Ottawa politicians fail to impress voters.

Canadians are not very well satisfied with the job that politicians have done. However, politicians should take heart as we also do not expect newly elected politicians to do much if any better. So future politicians have the advantage of low expectations not as with Obama in the US where he seems doomed to defeat due to the high expectations many had for him. Should Harper or Ignatieff get in next election they can safely muddle on without worrying about increased expectations!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

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Ottawa fails to impress voters: poll
Politicians have accomplished little in past year, Canadians say

David Akin, Canwest News Service

Todd Korol, Reuters
Canadians think politicians do not get along well, that they have accomplished little in the past year, and few would want their children to grow up to be one.

Results of a poll, conducted for Canwest News Service and Global National, show voters are less than impressed with their representatives in Ottawa.

However, "despite the cynicism of our system and what goes with it, two-thirds of Canadians still say they are politically engaged -- slightly greater in number than actually show up to vote -- so maybe we've managed to find a balance of sorts politically where the little bear's porridge is just right," said John Wright, senior vice-president of pollster Ipsos Reid.

Ipsos Reid asked Canadians if they would "encourage any family member to run for public office because it is a noble calling." Most Canadians polled -- two out of three, or 66% -- said no.

The findings of the poll, which measured how Canadians feel about politicians in general, and not any one particular party, reveal that, at the very least, MPs may have a public relations problem.

The Conservatives, for example, have argued that a lot was accomplished in 2009.

For example, after releasing his government's most recent update on its Economic Action Plan while travelling to China, Prime Minister Stephen Harper boasted that 97%, or $28-billion, of federal stimulus funds had been committed to more than 12,000 infrastructure projects across the country.

The government introduced 70 bills in the House of Commons and the Senate on everything from extending employment-insurance benefits to the self-employed, to combatting child pornography. Thirty-one of those bills were signed into law.

Leaders of other parties have also held year-end news conferences to highlight their 2009 accomplishments.

Yet 72% of those surveyed by Ipsos Reid said they disagreed with the statement "Politicians in Ottawa got a lot done this year." And that opinion was consistent across sex and regional lines.

The problem does not seem to be a lack of voter interest. When asked if they agree with the statement, "I've tuned out of participating in any kind of political activity, including voting," better than two out of three, or 67%, said they disagreed with that statement.

Still, the last time there was a general election, in the fall of 2008, just 59% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot. That was an all-time low turnout for a general election.

The poll also asked if Canadians were satisfied with the minority government. Canadians have not had a majority government in Ottawa since the 2004 election, when the majority Paul Martin's Liberals inherited from former prime minister Jean Chretien was whittled away.

Five years later, 55% of Canadians surveyed said they do not believe that the minority government is working well.

That said, Canadians in Western Canada were more pleased with the performance of the minority government in 2009, with a slim majority of survey respondents in British Columbia and Alberta agreeing that it worked well this year. In Saskatchewan, 61% of those surveyed like the minority government. Quebecers and Ontarians, though, are bearish about the minority government, with 64% and 56% respectively saying it was not working well.

And it looks as if Canadians do not think it will get much better in 2010.

Asked, "If we elect a new set of political leaders to the federal Parliament, will things be better?" 62% of respondents said "No." That response rate was similar, coast to coast to coast.

Ipsos Reid surveyed 1,038 Canadians in a weighted online poll on Dec. 9 and 10. The pollster says its results are accurate to within 3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

© 2009 The National Post Company. All rights reserved. Unauthorized distribution, transmission or republication strictly prohibited.

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