Wednesday, March 10, 2010

New Brunswickers dissatisfied with provincial Liberals: Poll

The sale of the provincial power utility to Quebec seems to be a prime cause of the dissatisfaction. However, as the poll also shows the Conservatives are not any more popular. Only the NDP seems to be making substantial gains in the polls and it is certainly not enough to upset the two major parties. No party leader seems to be popular. In conclusion as in many other places there seems to be general dissatisfaction with politicians! This is from the CBC.

Most in N.B. dissatisfied with Liberals: poll
NB Power deal likely reason, says pollster

CBC News
The majority of New Brunswickers are dissatisfied with the performance of the governing Liberal party, but that hasn't translated into more people planning to vote for the Progressive Conservatives, according to a new poll.

Dissatisfaction with Premier Shawn Graham's Liberal party grew to 55 per cent in February - up from 51 per cent - in the latest quarterly poll by Corporate Research Associates.

At the same time, popular support for the Progressive Conservatives dropped to 42 per cent from 46 per cent in November, the poll suggests.

'It may be that people are dissatisfied with the government when it comes to the deal, and I think you have to make assumption based on the numbers.'
—Don Mills, Corporate Research Associates
The results suggest the Progressive Conservatives - and leader David Alward - haven't succeeded in rallying opponents of the NB Power deal to their party, said Don Mills, president and CEO of Corporate Research Associates.

"It may be that people are dissatisfied with the government when it comes to the deal, and I think you have to make assumption based on the numbers," he said.

"But they're not yet ready, necessarily, to leap on the bandwagon for the other party frankly yet because the other party hasn't given them enough reasons why their ideas are better."

Party support February 2010 November 2009
PC 42 % 46 %
Liberal 36 % 36 %
NDP 18 % 14 %
Green Party 4 % 4 %

45 % 42 %
The Graham government plans to sell the majority of NB Power's assets to Hydro-Québec for $3.2 billion.

The Opposition has argued the government doesn't have a mandate to sell the majority of NB Power's assets and the public deserves to have a voice on the issue, but the Liberals have countered that the Opposition hasn't offered any alternatives.

With support for the Liberals unchanged from the last poll at 36 per cent, the gap between the two parties has narrowed.

Support for the New Democratic Party increased to 18 per cent from 14 per cent in the previous poll in November.

Meanwhile, the number of people who are undecided, don't plan to vote, or refused to state a party preference was 45 per cent, up from 42 per cent.

The Halifax-based polling firm sampled 804 New Brunswickers between Feb. 1 and Feb. 25. The margin of error for the entire poll is 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Graham's popularity also slips

Premier Shawn Graham's popularity as the preferred choice for premier has dropped to 25 per cent, from 45 per cent one year ago, according to the latest CRA poll. (CBC)Graham's personal popularity also took a hit, according to the poll. About 25 per cent of those polled listed him as the preferred choice for premier, down from 29 per cent in November and 45 per cent one year ago.

Alward edged the premier out with 27 per cent of those polled choosing him as their preference for premier, but his support was also down slightly from 29 per cent in the previous poll.

Support for NDP's Roger Duguay stands at 11 per cent, compared to 8 per cent in November.

Nine per cent don't like any of the leaders, or prefer others, the poll suggests. About 23 per cent didn't have a definite opinion, it found.

Denise Scott, executive director of the New Brunswick Liberal Association, said the change in the gap between the Liberals and the Tories is a potential weakness for Alward that her party will try to exploit ahead of September's provincial election.

"Of course a focus on him is going to be part of our strategy," she told CBC News on Monday.

"This is an unknown. People have a right to know who he is and what he stands for."

Paul Robichaud, the energy critic for the Tories and the MLA for Lamèque-Shippagan-Miscou, said it's the high dissatisfaction numbers that count and that gives his party room to grow.

"It's up to us to try to reach that clientele, to come to our party and support our party," he said.

Mills said without doing that, it will be difficult for the Progressive Conservatives to continue the momentum that they seemed to have in the last poll. In November, the PCs saw their popular support jump to 46 per cent, up from 35 per cent in August.

NDP leader Roger Duguay said his party is the only one showing that momentum heading into the election campaign.

"The Alward Conservatives refuse to commit to reversing the deal and the public are catching on, they know they're being sold a bill of goods," Duguay said in a news release.

"Only the NDP is standing up to the Liberals."

Contentious power deal

The Graham government announced its contentious plan to sell the majority of NB Power's assets to Hydro-Québec for $4.8 billion in October.

Following a public outcry and open dissent within the Liberal caucus, Graham unveiled a $3.2 billion, slimmed-down deal in January, just a few weeks before the latest CRA poll.

Last month, the government also announced it plans to delay the sale for nearly two months in order to hold a full public debate, but the consultations won't result in any changes to the agreement itself.

Under the deal, Hydro-Québec would acquire most of the province's power-generation assets, but New Brunswick would maintain control of transmission and distribution.

New Brunswick's residential ratepayers will get a five-year rate freeze. Medium-sized industries will see a roughly 15 per cent cut in power rates and will have those rates locked in for five years while large industrial customers will see their power prices fall by roughly 23 per cent.

After five years, rates will increase with inflation and be regulated by the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board.

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