RCMP handgun registry was full of errors.

Most gun owners are ok with restrictions on handguns; it's the registering of rifles and shotguns that miffs them.
Under the new registry and rules it's easier to buy a handgun.
1.9.2006 11:33am
Gordon (mail):
Maybe the Liberal leadership is hostile to the notion that gun owners even have rights because in Canada they don't, at least not constitutional rights.

What they appear to have is the right to influence public policy by electing representatives of a party to the Canadian Parliament who represent their views on the subject. And, on this issue, it appears that the voters have a pretty clear choice between the Conservatives and the Liberals.
1.9.2006 12:01pm
Ian (www):
So a clear majority of Canadians support one of several liberal parties, but the single party with the greatest support is the conservatives?

What does this mean in terms of coalition building? Are the liberals and the really liberals likely to have enough combined seats to form a government, or will vote spliting allow the conservatives to dominate? Also, what of the Bloc Quebecois? Are they more likely to align with liberals or conservatives?
1.9.2006 12:13pm
Gordon (mail):
Ian, your post makes, indirectly, the point that a "first-past-the-post" electoral system can result in quite a disparity between votes received and parliamentary seats won.

The only reason the NDP has any seats at all is that much of its support is concentrated in cities. If support were spread evenly throughout the country the NDP would have zero seats in Parliament.

How the distribution of NDP votes affects the Liberal/Conservative battle is unclear to me. On its surface, I would think that every NDP vote would tend to hurt the Liberasl more than the Conservatives, but that's just a hunch.

Since the Bloc Quebecois and the Liberals are the only two significant political forces in Quebec, it's almost as if there is a separate election going on in that province.
1.9.2006 12:18pm
sprice (mail):
Like congressional elections here in the US, looking at individual ridings is the key to determine the makeup of the government. For any party to make headway against the Liberal party the safe seats in Ontario need to be examined. The election should be straightforward in places like Quebec, Alberta, BC and the maritimes with regional politics determining the outcome. The big sea of Liberal ridings in Ontraio is what keeps the party in power so Tory headway there will be necessary to create a change in government.

Few issues in federal politics get people stirred up in any meaningful way since they are mostly regional concerns. Softwood lumber - BC, Wheat Board - Saskatchewan, Cod Fishery - Maritimes, Culture and Heratage - Quebec, Gun Ownership - Western Wackos, etc. etc. Only healthcare reform will get their collective dander up.
1.9.2006 1:18pm
Jamesaust (mail):
Polling only sheds so much light on a parliamentary race like this (much as polling doesn't predict the U.S. electoral college) due to the problem of "excess votes."

Conservatives will be overwhelmingly voted for in Alberta for example, even though the parliamentary candidates need only a plurality of votes (a majority if there's only one opponent on the ballot). Those "excess" votes, which do show up in polls, cannot be applied to "deficits" elsewhere. Likewise, Liberals will do well in Atlantic Canada.

Canada is even more polarized (along multiple poles) than the U.S. red-state vs. blue-state phenomena. The particular problem for Conservatives is that they have no support in Quebec, which makes up by itself a quarter of seats. Quebec is a Bloc Quebecois vs. Liberal race. In theory, a coalition of Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois could form a majority, however, no party is probably more opposed to Quebec demands than the Conservatives. In short, it would be a very ackward coalition. Thus, even getting the largest number of seats (versus votes, real or polled) doesn't necessarily create a stable Conservative government. And as the current unstable Liberal government demonstrates, if you can't have a stable government it might not be worth being in government at all.
1.9.2006 1:35pm
Ian G. (mail):
How does the NDP affect Canadian politics?

This is a complicated subject because it works differently in different parts of the country.

In Ontario: the NDP has traditionally been the party of Labour - hence my hometown of Windsor, which is a union stronghold elects NDP members in both election ridings that make up the city. The NDP is also attractive to the left wing of the Liberal party (which one must remember is the party of the centre here). The NDP support outside of Labour in Ontario is soft and often ends up voting Liberal because they know there is a better chance of hell freezing over than the Dippers (NDPer's) forming a government. The problem with this strategic voting is that the Liberals invariably run the country to the "right" of what this crowd would like to see.

In the West: the NDP is seen as a populist party but this is where things get tricky. The Conservatives are a merger of two parties the Progressive Conservatives which are the Tories of old (based in the East) and the Reform party (based in the West) which was more right wing but also was very heavily invested in populist politics as well. SO in the West, where people like their populist politicians the NDP support can bleed to the Conservatives and vice versa.

Basically, the NDP has three core groups of supports Socailists (champagne and otherwise), Labour and Populists.
1.9.2006 2:36pm
Gordon (mail):
It is interesting to compare the NDP and Canadian Liberals with Britain's Labour and Liberal Democrats. They both started at about the same place around World War I. In Britain, Labour supplanted the Liberals as the 2nd party in a two-party system, while in Canada the Liberals remained supreme.

I'm sure there are some obscure political science dissertations on why this is so out there somewhere ...
1.9.2006 2:44pm
Stephen Johnson (mail):
AppSocRes your comment that the dollar is only worth 70 odd cents shows a lack of economic knowledge a higher value of the dollar is not neccesarily good in fact it is often bad. Although it does make those with money more wealthy it hurts all exporting industries in Canada as our goods become relatively more expensive than those of competing nations.
1.12.2006 8:07pm