Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday notes: Polls, arguments, media

1. One of those fun little polls that gives us the latest snapshot on Canadians' gut feelings about the leadership of recent Prime Ministers. No surprise in these results. Trudeau is best at 40%, a perennial favourite among Canadians. Harper comes in a distant second at 11%, Chretien at 9%, Mulroney at 8%.

What's not surprising and spells trouble for Mr. Harper, his designation as the worst Canadian Prime Minister since 1968. This is not exactly the kind of stuff a sitting PM likes to hear. Shades of the judgments that Mr. Bush faced as he neared his expiration date.
The poll indicates polarization of opinion about Harper. More than one-fifth (22 per cent) say he has been Canada's worst prime minister since 1968, the most of any leader, and slightly more than the 19 per cent who give that dubious distinction to Mulroney.

The percentage of those who say Harper ranks as the worst prime minister in the past four decades has shot up rapidly in the past year. In June 2008, only 15 per cent said he was the worst prime minister.

Anti-Harper sentiment is most pronounced in Atlantic Canada, where 39 per cent say he's the worst resident of 24 Sussex Drive since 1968. In Quebec, it's 29 per cent and, in Ontario, 18 per cent.
That Conservative strategy that we've heard floated from time to time that the longer the Conservatives are in office, the more comfortable we will grow with them and him clearly has not worked.

2. This argument over EI is shaping up to be an interesting study in contrasts. There's the substantive reasonable approach of Michael Ignatieff. And then there's the obfuscating hyperventilated approach of Stephen Harper.

As FarNWide notes today, the call for a national approach to overcome regional disparities in EI access will have its significant supporters. So, typical of Canadian politics in the past few years, the debate is shaping up to be one of reason versus mischaracterization (see environmental debate in last election, December parliamentary crisis). The Conservative approach is to ignore substance, to inflame the public on a given issue, divide Canadian against Canadian, and use their media strategies to appeal directly to the Canadian people. It'll be a big challenge, whenever it takes place, as it's not clear whether there will be a showdown this spring/summer over it.

3. What is CTV doing, using its national airwaves to advocate their local television campaign? Missing from the hours of broadcasting today on the issue, all under the guise of quaint local open houses, any analysis of CTV's ownership decisions that massively over leveraged the company and now seeks the Canadian taxpayer's help to bail it out. A day of public advocacy over the air waves to drum up popular support for fee for carriage. How inappropriate.