With Liberals in rear-view mirror, conservative deep thinkers ponder greener look

Your blogger offers Preston Manning a couple of big ideas for conservatives to think about. Below: Liberal Justin Trudeau, pollster Andre Turcotte.

OTTAWA

While the Forum Research polling company was proclaiming that if an election were held today, Justin Trudeau would be prime minister, conservatives of an assortment of exotic and garden varieties huddled under their “big tent” in the Ottawa convention centre to worry about … the Liberals.

Never mind Mr. Trudeau’s numbers right now, it’s the Liberals’ consistent popularity all the time that apparently troubled some of the conservatives at Preston Manning’s mutual admiration society for would-be young Republicans and aged adherents of various loony right economic cults. (A few actual Tory operatives were at the two-day meeting too, identifiable by their lean and hungry looks.)

After listening Friday to sometime American presidential candidate Ron Paul scare them about what happens when you don’t back your currency with something tangible like gold, or at least Kool cigarettes, the thousand or so conservatives, “libertarians” and Maple Tea Partiers at the “Big Ideas” event organized by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy (sic) broke into smaller sessions to consider some of those deep thoughts.

Of Dr. Paul, who is the far right’s answer to Ralph Nader – only unlike Mr. Nader, possibly actually crazy – much more must be said later.

Likewise, we will need to make some observations about former Australian prime minister John Howard, who this afternoon hailed the democratic value of coalition governments made up of political parties with similar values and platforms, and assailed politicians with no real life experience – you know, like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In the meantime, though, we really need to talk about this Trudeau thing.

According to this morning’s news columns, the Forum Research poll of 1,755 Canadians surveyed by telephone “showed the Liberals with Justin Trudeau as leader would be able to replace the Conservatives in power, albeit with a minority government, if an election were held today.”

The robo-call Forum poll gave the Liberals under Mr. Trudeau (theoretically speaking, since he’s not scheduled to undergo the Liberal Party’s official coronation ceremony until April) 39 per cent of the vote across the country, with Mr. Harper’s governing Conservatives trailing badly at 32 per cent and the NDP at 20 per cent easing back toward its traditional territory.

If Mr. Trudeau’s name is omitted from the survey, Forum said, Conservatives and Liberals for all practical purposes tied at 31 and 30 per cent, well within the margin of error of 2 per cent the pollster claims, and the New Democrats at posted support of 27 per cent. This is similar to another recent poll.

But let’s not fuss today about the likelihood of any of this actually happening. After all, the real political professionals in the very serious machine run by Mr. Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada – the “conservatives” who actually matter in this country – haven’t rolled their advertising slime machine over Mr. Trudeau yet, so we still have to see how he will stand up to that unsavoury onslaught.

And there’s also a possibility at an event like one put on by the Manning Centre that the organizers are just firing up the troops and dupes, who aren’t necessarily Conservatives who are in the know – like the yarn that circulated this morning about how labour unions and “the Left” do more and better data mining than conservative political parties. If only it were true!

But let’s go back to those Manning Centre break-out rooms and consider what the top minds of Canada’s conservative “movement” are worrying about – which, in the case of the session yesterday on polling results and how to use them is almost certainly the same thing as they’re worrying about in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“How conservative are Canadians?” asked pollster Andre Turcotte and “electoral data expert” Mitch Wexler, who crunched polling data from a recent survey of Canadians’ attitudes by the Calgary-based Manning Centre for their conference audience.

Not very, it would seem, at least when it comes to Mr. Harper’s Conservative Party of Canada.

Worse, from the CPC perspective in light of the Forum findings, it would appear the Manning poll shows a hell of a lot of them have been stubbornly Liberal through that party’s recent time in the wilderness.

When it comes to party identification, said Dr. Turcotte, who teaches in the communications department at Ottawa’s Carleton University, “people continue to be quite loyal to the Liberal Party.”

He said Canadians who identify themselves as Liberals outpoll those who think of themselves as Conservatives by 26 per cent to 25 per cent, with self-identifying New Democrats trailing at about 17 per cent – which, surely, is close to traditional levels despite the bad times the Liberals have suffered through since the last federal election.

What’s more, he advised his conservative listeners, not only has that base of people who see themselves as Liberals remained, but last year it showed signs of growing, a pattern he characterized as “creep-up.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Turcotte said, outside the Prairies, there’s no sign support for Mr. Harper’s Conservatives creeping up anywhere in Canada.

More bad news for Conservatives, Dr. Turcotte told his listeners, is that while respondents to the poll give the prime minister’s party passing marks for economic performance, they don’t think it’s doing nearly as well on health care, which is also creeping up the charts again as a front-of-mind issue for voters, or on the environment.

With good reason, one might say from the perspective of this blog. But count on it, Conservatives are going to try to change their public image on the latter issue – with no less an authority than Mr. Manning himself lecturing his acolytes today on the need to appear to voters as “Green Conservatives.”

So watch out, people – this is your Astroturf alert! – for Ethical Oil on steroids … and sold this time with a little more finesse!

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

5 Comments on "With Liberals in rear-view mirror, conservative deep thinkers ponder greener look"

  1. Alberta Dipper says:

    I was at the conference as well, for reasons I won’t get into here, and found it quite odd as an outsider looking in. Is American-style, tea party conservatism really the future of the Canadian conservative movement? If so, they’re likely in for a tough time. They might fire up the base with the rhetoric that was so prevalent at the Manning Conference, but those “average” Canadians who tend to switch back and forth between voting Liberal and Conservative will likely vote Liberal far more often.

  2. irene jacobson says:

    Obviously, who-ever is doing the polling on the Liberals, has NOT DONE ANY POLLS IN BC! I think the MAY, BC PROVINCIAL ELECTION, will tell you exactly how popular the LIEBERALS are in BC! Hand in hand with the Conservatives for years, sheeples jump from one to the other, and basically vote in the SAME PARTY. THE LIEBERALS HAVE MOVED FAR RIGHT, in BC. They are hand in hand with the FEDERAL CONSERVATIVES!!! They have devastated BC, what they haven’t sold off, is in ruin. Their Private-Public Partnerships are sweetheart deals for their rich friends, at the taxpayers expensive, of course! Social Services are all, just one step away from being gifts to their sponsors, the World Conglomerates and privatization! Come to BC and find out what the LIEBERALS ARE UP TO! Closed down schools, hospitals, court houses, bashed Collective Bargaining, kids in poverty, handicapped hit, HST! against the wishes of the people! Grdo & pal, stephen stuffed it down our throuts anyways. Doesn’t it make you wonder, when an X Premier, Bill Vanderzam runs a sucessful campaign against his own party? BC Rail, SOLD, BC Hydro destroyed, BC Ferries in jeopardy—-the list is endless! TAKE NOTE, other provinces, if this is the future you want, keep voting in the LIEBERALS, and the CONS! Take a good look at the NDP and what, and who they stand for! Check out countries like, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, because a lot of what the NDP stand for , have a lot of paralles. Green Party is a wolf in sheep’s clothing——–take a good look at their History. They had a by-election two mths ago in Victoria BC. Victoria as you may know, or not, has a huge problem with dumping raw sewege into the ocean. When the Green Party campaigned, they voted AGAINST, cleaning up the problem—-GREEN? Only when it’s convenient——

  3. anonymous says:

    “….Mr. Manning himself lecturing his acolytes today on the need to appear to voters as “Green Conservatives.””

    I think many Canadians know that the Conservatives are friendly with their oil corporation sponsors and unfriendly with the environment. The Conservatives just passed almost a thousand pages of legislation (bills C-38 and C-45) which destroyed or gutted a half century of legislation which was put in place to protect the environment. They shutdown the Experimental Lakes Area, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. The Conservatives have gone out of their way to destroy environmental legislation and environmental research in the name of corporate profitability.

    Parson Manning’s idea that the Conservatives present themselves as ‘green’ is truly laughable. Sure, they can try, but they will be laughed at. Even with divine inspiration, Manning and the Harperites will never be able to square that circle.

    It is said here, in this comment, that the Liberals, led by Trudeau, will win by a landslide in 2015. The NDP will be the official opposition and the Reformers will be sent back to Alberta to lick their wounds.

  4. No Tea Thanks says:

    It’s interesting how these far right groups really stress how they “appear” to the public. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, which they most certainly are in the case of the Reform Party masquerading as the Conservative Party. Conrad Black in his op-ed defending Tom Flanagan also reiterated the importance of “appearance”. Hopefully Canadians won’t be fooled by these tactics….again.

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